Corporate governance, academic excellence, rankings, selectivity, employability….let’s talk about it all, shall we?

Nov 04, 2020

Dear All,

I hope that you and your loved ones are all doing well.

Following the article published in Les Echos on October 27 last, it is important for me to share the following information with you. This article is the result of a long lasting investigation which started at the beginning of the year, to cover our executive management transition. The journalist extended her investigation in September and met with various people from the emlyon business school community and myself. Obviously, certain statements and testimonials have been disregarded and not accounted for in this analysis, the article aiming mainly at criticizing actions and decisions of the past, and speculating with regards to the future of our School. I am one of great respect for the individual journalistic freedom, precisely the one allowing me – obliging me – to discuss with you completely objectively and transparently, the great challenges of the School sketched out in this article.


Solid and renowned fundamentals

emlyon business school consistently maintained its position in rankings, and even went up the scale in several ones.

  • 4th French business school: global ranking (Headway Advisory).
  • 4th French business school: 2020 Shanghai ranking in Management and Business Administration.
  • 4th French and 10th international business school: QS Business Masters Rankings (Grande Ecole Program).

Rankings that come as a confirmation of our strength, thereby demonstrating the recognition of the academic excellence of our programs and our Faculty, both in France and on the international scene.

This recognition is based on a brilliant international teaching body, under constant development (175 professors in September 2020) supporting our teaching and research, published in the most prestigious international journals, and for half of it, made of professors coming from all over the world and from the best international universities.

This recognition can also be seen in the trust companies have put into our School, both in recruiting and training their staff. emlyon is number 2 of the French business schools whose talents are the most recognized worldwide, in the international ranking Emerging/Times Higher Education in 2019 (8,000 recruiters were surveyed over 23 countries).

This shows in the strong employment rate of our students. According to the statistics of our Career Center, 92.6% of our learners find a job in less than 3 months after graduating (74% even before graduating) and about 1/3rd of our graduates enter their first job via their end-of-course internship or the apprenticeship year at the end of their track. The results of the last survey conducted on our 2020 graduates will confirm, undeniably, the strong attractiveness of emlyon over recruiters, especially in the ever demanding industry of strategy consulting firms.


A new dynamic up and running

With such solid fundamentals, emlyon business school is currently going through a decisive phase in its history by opting for new legal and fund structures to support our growth and our development. I took the time to assess these recent transformations and I am convinced of the viability of this innovative model. Clearly, we must continue to explain the virtues of such multiple shareholding model, and to reassure all stakeholders and our community with regards to its academic value and its general interest mission.

As indicated by the same journalist in Les Echos of October 13th, 2020, “public subsidies to the Chambers of Commerce that partially finance business schools, substantially decreased while the schools’ expenses increased in order to recruit top-tier professors-researchers and additional staff for a close administration of students”. In the same article, she criticized the consequential decisions made by our 3 famous fellow schools in Paris, increasing drastically their tuition fees to counterbalance these declining resources….all the while underlining how precarious this model was.

At emlyon business school, we precisely decided to pave a new path. Under the leadership of the CCI Lyon Métropole Saint-Étienne Roanne, the investors, Qualium and Bpifrance, joined as shareholders according to specific conditions, allowing emlyon to maintain the necessary financing capacity for the development of a new model of education.

The shareholders’ agreement secured clear principles: maintaining the academic level and quality of the School, as well as supporting its approach as a Benefit Corporation, no dividend payment for the first four years, and the fund’s commitment to remain our shareholder for at least 5 years. There is no profitability target in return, and these new partners entering our governing body shall not change our strategy, but shall instead allow it to be more efficient and to accelerate its implementation.

Opening shareholding to employee participation, and soon to alumni participation, also goes to show our determination to maintain balances with investors and to closely associate all the stakeholders in decision making and creating value. 

Quite the contrary, this new hybrid shareholding model provides both the means to support our ambitions and the guarantee that all our internal actors will be responsive.


A new executive management serving emlyon’s academic excellence and general interest mission

With Annabel-Mauve Bonnefous as Dean of Programs, Sylvie Jean, as Director of the Grande Ecole Program, and soon to come into office, Nicolas Péjout, as Director of the Strategy and Development, we are committed to reinforcing the outreach of one of the School’s core value: academic excellence.

One of our main priorities is notably to promote the quality of our Grande Ecole Program, recently questioned by the CEFDG, along with the “early makers” brand of emlyon business school. This decision should not make us doubt our fundamentals nor our strategic positioning, but quite the opposite, it should prompt us to be even more innovative and outperform ourselves for the benefit of our learners.

The Grande Ecole Program was firstly redesigned to guarantee the students’ satisfaction with their courses. Sylvie Jean is currently continuing the transformation of the program, and when visiting the preparatory classes, introduces it for the benefit of future candidates. Over 40 visits in preparatory classes are already scheduled in France. We intend to prefer recruiting students from preparatory classes in the future and stabilize recruitments via degree-based admission (Admis Sur Titre, AST) with a preference for international AST students, or those majoring in other disciplines than economics or management. The School shall soon announce so.

Our pedagogy and our “early makers” signature strongly mark our difference – we make to learn and learn to make – and we shall push these assets forward, explain them and let this singularity evolve with the students and future candidates, according to our different strategic axes which will be presented in detail in January 2021. Various work groups made of different actors of our ecosystem are currently redefining our key messages.


Towards a status of Benefit Corporation

As a continuum, the next strategic plan shall reinforce our three fundamental axes – globalization, hybridization, digitalization – with the expansion of its range with a fourth axis, one of environmental and social responsibility, with a clear objective, turn emlyon into a “B Corp” indicating in its legal status its raison d’être and objectives in terms of social and environmental purposes (compliance with such commitments will be followed up internally and by an Independent Third Party Organization as well).

To elaborate such plan, I have invited all staff members to express their point of view on these major issues, for a collaborative elaboration of the strategy thereby reflecting the staff’s commitment over the years.

I would like to renew my deepest gratitude to all of you for all the work done, the motivation you continue to demonstrate in the face of the new challenges ahead of us, and most of all, for your everyday dedication in defending and promoting the prestige of emlyon business school.


Isabelle HUAULT


Prof. Isabelle HUAULT
Présidente du Directoire & Directrice Générale
Executive President & Dean

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