International study: how to become an ethical leader

The environmental and societal challenges of the 21st century demand big choices – from individuals, governments and businesses. Global uncertainty may be growing during 2020 – but many young people are clear about the future they want to create.

International study: how to become an ethical leader
Photos: Nathalia Rocha/Laurent Högl-Roy

That includes students on ESCP Business School’s Bachelor in Management (BSc) programme. ESCP focuses on educating and inspiring tomorrow’s leaders with the principles of ethics, responsibility and sustainability. 

We spoke with two student ambassadors on the Bachelor in Management (BSc) about what we should expect from their generation: Nathalia Rocha, 21, originally from Brazil, and Laurent Högl-Roy, 23, who is half-French and half-German and grew up in Switzerland. 

Leading in a changing world: are you ready to get a head start with ESCP’s Bachelor in Management (BSc)? Get more information now.

Ethics and responsibility

“Everything I do needs to be in accordance with my moral values,” says Nathalia, who will soon start an internship at a social impact company in Helsinki whose partners include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Being responsible means you’re accountable – and if I’m going to be held to account for something, it needs to reflect my values.”

Sounds simple. As the international representative for an NGO supporting children in Brazil and having previously worked on social projects in South Africa, Nathalia is very much living by her values.

But in the complex and pressurised business world, consistent value-based decision-making can become less straightforward. ESCP actively challenges its students to deal with business dilemmas and the final year of the Bachelor in Management (BSc) programme includes a ‘CSR & Business Ethics’ course to prepare them for what lies ahead using real case studies.

“In the past, big corporations have not always been honest and have had some negative impacts for years to come,” says Laurent.

Photo: Laurent Högl-Roy (furthest right) with fellow students at ESCP’s London campus

His year group was only the third to start the Bachelor programme and he values its innovative approach. “This Bachelor has a very contemporary point of view, covering these crucial issues to give us the best head start for the future,” he says. “We have classic business classes but we’re also educated, like our slogan says, for ‘Leading in a changing world’.”

Next generation values: find out about the benefits of taking ESCP’s Bachelor in Management – which begins for first year students in 2020/21 on September 14th.

Sustainability becomes second nature

You may think the meaning of sustainability is obvious by now. Think again. For the next generation, the concept goes far beyond just trying to be ‘green’ or thinking about the environment. 

Sustainability also encompasses human, social and economic dimensions. The circular economy and ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) investing are just two of the more visible aspects.

ESCP’s Bachelor promotes sustainable development as fundamental to transforming business – a transformation Laurent says will benefit all parties. “We’ve learned that resources are not endless,” he says. “But it feels like there’s too much questionable ‘greenwashing’. Efficiency will be key to making corporations more sustainable.”

To help its BSc students develop informed views, ESCP invites guest speakers, who have included Kurt Morriesen, Head of Europe, Sustainable Finance & Impact Investing at the United Nations Development Programme.

ESCP’s Madrid campus also launched a Green Scholarship for the BSc; prospective students were invited to apply by setting out in PowerPoint how their school could introduce or improve sustainability initiatives.

“Sustainability is about creating something that will last,” says Nathalia. “Why would I want to be part of something that doesn’t leave a legacy?”

Cross-cultural understanding

Whether the meetings of the future take place face-to-face or via video, the ability to relate to different cultures is becoming crucial. Nor is this only about seeking new clients. Diversity is also a huge topic for organisations looking to enhance their own team dynamics.

Students on ESCP’s BSc programme represent more than 50 nationalities. They have the opportunity to study at three different European campuses and to learn languages in addition to their main courses.

“Through languages you learn how to live with different cultures,” says Laurent, who grew up bilingual in French and German and has studied Spanish and Mandarin at ESCP.

“We work on group projects with people from completely different cultures and this teaches us to understand them better. This flexibility is especially precious. Every situation will look somehow familiar and won’t be intimidating.”

Cross-cultural education: find out how you could start an exciting personal journey on ESCP’s Bachelor in Management (BSc) this September

Learning to think local

Familiarity with different cultures does not mean dismissing anything local as parochial. Far from it. The pros and cons of globalisation remain a hot topic. But Laurent and Nathalia believe businesses that look for local solutions have a vital role.

“You can already see it with younger CEOs coming in or start-ups showing they can slow down globalisation a little,” says Laurent, who will do an internship in rail logistics at Deutsche Bahn this summer. “The pandemic shows we might be a bit too interdependent with certain necessary goods, like medication. We need to balance the local and the global.”

Nathalia points to food miles as an example of how more localisation could drive wider progress. “People go to the supermarket and want to buy foods that are not in season,” she says. “I hope people will become more aware of where products come from, as well as the effects on people in supply chains. Unless this changes, businesses will not change – they’ll give people what they want.”

Both students are impressed with how strongly their courses at ESCP focus on sustainability, which encourages open-mindedness about local solutions. “ESCP really focuses on it a lot, which is great,” says Nathalia.

Photos: Nathalia Rocha/Laurent Högl-Roy

Optimism in a long-term outlook 

“On the face of it, shareholder value is the dumbest idea in the world.” It’s just over a decade since Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, made this shock declaration about corporate excess.

