Cyrille Vigneron (ESCP 82) brought ESCP and HEC Paris students in the same room for cross-generational dialogues

A groundbreaking joint research Chair between HEC Paris-ESCP business school and Maison Cartier, launched in January 2021, has just renewed for a further 3 years, a mark of recognition of its excellence. This is a great example showing two business schools cooperating to unlock value as Cyrille Vigneron mentioned: “During the past 3 years, the GenZ observatory of the Turning Points Chair has produced great insights on what GenZ thinks of important societal topics. As these topics are universal, it is now important to open up the conversation to other generations, to better understand other’s point of views or just realise that some apparently new questions are not as new as they seem.”

On March 20, ESCP Business School opened its door at the Champerret campus to welcome voices of the corporate world, science, academia, and the arts in a joint dialogue dedicated to exploring the elusive nature of beauty and how to transcend generational barriers. Offering the amazing opportunity to gather in a same room 200+ HEC Paris and ESCP students to get inspiration from the conversations, these panels were introduced by Cyrille Vigneron (ESCP Alumnus and President and CEO, Cartier), and moderated by the two co-scientific Directors of the Chair Prof. Anne-Laure Sellier (HEC Paris) and Prof. Benjamin Voyer (ESCP).

These cross-generational dialogues convened a select group of panellists with a shared conviction to cultivate a stage for contemporary debate and philosophical reflection, exploring its implications across layers of society.
These dialogues gathered, among others, both former and current content curators from the GenZ Observatory, an initiative spearheaded by Prof. Ben Voyer since 2021.


photo du groupe avec la team HEC Paris - ESCP ainsi que Cartier


Prof. Ben Voyer moderated the first roundtable discussion about the elusive nature of beauty, inviting on stage Lynn Serfaty, Mission Director, History, Myths and Tales, Cartier; Nicolas Mas, ESCP student, Gen Z Observatory content curator 2022-23 ; Farah Houari, ESCP alumni, Gen Z Observatory content curator 2022-23 ; Emmanuel Boos, Ceramic artist.

Alma Ullen, ESCP Alumni, Gen Z Observatory content curator (2021-22) and Sayoko Magron, ESCP Student and  Gen Z Observatory content curator (2023-24) attended and shared with us their takeaways.

Beauty revealed itself as a paradoxical force. An obsession, a pursuit, harmony, or perhaps even beauty as violence — the opening panel dared to question conventional definitions as they reflected on the emotion and physicality inherent to the concept. Within this mysticism, beauty seems to encompass contradicting definitions all at once. It resides not only in heightened and perfected harmony; another, uncontrollable form of beauty lives in chance, accidents, and the pursuit of an idea. As an artist’s hand often weaves between precision and improvisation, beauty invites us to explore, question, and reach for the unreachable. A testament of beauty that evening rested in the panellists’ willingness to engage in candid and reactive conversation. Their free-spoken and explorative interactions awakened the audience and demonstrated the value of open dialogue and the value of being surprised. This exchange serves as a reminder of the broader purpose of such discussions - to foster understanding, empathy, and unity across diverse perspectives, ultimately enriching our collective experience. 

When talking about beauty, questions emerged from the audience such as "Is beauty in our society toxic?" or "Are we living in a post-beauty world?”, which led to redefining what we call beauty, across the generations. We've noticed the emergence of two types of “beauty”. One with a capital B, an ideal, an absolute, une "fin en soi". A beauty to be found in the arts, in poetry. Today, however, a much more prosaic, sensitive beauty seems to have taken over our generation -- an appearance, a physique, that is becoming a social status rather than an aesthetic value. This specific form of beauty can, in fact, be the source of a certain toxicity, a quest for unattainable perfection. Ultimately, the conversation ended on a general consensus that beauty might rather be found in imperfection, in its most human aspect, a beauty that would then be cross-generational. 

After a 40-min fascinating debate about beauty, Prof. Anne Laure Sellier invited Veronica Prat Van Thiel, International High Jewellery Director, Cartier ; Tiffany Lam, HEC Paris student, Gen Z Observatory content curator 2023-24 ; Sinan Bursa, Data Manager, Cartier; Gen Z Observatory content curator 2021-22 and Ginevra Capece Galeota, Director, Global Creative Lead and Strategist, Meta to take part into the second panel to discuss how to transcend generational barriers.

Panel 2

In the second panel, our cross-generational dialogue explored questions how we approach age in today's society. Younger individuals, raised in a more global context, develop fluency from an early age. Yet, age silos hinder knowledge sharing. Reflecting on Ancient Greece and the technological era, the discussion highlighted enduring empathy and concern.

While generational narratives emphasise differences, the panel stressed universal experiences and the importance of empathy in understanding isolation. However, reducing viewpoints based on age risks oversimplification. The event overcame this hurdle, creating discourse beyond generational boundaries.