Stephanie Villemagne – 20th Anniversary interview

As Splash Projects celebrates its 20th birthday, we are marking our anniversary online by featuring a handful of interviews with some visionary clients and charities from over the years.

This month we hear from Stephanie Villemagne.

Stephanie is currently Associate Dean (Masters in Management and Masters in Finance) at IE Business School in Madrid.  She first worked with Splash Projects when she was Global Director for the MBA Programme at INSEAD and then at the Chinese University of Hong Kong where she was Associate Dean for Graduate Programmes.

Stephanie, what has been your most memorable Splash project?

There are two, one in Singapore and one in France, and they were the first projects we did together with INSEAD.  The first in Singapore was memorable because it was a big shift for the MBA programme.  We had to convince a lot of people (including the Dean) this was in fact the best start of the programme for the MBAs.  There were approximately 210 students involved and we built a playground for children in need at Gracehaven.  It was such a success that we were able to replicate the project within less than 6 months in France – this time with 300 MBA students – building a mountain bike course at EPMS de Chancepoix, Chateau Langdon.

Did the learnings from these projects translate back to the classroom?

The impact a Splash Project has at the beginning of the MBA programme, in and out of the classroom, is really quite extraordinary.  In the classroom, it brings a very early reflection on behaviours in teams and individually and it also brings a different perspective on studying business.  The impact out of the classroom of doing good cannot be minimised. There is a feel-good factor that allows students to get in the right spirit early in the programme.

What was the most unexpected thing that happened during one of your Splash Projects?

It´s probably the feel-good factor of giving back.  I expected a lot of the [Splash] programmes but did not understand the extent of this one factor has on people in general and privileged students in particular.

As well as introducing a Splash Project to the CUHK MBA programme, you also asked Splash to organise a Study Trip to Zambia. What were the highlights of this trip?  

The digging of a well with the students in the middle of nowhere to allow the local population access to clean water.

What did the students learn (that would have been difficult to teach on campus) and why was this important?

Access to clean water and proper sanitation together is key with education and proper institution to any country’s development. This is now being specially highlighted during the Coronavirus Pandemic where hygiene and educating people on the importance of washing their hands is key. This is part of what we did in Zambia.

Did the field trip meet your expectations?  

It far exceeded my, and the students’ expectations. Indeed one student wrote afterwards: “The best thing I’ve learnt from the whole trip, beside team building, leadership or entrepreneurship, was in fact life isn’t about money, or making more money. More importantly, life isn’t about myself, or a small bunch of people that I care about. Life is actually a journey to contribute to the society, and more importantly, to help those who are in need.”

What was the most unexpected thing that happened?

A storm in the midst of a safari that allowed students to learn not just about the African way of life but also develop a certain number of survival skills – how to sleep when everything is wet and animals are close by…

 

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INSEAD MBA students with Splash Projects and Salvation Army playground

INSEAD's MBA - August 2014 project with Salvation Army: Gracehaven, Singapore

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