UVA Darden Global MBA for Executives Program Connects to French Companies and Culture

01 October 2015

By Julie Daum

University of Virginia Darden School of Business students in the Global MBA for Executives (GEMBA) Class of 2016 kicked off a two-week residency in Western Europe in Paris, where they connected with the Darden network at the Paris Leadership Forum and with leading companies and their top executives in France.

For the first time in the weeklong Paris residency, the GEMBA cohort journeyed to Reims, France, to learn about brand establishment and marketing from Jean-Marc Gallot, CEO of Veuve Clicquot, a brand icon in the Champagne business.

A Unique Approach to Learning

The GEMBA format of the Darden MBA takes an innovative approach to learning: The executive students, working in teams, study real-life cases about companies. Through online and classroom learning during six, two-week residencies in six regions across the world, they discuss solutions to the business challenges presented. During the residencies, the students explore various business themes that are brought to life through cases often involving companies that the students are able to interact with via visits or meetings with the executives.

In France, the GEMBA students met with top executives at Euro Disney and at Vigeo, which assesses companies’ practices and performance on environmental, social and governance issues. During the second week of the residency in Berlin, they met with executives at Ogilvy DeutschlandAston Martin and Axel Springer Plug and Play Accelerator, where they viewed entrepreneurial pitches and worked with entrepreneurial teams.

The Business of Champagne

During their visit to Veuve Clicquot’s 19th century manor house, Hotel du Marc, the students learned about the company’s global marketing efforts to scale the brand, along with important lessons about entrepreneurship and women in business.

Philippe Clicquot founded the Champagne house in 1772. When he died, it passed to his 27-year-old widow (veuve in French). Madame Clicquot became the first woman to take up the management of a French house in the appellation of Champagne, and for the next 60 years she courageously pushed the boundaries of tradition and innovation. Under her leadership, Veuve Clicquot invented the game-changing technique called riddling to facilitate removal of sediment and created the first vintage and rosé Champagne, respectively.

Her vision for the Champagne house was expansive, and she successfully grew the company into a truly global enterprise.

Now owned by the conglomerate Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy, and recognized by its distinctive yellow label, Veuve Clicquot has continued to expand its international reach, building on the dream of Madame Clicquot and her husband, Philippe. The U.S. is its top market for sales.

Benjamin West, Veuve Clicquot’s international press and public relations manager, explained to the group the brand’s essence and its approach to building its reputation and reach in global markets.

“We enjoyed hosting the Darden GEMBA students to share the rich heritage of Madame Clicquot,” said West.  “We continue her dedication to wine elaboration, innovative design and audacity which are core to our Brand DNA; making our Maison a leader in the Champagne industry. Having the leading executives of tomorrow at our family home in Reims joins this quest by educating Veuve Clicquot ambassadors of the future.”

The Enterprise View

Throughout the residency, GEMBA students learn valuable lessons and examine how finance, leadership, marketing and ethics intersect in the European business environment. The residency’s faculty — including GEMBA Associate Dean Yiorgos Allayannis of the finance area; Professor Lynn Isabella of the leadership and organizational behavior area and residency term leader; Ruffin Professor of Business Administration Andy Wicks of the ethics area; and Professor Marian Moore of the marketing area — co-created the curriculum to foster an enterprise view of business.

Stemming from Darden’s tradition of providing a holistic perspective to business problems, the faculty create an integrated curriculum, which includes co-teaching several case studies to bring home the various perspectives of business problems.

In addition to the Western European residency in Paris and Berlin, GEMBA participants over 21 months also complete two-week residencies in China (Shanghai and Beijing), India (Mumbai and Delhi), Brazil (Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro) and the U.S. (Charlottesville and San Francisco Bay Area), with distance learning using innovative technologies in between.

Starting in 2016, the U.S. residency will include a new one-week module in the San Francisco Bay Area. For their final spring residency, students will head to the heart of technological innovation in the U.S. for meetings with LinkedInFacebook and Uber, among others.

“This model of studying cases about companies, then engaging with the leaders of those companies or others in the same sector on the ground in six distinctive regions around the world, is a hallmark of the Darden GEMBA format,” said Allayannis. “We go and we see, and this approach leads to an unparalleled depth of learning and preparation for global leadership and impact.”

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


Press Contact

Sophie Zunz
Director of Media Relations
Darden School of Business
University of Virginia