For SME Managers, Training With HEC Paris Is An Extremely Rewarding Experience
The Bpifrance public investment bank provides companies with financing and development support. It has been co-developing training programs for senior managers in SMEs and middle-market companies with HEC Paris Executive Education for over ten years.
Interview with Hélène Clément, Director of Programs at Bpifrance.
The health crisis has made the transformation of companies a business imperative. How do you provide the necessary support in your training programs?
The current situation has brought about a growing awareness. The aim of our programs is to help the leaders of small and medium-sized companies improve their skills and review their strategies and development plans. Being able to drive change is essential for companies, otherwise they might not survive. Managers are wondering how to sustain and develop their activities in this new environment. The most urgent issues for companies in this context are digitalization and energy transition. We address these issues in all our training programs and at all levels
Have you adapted your training programs to social distancing measures?
We have carried out a major overhaul to ensure the continuity of our training programs. We have adopted a blended learning approach to achieve an effective mix of face-to-face and distance learning. We organize on-site or remote classes. Sometimes, some of the participants take part in person and others join the class remotely, depending on the health measures in force and where they are located. We have set up a mix of webinars, workshops, and discussion sessions. And we use tools that facilitate remote interactions and exchanges.
How do the programs you have developed with HEC Paris work?
On the one hand, we offer "accelerator" programs for groups of companies composed of 5 seminars. All the aspects of management science are covered so that managers acquire an up-to-date and shared knowledge base in finance, marketing, HR, or even production and sales. On the other hand, we organize short "Spot" seminars, which always focus on two key themes - digitalization and energy transition.
So how exactly are climate issues addressed in your programs?
Many managers feel overwhelmed by these issues, and they don't know where to start. We give them very concrete answers to help them move forward. We are committed to including a “green” theme in all our programs. While it is easy to understand what this refers to in terms of production, it is sometimes less obvious in other areas. We show managers that in HR, for example, the CSR component is very important - they need to know how to showcase their best practices to attract the younger generations who are very environmentally aware. The same applies to the field of finance. Valuing everything that is extra-financial can help to attract investors.
How do you measure the impact of your training programs on the performance of SMEs?
A team of university researchers affiliated with the CNRS has conducted a study on the impact of one of our programs on growth and employment, on 142 participating SMEs. The study shows that companies that took two of our classes saw their sales increase by an additional 10% compared to a group of comparable non-accelerated companies.
Why did you choose to develop programs in partnership with HEC Paris Executive Education?
This enables us to have high-level facilitators who know how to adapt to our SME managers. Some of the managers we work with have an MBA or management school degree, but many have more technical profiles or are self-taught. For everyone, following a program with HEC Paris is an extremely rewarding experience.