BtoB, a new growth driver for INSEEC

lespine-aaaINSEEC, a French leader in higher education, is entering a new market – professional training. Catherine Lespine, its CEO, tells us why.


Professional training is an important growth driver

“The professional training market is booming”, Catherine explains. According to her, the historical players have remained static, failing to embrace digital technologies, and the market has gradually fragmented. This effect was accentuated by the reform of professional training in 2014, when a new programme, the “CPF” (Compte Personnel de Formation, or individual training account) was introduced, replacing the previous system. The principal change is that only training programmes tied directly to the employee’s activities are now eligible for the CPF. Catherine points out that “this new programme is not compatible with the traditional training courses that were the norm prior to the reform.” As a result, all training courses need to be redesigned in a more structured way so as to enhance professional skills.”

INSEEC intends to take the lion’s share of this rapidly changing market. Catherine has identified a target audience often overlooked by traditional organisations: 25-35 year olds. “With the speed at which the digital transformation has been taking place in recent years, even young 32-year-old professionals could soon find themselves lacking relevant skills.” In her view, companies have tended to focus on their older employees in the past, but today they are keen to invest massively in their younger employees in the aim of increasing their productivity and employability.

BtoB is a natural extension of INSEEC’s existing business

In response to these new needs, INSEEC has developed certificate-based training courses for young professionals. It has done so by building on the academic excellence of its programmes ranging from post-baccalaureate to PhD level, as well as its network of professors, research centres, digital teaching know-how and its national and international presence. The watchwords for its training courses are digital, marketing and management. “From fintech to Google-certified training programmes and from mobile migration to SEO, we have taken our schools’ more theoretical courses and adapted them into new operational programmes.” New BtoB activities will be centralised in one entity covering the whole of the group, most likely under the umbrella brand IFG, with sub-brands. One of these, Luxury Attitude, a consulting firm specialising in the human dimension of service, is considered a model of innovation. “In 2015, we launched the first global training course certifying an aptitude to work in the luxury sector. Based on an e-movie learning concept, ‘You make luxury come true’ is a fully digital product. We now support groups including Melia Hotels International, Waldorf Astoria and Luxottica.”

The virtuous circle of BtoB/BtoC

Beyond the educational similarities, the BtoB/BtoC crossover within the Group is evident in our long-standing partnerships with the private sector through internships, sandwich courses, corporate funding from professional training taxes, etc. “When students and their parents learn that we are developing in the BtoB market, this often seals the deal for them as they appreciate that a Group such as ours is invested to such an extent in the corporate world.” Conversely, once the students have found work, Catherine explains, they sometimes become ambassadors of INSEEC within their company. “Recently, a fresh graduate from Bordeaux had an interview with the CEO of a famous New York jeweller. During the interview, she mentioned that she had been awarded the Luxury Attitude certificate. Shortly thereafter, she was recruited and the CEO got in touch with us to deploy the training programme for his employees.” The virtuous circle also extends to innovation. “BtoB makes it easier for us to develop innovations, and as we have seen with e-movie learning, we come up against less resistance than in the BtoC sector. Once the concepts have been tried and tested in a BtoB environment, it is easier to apply them in our schools.”

Any last remarks?

“Since these solutions complement our traditional academic training programmes so well, we have the gravitas needed to develop in the professional training market. Our next priority is to extend our presence abroad, in particular in Europe. We will do this by focusing on digital technology, offering 100% online certificate or diploma courses, and leveraging the appeal of our campuses in London, Geneva, Shanghai and San Francisco through our hybrid learning courses”.


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Apax Talks is a digital magazine aimed at company managers. It presents growth levers for SMEs, with a focus on TMT, consumer, healthcare and services sectors.