Pascal Decombis explains how he teaches entrepreneurship via distance learning

 

With 20 years of experience in strategy consulting for business leaders, Pascal Decombis imparts his knowledge in entrepreneurship to our last-year Bachelor students and first-year MBA students.

What does a teaching day look like for you?

For Vatel Bordeaux, I do remote teaching from 7 am until 7 pm one day per week, 1 hour per group and the rest is dedicated to questions/answers via email, with answers sent during the week in 24 to 48 hours.

What is your teaching method?

My teaching method is action learning with three main educational goals:

  • Autonomy of the learner, finding a balance between individual freedom and the constraints of an educational environment
  • Experience learning through real-world situations and reflecting on them
  • Collective approach which not only supports learning but also the students’ actions

How does remote learning alter this concept?

From the beginning, I made the choice of teaching individuals within groups, instead of giving lectures.

Consequently, adapting to my learner is a solid conviction of mine and a necessary foundation to progress in the entrepreneurship sector where a multi-disciplinary mindset is essential. Entrepreneurship is closely linked to strategy because this aspect is dependent on all others. It is similar to a maestro who relies on his orchestra and strives to find the best harmony between all musicians.

  • I use many technical notes as a supportive tool (1 to 2 pages for a quick reading) which I send to all students wherever I spot shortcomings in their methodology or technical, accounting, financial or marketing flaws. A practical reminder understandable by all.
  • I adapt my response to each group according to their progress pace and the specificity of their project. This diversity makes it hard for the collective learning to function.

Do you have any tips and advice to give to your students so that they keep the momentum going?

  • To have a plan,
  • To discuss with other professionals as often as necessary,
  • Imperatively to read the press.

Is it easy to build a remote relationship with your students?

I like to continuously experiment things and I am an eternal apprentice. I like learning through action, through case study, an approach adopted by Harvard Business school.
Students should be immersed in a real context and gain a practical experience they can build on in the future. It is certainly a longer process to establish but I personally think the outcome is more in line with the requirements of the sector and its business leaders. I think that collective lectures are a thing of the past.
I try to get the students to meet industry professionals as often as possible as their words back mine and I also bring forward my experience as a strategy planner.

Do you have any tips that you’d like to communicate to your peers?

No. It’s not easy as I love face to face learning, sustaining relationships and personal contact and I am a strong believer in this teaching format. Distance makes this process slower even when using the most cutting-edge technical tools.

Discover our lecturer’s Gaëlle Laroutis views on virtual learning, she teaches enterprise marketing techniques.