There are myriad reasons why people decide to pursue an Executive MBA.
Business leaders will occasionally arrive at the realization that although they are already experienced managers, there are aspects of their work that they wish they understood better. Often, their motivation lies in the desire for advanced business courses that delve into the intricacies of various management challenges. Still other seasoned industry professionals find that, for any number of reasons, they want to make a change in the sector or direction of their careers – to pivot.
Deepak Choudhary falls into the final category.
A veteran of the oil and gas industry, Deepak spent 9 years at the French multinational colossus Total, rising from Process Engineer to Senior Process Planning Engineer.
Today, he’s a Digital Transformation Consultant at Boston Consulting Group (BCG); an Executive MBA from HEC Paris facilitated the dramatic change in profession and sharpened the arc of his career. We sat down with Deepak to find out how this all came about.
Why did you want to pursue an Executive MBA?
I come from a highly technical field: an engineer’s life is conducted in black and white. We like numbers, and we like things to fit, and maybe we don’t have as much creativity. When you are an engineer only, or from a technical background, sometimes you spend too much time digging down into a topic that you love too much, which isn’t very profitable to the organization. At a certain point in my career, I was managing teams. A little bit later in that process, I thought that having more business skills would be helpful for me.
What were your professional goals when you started looking for Executive MBA programs?
I was always sure I wanted to be a consultant. Working as a consultant is proof to yourself that your career has progressed, and that you could do more. Each consulting organization always claims to have the best brains, which is why they can charge such premiums. I wanted to prove to myself that I could be part of one of those organization charging such premiums. BCG and McKinsey were at the top of my list.
I also wanted to change my career path. I was looking for a way to get out of a purely technical field and make an impact in a strategic role. That’s why I eventually chose my specialization in Digital Transformation. I wanted to take the lessons I learned about such a modern and agile discipline and be able to apply them in improving the processes present in the oil and gas industry, with which I am intimately familiar and then get into something more forward-thinking, like renewables.
Why did you choose the HEC Paris Executive MBA?
Because it’s one of the best schools in the world. Also because the synergy was very good on a host of factors; having a strong network is important, and having worked for TOTAL, a French company, for much of my career, I was always going to try for HEC first – its reputation for having the best professional network is second to none. I was sure that if I was able to get into HEC, I would always be able to count on colleagues, professors, and fellow alumni in the network. And it’s true – you can always rely on them; they’re always helpful and supportive. You’re getting a big family! It was also important that TOTAL was willing to support me throughout my program. As it happens, I applied to and accepted a job at BCG during my EMBA, and BCG supported me just as much well.
What did you learn in the program, and did it meet your expectations?
In the EMBA, you learn how to effectively solve complex organizational problems while being diplomatic. Coming from such a technical background, it was important for me to get more of that business sense – I was able to learn how to prioritize based on what would bring the most value to the organization. Today, for example, I regularly present progress reports to directors of big oil and gas companies. Most of the time, people don’t want to be told “no.” Part of what the HEC EMBA taught me was how to tell high-level stakeholders “no”, but with an extreme and deliberate level of tact. This was a big part of the appeal of HEC for me: I was able to start seeing the professional world in different dimensions, because of the different backgrounds you do your degree with. You’ll have people from banking, finance, and startups in your cohort; your perspective on your professional life will totally change. HEC changed my mindset.
I was lucky enough to attain all my goals, so yes, I’m very satisfied. I was lucky enough to get the job at BCG in the middle of my program, so I haven’t been able to benefit from the alumni system so far!
Digital Transformation doesn’t necessarily mean big change! Even a small, seemingly insignificant change can pay big dividends down the road.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your new career in Digital Transformation?
Digital Transformation is a popular term nowadays, but I mean to pass this message: Digital Transformation doesn’t necessarily mean big change! Even a small, seemingly insignificant change can pay big dividends down the road. It’s all about streamlining processes: if you can improve the efficiency of one of your organizations’ processes and save everybody 5 minutes, that 5 minutes of everybody’s time adds up quickly. One of the most interesting things is that even right now during Covid-19, budgets aren’t getting cut on the digital side because everyone’s afraid of getting left behind. But the reality is that you always need to be creative nowadays, because nobody actually knows what they’re doing! The job description for Digital Transformation never includes any level of certainty. You have to be creative, adaptive, and fascinated to learn things. It’s a level of uncertainty that requires a creative side of me that I never would have been able to access if I didn’t have this HEC training.
More CEOs of Fortune Global 500 companies have graduated from HEC Paris than any other university in Europe, and nearly 4,000 graduates are currently CEOs, CFOs, or have founded their own companies. According to the Financial Times, the HEC Paris Executive MBA is ranked #1 in Europe and #3 in the world; click here to learn more about this world-class program.