Meet the Member: Michelle Mielly, Academic Director & International Development, Grenoble Ecole de Management

Member news | October 28, 2019

In our latest Meet the Member feature, we spoke with Michelle Mielly, Academic Director & International Development at Grenoble Ecole de Management.

Grenoble Ecole de Management offers over 40 national and international programs from the undergraduate to the doctoral level for students and executives. Its mission is to accompany corporate performance by providing the knowledge, skills and talent to meet the economic challenges of today and tomorrow. It is one of the few business schools to possess the three accreditations that distinguish the leading international business schools: EQUIS, AACSB and AMBA.

Keep reading to learn more about Grenoble Ecole de Management’s DBA and its expansion to the East Coast.

FACC: GRENOBLE ECOLE DE MANAGEMENT has a unique focus on the Management of Technology & Innovation. The school has recently been awarded at the Green Gown Awards. Can you tell us more about this achievement?

MM: The Green gown awards were created to recognize the exceptional work on sustainability initiatives undertaken by colleges and universities around the world. They look at questions of eco-responsibility, societal impact, and student empowerment on a given campus. Grenoble Ecole de Management (GEM) was one of the recipients at the awards ceremony in New  York, at the UN headquarters this past summer because of the tireless efforts of my colleagues and many highly committed students, student associations, and their sponsors, led by our school’s Sustainability Initiatives Director, Jaclyn Rosebrook-Collignon, who is like myself an American who has been living and working in France for many years.

FACC: You have been working at Grenoble Ecole de Management for 10 years. What do you like the most about your workplace?

MM: That’s easy: the people.  I walk into the building every day feeling happy to be there, and leave it pretty much the same way, because my colleagues are great people, and we have the privilege of working with very bright and curious young people from all over the world. We are in the business of intellectual pursuit combined with a broader responsibility to society.  We all have understood that business schools have to be more visionary in righting the wrongs of the world, and I am inspired by the dedication of people at the different levels of the organization who endow their work with such meaning. Finally, I’m awed by the sorts of rarefied discussions we can have with colleagues on the research side, the way we have a space where critique, dissension, and questioning the status quo are welcome—as the French tradition would and should have it.  So even when it’s exhausting or overwhelming, as work can be, the people make it worthwhile. 

FACC: You have been managing the DBA (Doctor's of Business Administration) program in France, Switzerland and the United States. GEM recently started a new East Coast DBA program in New York City, partnering with Pace University. Can you tell us about this new program and partnership?

MM: Yes, we are really excited about this one.  In a nutshell, GEM has offered the DBA since 1993 and it has grown and flourished to the point that we now have over 400 graduates worldwide. We have offered it in China, the US, the Middle East, and Europe.  Students come to us from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and more, and bring in organizational experience and managerial problems linked to their unique contexts, so it is very interesting.  The US program, which has historically been in Los Angeles, and continues there, has graduated several highly successful alumni who have encouraged us to open an East Coast program, since several east coasters were coming to Los Angeles for our program there.

The Pace University agreement enables us to have access to a beautiful campus in downtown, in the heart of the Financial District, and to offer our students the opportunity to study in a world-class city and institution.  We have already worked with Pace University for our undergraduate course offerings, and greatly appreciate our partners there.  Establishing a presence on the East coast has always been a project for us, and thanks to the buildup of a significant alumni and current student base across North America, we felt that 2020 was the time to make it finally happen.  We are sure that in the tri-State area, across new England and the Atlantic coast states, we have a gap to fill in terms of high-quality and affordable part-time study. 

As an American, I’m always interested in the US market dynamics in higher education.  We are in a crisis period for affordable education in the US, enrollment is down, schools are closing, and they need to find new ways of generating profit. The DBA market has been growing and we are seeing a number of good US schools start part-time DBA programs.  There are to main problems with the high growth of “supply” on this market, if you will.  First, the quality of a new program is something people should scrutinize, and if there are no graduates, and no benefit of experience, you can have surprises. Doctoral education is not like Bachelor’s or Master’s programs, and require true specialization. Historically, doctoral programs were not supposed to be profit centers, yet I do see many schools seeking to turn a profit instead of producing excellent DBA alumni. 

That leads me to the second point, the cost.  The price tag on these new entrants’ programs can be astronomical: they charge for one year almost the same tuition we charge for 4 years.  Something is amiss when schools are charging upwards of $50,000 for part-time study.

Americans are going to be moving into doctoral study more and more, because there are many MBA and MSc graduates looking for a new challenge. So, we need to keep our program on their market, because we have had great experience with helping US-based students move their careers forward through our program.

FACC: One of your DBA graduates, Slobodan Velinov, shared an inspiring testimonial about his experience teaching MBA classes at Grenoble Ecole of Management (the testimonial can be found here). What are your expectations in building this program in NYC?

MM: I really like the way Slobodan speaks of the DBA as offering an ‘exit strategy’ to professionals who want a career change.  His experience from the ‘boardroom’ to the MBA classroom was very positive, because like all of our students, highly driven people put the work forth to be successful.  He’s a superb exemplar of academic relevancy, because he wrote an excellent thesis based on his professional interests, and then went on to teach the MBAs in his subject matter expertise—International Human Resource Management.  We have many other examples of our students who either go on to teach for us in the Bachelors’ or Master’s programs, or elsewhere in other schools as tenure-track faculty.

They always remain part of our community and we will continue to support them as they progress in their careers, whether as executives or academics. 

As we build the program in New York, we’ll develop new areas of expertise to guide new US students in their research projects—whether in Finance, Marketing, Organizational Behavior, Innovation management, or Business Ethics, to name just a few.  Our expectations will be to help those who want to pivot to academic an excellent start through our innovative approach to supervising and mentoring students, and to connect them to the network of alumni and DBA ambassadors whose work is to help members of our community network and further their goals.

FACC: How did you hear about the French-American Chamber of Commerce and what are you most looking forward to as a member?

MM: I heard about it thanks to the activities it carries out in the Rhone Alpes region where I live, and the activities it has organized in Lyon and Grenoble in the past.  Now my colleagues at GEM have shared with me the activities you do in the two US cities that are important for our organization—Los Angeles and New York—and I am pleased to see how dynamic you are.

In terms of expectations, I hope that I will be gaining new opportunities to reach out to potential students, mainly executives seeking to pivot their career trajectory or to go for the final and ultimate diploma, the doctorate.

Interested in connecting with Michelle? Log into the FACC Member Directory to send her a message.