No more clichés! To learn more about the field of management control, the first-year Master’s students at MBS have produced some innovative, creative videos

 

For the third year in a row, the first-year Master’s students at Montpellier Business School have produced videos in groups to explain what being a management controller really involves. The person behind this educational project is Associate Professor Guylaine Loubet, who leads the Management Control course.

“The goal is to learn more about what management controllers do, since their job is often confused with that of accountants, financial directors, auditors, etc. And the term ‘controller’ makes it sound like a law enforcement role, so I want the students to understand what exactly it entails,” she says. “During the course, I explain the methods and tools used, but then I realised the students themselves had trouble defining what the job actually consists of. By having them interview management controllers and showing them clips of currently working management controllers, I ask them to come up with a summary introduction to the position. To make it fun, I thought that making videos could be a good way to explore the subject matter in depth while letting them be creative in a group assignment.”

In this video, they have two minutes to explain what this job is, as well as what it’s not. Boards of examiners made up of professors and administrative managers have watched nearly a hundred videos: “We judge based on the message, but not only on that. The video also has to be appealing, and the students have to be original.” All the first-year Master’s students — nearly 700 in total — were divided into one of three categories (French-speaking, English-speaking, and apprentices), given that not all students work at the same pace, or even use the same language. “In the end, I think the goal was achieved by most students. They understand the job better, and the group work will give them good experience working with others. As for me, I really appreciate their work and their creativity,” she says, smiling. “Of course, thanks also go to the members of the boards of examiners, to Melinda Chehimi, who teaches management control with me, and to the MBS audiovisual department, who edited the videos and organised the awards ‘ceremony’: the best groups win cinema tickets.”

The students have also submitted a written summary explaining the profession. But how would Guylaine Loubet explain it? “Executive management decides on strategy, and the management controller translates it into objectives for each of the operational managers. With these objectives, effective planning can be made in all areas. The management controller compares the objectives with the outcome and calculates what gaps there are, then seeks to explain and communicate them to those concerned (operational directors, executive management, etc.) in a trend chart. This sheds light on their decisions, and they can take corrective action. They’re like a co-driver who provides information to the driver. Like in rally racing! They also have an advisory role. For example, when a new product is going to be launched, they may make some localised calculations.” But how is this different from what an accountant does? “An accountant records the company’s operations according to very strict rules (the chart of accounts). The management controller should be comfortable with accountancy, but should also be creative, have excellent interpersonal skills, show listening and empathy, understand others’ jobs, and have some charisma, too.”

In short, it’s a job worth knowing about. Which the second-year Master’s students starting Professor Loubet’s Management Control course in a few weeks won’t fail to do!

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