Designing Europe Learning Expedition

ESCP is a multicultural, living, breathing entity. The event that manifests this best is the ‘Designing Europe’ learning expedition held in Brussels at the European Parliament. I was fortunate, along with my peers from across ESCP’s six campuses, to live the life of European decision-makers in the “heart of the beast”. It was in no uncertain terms an opportunity of a lifetime.

My view of the hemicycle inside the Parliament

If you had told me a couple of years back, that I who had grown up in a small town in India would walk the same hallways as great European Statesmen of the past, present, and future, and discuss the sustainable future of Europe, I would only have been able to manage a confused laugh. But there I was with my master student classmates and European Parliamentary experts as coaches guiding us in our endeavour. The Designing Europe two-day learning expedition is an integral part of our curriculum and a cornerstone event embracing ESCP’s unique European Identity which required meticulous planning from the faculty and team of expert consultants. Nearly a thousand-strong contingent of M1 Masters in Management students from across Europe, each with a unique role and voice in a range of committees, came together to simulate the decision-making process and negotiation skills needed to shape the European Green Deal.

Negotiating the European Green Deal

Amongst the range of choices of roles to play in the negotiations, I opted to be in the Business Stakeholder group. As a hopeful future corporate leader, I thought this was a unique opportunity to see the company’s side of the issues. I was asked to play the role of the Director General of CONEBI (Confederation of European Bicycles). As stakeholders we couldn’t directly vote for the resolutions, but had instead to lobby our viewpoints throughout the conference. This gave me an interesting opportunity to discuss my concerns with multiple committees (and aggregate some political ammunition, of course!). The viewpoint of the group was to have realistic targets and support from the EU to accelerate R&D in green technology. Our concerns were addressed well in the parliament and were included in the final resolution.

The whole experience was a surreal one. On the first day alone, from almost missing the flight from Berlin to Brussels (not the example I want you readers to follow, but brownie points for honesty!), to having a seat in the Hemicycle and listening to Michel Barnier, Chief Negotiator for Brexit and ESCP alumnus, illustrate the issues – what a way to kick off an event!

2019 MiM batch, Michel Barnier and ESCP faculty

The second day was equally eventful: an intense discussion session and final drafts in the morning were followed by a high-octane voting session in the afternoon. The final draft of the proposal was the result of the entire committee coming together and steering towards a greener and sustainable Europe. We were “Designing Europe” first-hand, and the proceedings stayed true to its name. Between all the negotiating, snow started slightly falling – especially pleasant for me as it was my very first snowfall!

Enjoying my first snowfall with my trusted umbrella in the streets of Brussels

“As the Director General of CONEBI, I would like to say…”- these words will continue to give me goosebumps for many days to come. I can’t thank the faculty of ESCP enough, to design such an event and allow us to experience this incredible feeling.

Catching up with friends

The conference brought me together with friends who had dispersed across campuses; having spent a semester together in Paris, we were now spread out across Berlin, London, Madrid and Turin. As can be expected, there was some merry to be had in between the mock-parliamentary debates. It was a night of endless catch-ups. The ESCP 2019 MiM batch showed its vibrant colours to Brussels! Did we manage to squeeze in a little lobbying in between all the merry making? Like good business students, we managed to find time for business amongst all the fun. Belgian fries and waffles are world-known delicacies for a reason, and I certainly had my share of them (you can’t make Europe a greener, better place on an empty stomach). There are other things about how the night unfolded that I’ll leave to your imagination.

Catching up with old friends over some famous Belgian Beer

Now that the trip is over, it’s an incredible feeling to know that our ideas will be presented to the European Commission and could even be integrated into the European Green Deal. The ideas shared across different committees had a profound effect on me, as well as, I am certain, the rest of the Masters in Management cohort. The need for integrating sustainable measures into our lives is well past due; today we have no other choice than to make drastic changes.

I departed Brussels that day with new perspectives, and hope for a better future.

by Abhijith Theeyanchery,
ESCP MiM Batch of ’19 / Student Ambassador

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