Students Experience the Real World of L’Oreal: Because It’s Worth It
“It’s a link between the two worlds,” said Nahed Azab, adjunct faculty at the Department of Management about her students recently having an opportunity to train with one of the world's leading personal care companies, L’Oreal, as part of the course Entrepreneurial IT and Electronic Business. The training integrates the AUC’s Career Center’s Practical Learning Program into academic courses.
The students participated in a competition that asked them to find an e-commerce solution for sub-brands of L'Oreal: Vichy and La Roche Posay.
Azab says this is not the first time she’s incorporated the AUC Career Center Practical Learning Program into the classroom. Through this integration, she hopes to have her class “gain knowledge about what’s happening the world of business in Egypt, the region and the globe.”
This type of opportunity represents a link between academic and practical learning. “Electronic business is a broad meaning. It encompasses a lot of things like ecommerce, communication between employees, collaborative work and business and so on,” Azab explained. “It is the trend now. It was actually even easy for students to grasp it. It’s already happening every day and everywhere.”
In an interactive fashion, the students were divided into four groups, with four members each. They met one, at the beginning, with executives and managers at L’Oreal who assigned them a particular project that involved introducing different products on online platforms. “Our project revolved around creating a digital marketing plan for L’Oreal to use for their Active Cosmetics Division,” said Basma Rasheed , management of information and communication technology (MICT) senior. “This was my favorite part: putting together a plan based on the data we had and presenting it to the L’Oreal management.”
As for the academic aspect, it wasn’t just about learning how things happen now, but how they came to be. “The part I also enjoyed was learning about how these brands came to be and how,” Rasheed continued. “Although they are all under the L’Oreal company, they have completely different marketing strategies and market positions.”
The presentations, which were the last step of the students' project with L’Oreal, mostly explored different possibilities for having a platform with advantages, such as reducing costs, activating customers and increasing revenues. In the process, the students had to create an implementation plan as well as a prototype and recognize the strengths and weaknesses of their current market.
Challenges as Learning Opportunities
In creating plans and strategies for the company, Youssef Rezk, another MICT senior, believes it was the challenges they faced that really cemented the learning process. “We had many setbacks throughout the project where we had to drop all the progress we had and start from scratch three times, one of which was two days before the final presentation,” he recounted. “This taught us resilience, how to work together more efficiently as a team under pressure and how to relate what we've learned so far about the company to our new business model.”
"This is normal," Azab said, "but it’s a good opportunity for them to learn." She explained that this is when her role comes in as a moderator between the employees and students. “I worked with executives in the past, so I know how they think – but I also know how my students think,” she said. “I was attending all the meetings, both academic and business-related. I worked to merge them together and communicate how both will work in the context of technology.”
She also asserts that in the past, she worked with students at Henkel. “Last time at Henkel, they took down some names to offer them jobs after graduation. This time, I received a phone call from L’Oreal head of Active Cosmetics Products requesting me to recommend some students to help in the launching if their e-commerce project,” she states. “They were impressed by our students and preferred to include them in their initiative as they’re well acquainted now with their business. I felt very proud of my students and was happy that I was offered a new opportunity to make a difference in their lives. ”
For Rezk, one of his personal challenges was being a male and having to learn about an industry usually associated with women, and for Rasheed, it was seeing beyond all the glamour that comes with cosmetic industries. At the end, the students were able to grasp substantial knowledge and accumulate skills in a field that requires getting out in the “real world” and examining successes and failures beyond the vicinity of classrooms.