As the deadline to apply for a Master approaches, let me present you an introduction to the Master program I have been following for the past few months. This article is to be taken as the next iteration of a series that began last year with the presentation of the Masters in Political Economy, Finance and Management.
Before talking about the Master itself, let me slide a few words to introduce you to the organization overseeing the Master in Sustainable Management and Technology (SMT): E4S. The E4S Center is a joint venture launched in 2019 between EPFL, Unil (HEC Lausanne) and IMD. Those three institutions joined forces in order to create a common competence center dedicated to foster research, education and innovation towards the development of a more resilient and inclusive society respectful of planet boundaries.
Therefore, yes, courses are given on the three campuses. You get the opportunity to spend time in various classrooms, from the lakeshores at IMD to the far end of a complex of buildings at EPFL, the different landscapes you will experience every day highlight well one of the strengths as well as a distinct feature of this program: Diversity. Diversity in the places you visit, diversity in the students you work with and diversity in the courses you follow. With 18 nationalities and various backgrounds in the pool of students, you will learn to work in diversified teams composed of engineers, economists and managers (as the Master is open to holders of a bachelor’s degree in either engineering or economics/management) coming from all four corners of the world, an extremely valuable skill in most companies nowadays.
Diversity, I was saying. As you wander around the different areas of Lausanne, you will also get the opportunity to study a wide range of topics: from Robotics and Climate Change to Management and Finance, not to mention Machine Learning and Team Coaching sessions, the program offers more than one theme to dive into. At EPFL you will study courses labelled as “Technology”, some of which are shared with other Master programs, which put emphasis on engineering- related topics such as energy, climate and data science. At HEC you will follow courses about Economics and Management in fields such as finance, marketing, accounting, law and strategy, whereas at IMD, classes revolve around corporate and organizational strategy as well as leadership and coaching. A useful note to add here is that every semester starts with a week of intense management courses at IMD that take place before the official start of the semester. Sustainability, on its end, is addressed throughout the program as a transversal topic appearing in most courses, from very down to earth ones such as Science of Climate Change to more subtle ones like Logistics, the way to embrace sustainability to create a more resilient society is a reflection engaged almost daily during the curriculum. Overall, you can expect your work and projects to bounce between a myriad of varied subjects.
Speaking of projects, most of the evaluation is made through them, as well as through various assignments; there are only a handful of exams at the end of each semester. You should therefore expect many group projects and work outside of the actual courses. The program takes place throughout four semesters, one of them comprising the Master Project (an internship in industry linked to a research project). There is (as of today, the Master is only two years old, so the organization may be subject to changes) no choice in the subjects you are studying, so everyone has the same schedule and courses. This specificity, although it may probably change for the next cohort, creates an atmosphere reminiscent of high school class, especially since there are only about 30 students. As a result, everyone can expect strong support from other students, and many activities are organized between them as well as with and by the E4S Center. The latter also plays an important role in the day-to-day life of the Master, as professors and other members of the organization are actively listening to feedbacks given by the students and are always ready to answer questions and requests. Unlike during your bachelor or in some other master’s program, you are not treated like a student among many others, but really considered by the administration of the Master.
So, what do you need to apply to the SMT Master? You can always visit the E4S or EPFL website to gain deeper insights about the exact criteria, but in general, you need to have a good academic record in quantitative subjects and programming. In addition to that you should have an interest in sustainability and technology in general, as well being motivated, as the workload tends to be substantial, and the program is designed to encourage students to actively engage in the various courses and activities that are offered. I should also add that there are more applicants than students chosen in the end.
As for career prospects, they are as various and diversified as the courses taught. Despite being partially delivered by EPFL, the diploma alone does not allow to hold the title of engineer, however, you can pretend to almost any kind of managerial position or embrace consulting or entrepreneurship, if that is the path you would like to follow. The Master in Sustainable Management and Technology has the advantage of being supported by recognized actors in various industries, such as Richemont, Lombard Odier or Romande Energie just to name a few, which acts as a proof of the confidence placed in the quality of the program by employers. On a more personal level, I am deeply convinced that knowledge in the fields of sustainability, digitalization and ethics as well as being able to work in multidisciplinary teams are skills that will matter more and more for future engineers, analysts and managers.
If you want to enact change around you and help build a society and economy better shaped to overcome today’s and tomorrow’s challenges, by learning skills no other business or engineering school will teach you, don’t hesitate to apply to the SMT Master!