Graduation Series: How an EMBA helped prepare Margherita Kochi to face the unexpected.

Margherita Kochi was preparing to celebrate her approaching Executive MBA when she was confronted with a Black Swan in the form of a global pandemic.

As part of our special 2020 Graduation Series, our newest alumni share the highlight of their Executive MBA journey.

“After 18 months, 14 business courses, hundreds of workshops held in Paris & Shanghai, thousands of reports which developed a personal addiction to power point presentations and uncountable WhatsApp messages with my mates, here I am. The moment has come. Graduation.   

Everything started on September 26th, 2018 when I met 54 people coming from allfour corners of the world. What I didn’t know at that time was that after 18 months, I would call those 54 executive leaders friends.

I had high expectations and a dream: becoming the best version of myself. During the EMBA, I refined my business acumen and I developed a positive attitude towards my intuitions. They are a kind of wisdom. A form of knowing without reasoning which protect possibilities instead of just accepting the probabilities.

“During the EMBA, I refined my business acumen and I developed a positive attitude towards my intuitions.” Margherita Kochi, HEC Paris EMBA Graduate 2020

I was about to plan the graduation trip with my fellows to celebrate our achievement together when suddenly, we met a Black Swan. Here we were in the midst of a global pandemic. Faced with this huge disruption, our plans  no longer made sense.

As scary and uncertain these times might be, I had two choices in front of me: let the fear of uncertainty prevail or prevail on the uncertainty. Big opportunities arise from big challenges. It has always been true of big moments in history.

“Big opportunities arise from big challenges. It has always been true of big moments in history.” 

The pandemic brought existing problems into focus: it deepened economic inequality, weaknesses in the medical system, the need for more responsible behaviours, the urgency to switch to a sustainable economy. I learned that money is not important if everybody is sick.

HEC Paris EMBA alumni Marco Merolla and Margarita Kochi

“The bad news is that the burden we have inherited is heavy and we have the responsibility to rewrite what is possible. The good news is that we have been trained to turn challenges into opportunities.”

We, the Class of 2020, have the chance to create a new normal. It’s time to allow possibilities to become realities. It’s time to overcome our bias, build our credibility as leaders and own our instincts. It’s time to use our talent to illuminate the darkness in the world. It’s our time.

So, what are my key takeaways from this once-in-a-lifetime experience?

I’ve learned that anything can be conveyed with an excel file and a chart.

I’ve learned to trust my intuitions as a business leader.

I’ve learned that you can keep going without sleeping for a while if your WHY is strong enough.

I’ve learned that 54 strangers can become your best friends.

I’ve learned that the more I know, the more I dare.

Graduation is a big achievement under any circumstance. Mine comes in a moment where the world has been hit by a pandemic and turned upside down by social upheavals.

Congratulations Class of 2020! We shared a unique experience, living and graduating during these unprecedented times.”

Margherita Kochi lives in Paris and works as Retail Deputy Director & Business Strategy Expert at luxury fashion brand Burberry.