Bringing project management to life for the world’s future business leaders 

15 Jan 2024

With project management at the heart of many business degree programmes, we talk to ESSCA School of Management about why Splash Projects offer ‘unique’ experiential learning 

Business students who take part in a Splash Project understand project management better than those who haven’t. 

This isn’t just us saying this. After introducing Splash Projects to the start of their five-year business degree courses three years ago, senior leaders at ESSCA collated data which revealed that students who completed a Splash Project achieved better academic performance and understanding of the project management element of the course, than those who hadn’t. 

Feedback from students included ‘feeling more confident’ and ‘efficient’ at this core part of their degree, which includes team management, management outside a team environment, project planning and execution and performance evaluation. 

Marie Courtois, Director of Student Experience, explained:

“We chose to embed a Splash Project at the start of the course curriculum because they are original, innovative, meaningful, impactful and empowering.  

“And, because they allow us to give back to our community. This is very dear to our hearts at ESSCA because it is a not-for-profit school, so being part of our community is in our DNA.” 

We’ve worked with 1,200+ students each year for the last three years based at six campuses across France. Their three-day projects involve a different cohort of students, all aged 17 and 18, daily, and take place at charity sites in Paris, Angers, Bordeaux, Aix en Provence, Strasbourg and Lyon. 

Project management features throughout their course from the very first semester and Splash Projects deliberately form part of the students’ lives with the school from day one. 

“On the Monday, the students first day with us, they have a welcome speech from the Dean,” continued Marie. “And then in the afternoon, they have a project planning session with Splash Projects.  

“The next day, they’re on the ground. The Splash Facilitators are there to guide them and make sure they’re on the right track – but not to babysit them! They have to work things out for themselves. 

“This is experiential learning at its best. They can make mistakes in a safe environment.” 

Marie lauds the impact of Splash Projects further, because they allow students to experience the values of ESSCA: competence, humanism, solidarity, responsibility, ambition, honesty, autonomy and imagination. 

So far ESSCA students have built a wide range of infrastructure for those in need, including shaded seating areas and planters for elderly residents with Alzheimer’s disease; an outdoor bicycle storage and maintenance base for young people with intellectual disabilities to live autonomously; various outside facilities to support people with intellectual disabilities access the work environment; created infrastructure for people with motor disabilities such as Cerebral Palsy; and created garden features for young people with intellectual disabilities. 

Needless to say, every single student has contributed to enhancing the lives of countless disadvantaged people, leaving a profound legacy in their university communities. 

“What Splash Projects bring is unique,” Marie continued. “With most leadership development programmes, the focus is on yourself. But these projects require you go outside of yourself. They’re not only about ‘me, myself and I’, but the part you play in your team and the direct, and positive impact you have on others including the elderly, children, teenagers and young adults with special needs. 

“They also challenge how you react in a situation that’s new and out of your comfort zone, something our students will find in their courses, in their future workplaces and in life in general. 

“The fact students have to communicate with the Splash Facilitators in English adds another layer to the challenge and their development.”

Marie added: “During their project, a seed is planted: to work together for the good of your community. This, they’ll remember throughout their working lives.”

Here you can read about the huge difference new ESSCA students made in their communities.

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