In 2020, is the trend finally turning away from short-term strategies that seek to maximize profits at all costs? It may be too early to say. But ESCP’s Bachelor in Management (BSc) aims to support a more long-term perspective on prosperity.

Nathalia hopes to see changes in the clothing industry. “With fast fashion, they usually don’t give a living wage to people making the clothes,” she says. “The quality is poor, so people buy things and throw them away.”

“Business should be done for the good of society,” adds Laurent. “Without society there are no customers. My generation can see and build on what has been successful until now but we can also focus on what has been going wrong. I think we have a very interesting future and I’m rather optimistic.”

With its emphasis on ethics and sustainable solutions, ESCP’s BSc is giving a new wave of decision-makers the tools to turn their visions today into tomorrow’s reality.

Ready to be a next generation decision-maker? Find out more about ESCP’s Bachelor in Management (BSc), which starts on September 14th for first year students in the 2020/21 intake – with classes on campus and/or online in accordance with national government recommendations. 

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How do I get a student visa for Germany and what does it let me do?

Germany offers an excellent quality of education for much lower fees than universities in most English-speaking countries. Plus, a student visa comes with a few extra advantages – if you can get your head around the bureaucracy. Here's what you need to know.

How do I get a student visa for Germany and what does it let me do?

In stark contrast to many countries – particularly English-speaking ones – where tuition fees can run you up a bill into the thousands every semester, studying at a German university comes at a typical price tag in the hundreds, yes hundreds, of euros per year. Rather than explicit tuition fees, students at German public universities, even non-EU international ones, pay an “administrative fee” of around €300 a semester, which often includes a transport ticket.

That’s on top of Germany having high quality education and offering a relatively affordable environment for students.

But as with so many things about life in Germany, the key question is: what about the bureaucracy?

While it comes with its fair share of paperwork, a German student visa is a bit simpler to figure out than many other German visas, and it comes with some important privileges other countries don’t always have for their student visas.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The different types of higher education in Germany

Who needs a student visa vs. a student residence permit?

Germany’s residence permit system of immigration means that you generally apply for your right to stay in the country to pursue your studies from your local immigration office after you’ve already arrived, found accommodation, and registered with your local authority at the Bürgeramt.

Any non-EU citizen staying in Germany for longer than three months to study at a German public university, accredited private university, or technical institute needs to apply for this permit.

To get it, you’ll need to make an appointment with your local immigration office and bring your cache of documents. The most important of these, rather obviously, is a certificate confirming your enrolment in an accredited study programme. You’ll also obviously need your application form, biometric pictures, and your valid passport with your valid visa to enter Germany – if you needed one to travel to the country.

A sign on the State Office for Immigration (LEA) on Friedrich-Krause-Ufer in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jörg Carstensen

You may also be asked for proof of health insurance and financial resources to support yourself, which typically will be a deposit in a blocked account proving you have enough money to live in Germany for a year. This is typically just under €1,000 a month. You may also be asked for the same documents you will have used to register your address with your local authority – such as your rental contract or letter from your landlord confirming your address. Then you’ll need to pay the fee.

READ ALSO: Tip of the week: How to open a blocked account in Germany

As many veterans of German bureaucracy might tell you: when in doubt, bring every document you can.

Once your residence permit is granted, you can stay in Germany up to the end of its validity. If you don’t finish your studies by the time it runs out, you can typically apply to extend it by booking another appointment at your local or regional immigration office and providing proof of progress in your studies.

While all non-EU students generally need a residence permit, not everyone needs a student visa to enter the country. If you’re a national of a country that enjoys visa-free travel with Germany, you can enter Germany without applying for a student visa first and stay for up to three months while waiting for your student residence permit to be processed.

Visa application forms

Visa application forms at Hamburg Foreigner’s Office. Recent graduates of German universities are entitled to a special type of jobseeker’s visa, and a shorter wait to permanent residence if they find a job. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jonas Walzberg

Students who aren’t from a country with visa-free travel with Germany will need to apply for a student visa at a German embassy or consulate abroad to be able to enter Germany. They’ll typically need the same documents as a residence permit applicant will need, along with certain identity documents, like their birth certificate.

Can I work as a student in Germany?

Yes. But there is a limit on how much time you can work while studying. Non-EU students can generally work up to 120 full days per six-month semester – or 240 half days – without approval from immigration offices. This doesn’t count any work that students might do while on semester break, during which no limit applies.

Self-employment is also allowed, but does need the permission of the relevant immigration office, which will determine whether the self-employed work could jeopardise studies.

That said, the government is currently in the process of loosening these rules to make studying in Germany more attractive – and affordable – for people from abroad. New, looser rules could potential come in later this year. 

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: What’s in Germany’s new draft law on skilled immigration?

What happens after I graduate?

Owing to the country’s skilled labour shortage, after you graduate your programme in Germany, you can renew your student residence permit and stay in the country for up to 18 months to find a position relating to your qualifications.

If you find a relevant job, you can then convert your student permit into an applicable work visa and stay in Germany to work.

For more information on how that works, you can check out our dedicated article on the subject.

READ ALSO: How to stay in Germany after graduating from a German university