The eco-interview: Richard Soparnot, CEO of ESC Clermont Business School.

Richard Soparnot has just succeeded Françoise Roudier as head of the Clermont-Ferrand business school. Between attractiveness and competitiveness, we met the new director to learn more about the man, his function and his ambitions for the centenary school…Portrait

Introduce yourself to our readers

Richard Soparnot: “I had the first part of my career as a teacher-researcher, professor of strategy and sustainability in organizations and then director of research at a business school. I then headed towards the Amiens campus. Since 2017 I was academic director of ESC Clermont Business School, then deputy managing director in October 2020 and CEO for one month. »

What experience in your career are you most proud of?

RS: “Having experienced the failure of a merger and a PSE has made me very human to stay the course in the face of storms. Then my international experiences in different countries gave me a broader, more global perspective. It is an opportunity to do business, evolve with different cultural codes and acquire relational skills while remaining humble and mindful »

You have taught in Shanghai and Pennsylvania, how many languages ​​do you speak?

RS: “Yes, I have taught in China, the USA, the Middle East, and I continue to do so for our international partners. I really enjoy it: it is a moment of breath that allows me to stay in touch, there is always something going on in a classroom … but I only speak two languages, French and English. I know a few polite phrases in Chinese, but not much more.”

To you, what qualities are necessary for a business school director?

RS: “You must already be legitimate in front of the institution’s various professions, of course the internal teams such as the professors, but also the promotion and communication team, even if you are not an expert, you must have a good understanding of these subjects. You also need to be legitimate to external stakeholders, governance, accreditors, candidates, students, journalists (laughs). The second quality is that you must be confident and calm: this applies to all managers, all ship captains, you must remain calm and propose a vision, a project, built together with the teams, a horizon to give meaning to everyday life. »

What are the strengths of ESC Clermont Business School?

RS: “I see three main things. The first is that we are a human-scale school compared to other schools, which are big boats with mass pedagogy. We are on an opposite model, which favors personalization of courses and local support, small educational groups for to maximize interactivity.

We are also a school with tuition fees that change more slowly and remain reasonable. We have an optimal return on educational investment: we offer a diploma with the same level of recognition and the same accreditations at international level, the same opportunities, but with lower tuition fees. There is a “value for money” which is attractive.

We are a territorial school which participates in the development of this. It is our DNA: we maintain very close links with our institutional and socio-economic ecosystems, with the AuRA region, with the CCI Puy-de-Dôme, with the Clermont Auvergne Métropole, which greatly supports us. We are at the service of local companies with the ambition of global reach. We welcome 670 international students who come from 60 different countries. We also send our students abroad.

The third, newer, strength is that we are a school committed to a better world, socially, ecologically. Carbon footprint, sobriety plan, policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions…we have a significant role to play. »

What is your ambition for ESC?

RS: “We have defined a vision to be the school that reveals the talents and passions of our students to turn them into a new generation of change agents who place people and the planet at the heart of their choices. My dream is that in 5, 10 years can say that ESC Clermont has played its part and trained people who have created a better world This great ambition is based on beliefs: The school has a capacity to sign up for a better world We must act as closely as possible in the field Our students are not born engaged, so we have to seduce them by exposing their talents to mobilize them.

Our aim is to develop the school’s attractiveness at national and international level, to support our economic model, to make the experience of ESC Clermont remarkable and to have a positive impact on the world. We must look for the last accreditation we lack: EQUIS (European Quality Improvement System), we must create an ESC Clermont Campus in Morocco and create institutions at national level. The project is called “Reveal 2027”

If you had a magic wand, what would you change?

RS: “ First, I will accelerate the development of our ERP to improve the comfort of the teams. I would reduce the time to achieve the EQUIS mark. I want to immediately help us get a few ranks in the ranking of Grandes Ecoles, nationally and internationally. »

Where is the project to expand the future campus?

RS: The financing is complete with our institutional partners: the Region will support this project with 4 million euros, the Clermont-Auvergne Métropole 3 million euros and the departmental council of Puy-de-Dôme 1 million euros. It reflects that we are a local school. First pick in the next few days. It’s a big 18-month project, the school gets an additional 3,000 m2 and top-class infrastructure. A beautiful campus of almost 15,000 m2 in the heart of the city is an incredible asset for all… Expected delivery in April 2024 »

What job did the young Richard Soparnot dream of?

RS: “When I was young, I wanted to be a veterinarian, and quite quickly I started studying economics and business. I enjoyed it very much. It was in licensure that I understood that my path would be to become a teacher. I started my career as a research professor as a young PhD student, around 24 years old. »

To please yourself, would you rather be invited to lunch or to a rugby match?

RS: “For a rugby match, I was invited there two or three times, and you could eat and drink there, so it was perfect (laughs). »

Anything to add?

RS: “I discovered the school and Clermont and I fell in love with the school with all its assets, its qualities, its potential. I immediately felt very good there, we do things seriously without taking ourselves too seriously. ESC Clermont has become my favorite school, whose model I defend. »

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