The war of talent has begun. In particular, those managers capable of integrating the power of data into their development model. Not only are they missing French Tech Unicorns, but also to large groups shaken by the advent of digital technology. It is therefore urgent to train these leaders of tomorrow to hope to win the war.
This is Grégoire Genest’s conviction. This polytechnic associated with Matthieu Heurtel (X-Ponts) and Mathieu Schimpl (ENS-HEC) opens the first business school specializing in data in Paris in September. It will offer five-year training courses combining business case studies and theoretical lessons. A hybrid model between a management school and an engineering school that does not exist in France. “The Grandes Ecoles offer excellent courses, agrees Grégoire Genest. But they have not evolved enough with most science courses for some and not enough data courses for others.”
A school of 800 students
In 2017, the 30-year-old created an in-store payment solution, Neos, with his fellow Polytechnique student Frédéric Arnault, which he later sold to BNP Paribas. He also worked for the American investment fund Advent International for two years. “Sure, there are joint programs between Centrale and ESCP or Polytechnique and HEC. But they lack scale to market needs,” he judges.
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Albert aims for 800 students who will pay 12,000 euros in tuition fees a year with the possibility of advances for the more modest. They will be installed at 18 rue de Paradis in the premises of a former factory (Le manoir de Paris) which has been refurbished. Among the supporters of this 8 million euro project, the business angel Pierre-Edouard Sérin talks about “a world-class institution that will change the game on a global scale.” In fact, renowned professors from HEC, Stanford, Polytechnique or Normale Sup will come and teach there. Mathieu Rosenbaum and Johan Hombert are notably announced.
Higher education conservatism
“Our start-ups need professionals who speak the language of data”, explains for his part Xavier Niel (Iliad-Free), co-investor with Bernard Arnault (LVMH (shareholder of Challenges)), Delphine Arnault (Louis Vuitton) and Anne Lange, director of Inditex, Orange and Pernod-Ricard. Several unicorns also responded to support this adventure such as Voodoo and PayFit. “I was shocked to see how most sectors started their digital transition with big disruptions, like mass distribution, says Grégoire Genest. But not higher education.”
This ignition delay precisely illustrates a certain conservatism in this sector unlike any other where reputation and branding are decisive. Not surprisingly, the most prestigious of the Grandes Ecoles, such as Polytechnic and theESCP, are more than 200 years old. Albert will have to prove himself. However, Xavier Niel proved with school 42, opened in 2013 also to non-graduates, that it is possible to shake up habits. Especially when the digital talent shortage is getting worse.