French Business Schools Bring Mindfulness to Management

Cécile Peltier, Translated by Nina Fink
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Le centre de développement personnel et managérial de GEM propose à l’ensemble de ses étudiants des ateliers de "pleine conscience".
Grenoble Ecole de Management offers mindfulness workshops to all its students. // ©  GEM
Mindfulness exercises are nothing new at universities in Anglo-Saxon countries. In France, they are gaining ground, especially at business schools that prioritize personal development skills. From improved concentration to better listening skills and greater compassion, the benefits of these meditative practices could help students succeed at school and beyond.

Students studying macroeconomics at French management school ESSCA are learning a new skill: meditation. Based on a secular practice inherited from Buddhism, the semester-long exercises were the brainchild of economics professor Stéphane Justeau.

Mind Over Matter

French universities, medical schools and business schools on the hunt for the latest innovations are increasingly offering mindfulness workshops to both students and staff. The practice can help students gain perspective and make better decisions regarding their academic and professional paths.

Yet, meditation is still seen as an esoteric exercise. Initially, Justeau scheduled the short mindful breathing exercise, which he purposefully renamed “attention training, ” for the end of class so that students could opt out. To his surprise, “Not only did students stay but after the third session, they asked if we could do the exercise at the start of class.”

Listening Skills

At Kedge Business School, meditation made its debut in 2014 during the Two Weeks of Wellness event. Since then, Kedge has held an annual ten-hour-long breathing and meditation workshop. Additionally, trainer Amanda Schmitt has launched Thursday lunch sessions that have likewise been popular with students and staff. “It gives them a real break and the chance to reconnect with their bodies and the present moment at a time when we are inundated with information,” notes Schmitt.

For Christelle Tornikoski, management professor at Grenoble Ecole de Management, “One of the main problems at companies is that employees have a hard time hearing the signals their bodies send them.” With 20 years of experience using mindfulness in the classroom, the school is still a trailblazer in France. Now it offers a 27-hour-long mindful leadership master class.

Tornikoski explains, “The idea is to help students understand that in the working world, the most important thing is not just getting the job done but your ability to listen to yourself, to others and to what’s going on around you in order to build strong relationships, whether that’s with your coworkers, contractors or clients.”

Read the full article (in French)

Cécile Peltier, Translated by Nina Fink | Publié le