Energy professionals are in many ways a natural fit for the Executive MBA. Indeed, 16 percent of the most recent intake are energy professionals in some capacity.
The vast majority of these energy industry pros are products of prestigious technical schools in their countries of origin, very often capping off their studies by becoming engineers for multi-national companies.
These highly accomplished, specialized technicians are often then fast-tracked for managerial positions in their companies; it is at this stage they consider programs like the HEC Paris Executive MBA to bolster business and management acumen, filling the knowledge gap.
In a recent informational webinar, three such alumni – Karl Mokambo Mouissy, Maiada El Khalifa, and Wesam Abouturkia –discussed the clear career advantages afforded to them by their time at the HEC EMBA.
What was your motivation in pursuing your Executive MBA at HEC Paris?
Karl Mokambo Mouissy: I was working for Shell Gabon, as Business Advisor to the CEO. Our biggest project was divesting from Gabon, and liquidating $720 million worth of assets. With my expansive responsibilities, realized that I had some knowledge gaps, even coming from a technical background. Though the divestment was a success, I realized that I had to fast track success and career. HEC was the perfect program to accomplish this.
Maiada El Khalifa: For exposure mainly in widening my knowledge. At the time of applying, I was Financial Controller for our office in Paris, covering finance for the EMEA Exploration (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) region. I needed exposure and new networks in other domains to see and learn what it offers.
Wesam Abouturkia: I was based in Paris as VP of Supply Chain and IT Services with 18 years of experience. There was an appetite to look at the overall energy sector outside of oil and gas. I also wanted to get some exposure and experience in the entrepreneurial field. Finally, I wanted to be able to develop myself on the digital side – that’s why I ended up choosing the digital transformation specialization.
In the EMBA, you’re given insight into how companies operate on a broader perspective. What are your thoughts on the evolution of the energy sector? What’s the big picture, and what are some new pressures the sector is facing?
KMM: I think energy is still key. Everything we do requires energy; the big question is: which kind do we use moving forward? If you just compare how climate temperatures have increased and the disasters they’ve created, it’s obvious that we have to take decisive actions like decarbonizing and then compensating by using clean energy. If leaders don’t act now, in 50-100 years everything will be destroyed. Action is needed now for cleaner energy.
“We still need energy, but what kind? After all the modules we’ve taken in the EMBA, it’s opened my mind to the importance of sustainability.”
MEK: We still need energy, but what kind? After all the modules we’ve taken in the EMBA, it’s opened my mind to the importance of sustainability. COVID somehow accelerated the implications of health risks and climate change, which needs a closer look and attention. Financial risks are associated with the two and we should be prepared to manage those risks and capitalize on possibilities that come with them. First, big change is needed in renewables; we’ve seen big news from multinationals moving huge chunks of their portfolios into renewables. Digitalization is another factor. I think the world will transform, and the energy sector is no different. 2020 had a big impact on how the future will bee. It’s given us a glimpse, and we’ll see changes across all sectors.
WA: The economy requires energy. But deciding the balance between fossil fuels and renewables is the key. I’ll talk about oil and gas specifically. Since 2015, the sector has gone through a very challenging time, and now it’s important to see how companies react. Major companies are looking at renewables; also, factors like CSR and the business environment are putting pressure on companies. That’s where and why they need transformation: so they can deliver differently in the coming years.
What would your advice be on getting company support for pursuing an EMBA?
KMM: My advice would be to advise your company about your intentions as soon as possible. Your management has to trust you, which largely depends on your organizational skills. Be sure to have a good plan: organize yourself, delegate tasks, and be flexible. What top management is looking for is to be able to deliver the business even while you are not there. Do your best to make sure that things go smoothly while you’re not at work, and they don’t have to call you to solve problems.
MEK: I had a yearly plan with all the key dates of the EMBA highlighted. You need to communicate that plan to your management. In addition, you would need to make a personal plan for yourself on how you will manage work obligations, how to effectively delegate and ensure work goes on well during your absence. Expect to work a lot of weekends. There are always unforeseen commitments that come up, so you have to also be able to adapt to them.
How did you feel about your skills by the end of the program?
KMM: I feel much more comfortable. Now, I understand the logic and key strategies behind the divestments.
MEK: It’s been transformational for me in terms of filling in my knowledge gaps. It’s given me a good overall view of the entire business environment,and how business decisions are affected. Before, I felt that I had been in one domain for too long. With the EMBA, I have been exposed to marketing, innovation and entrepreneurship- subjects that seems far from my current experience and in which I found great interest. I therefore truly believe that this exposure helps in deciding the next steps one would like to take in the future.
“The journey of the EMBA will help equip you with new tools that you will be able to use on the job.”
WA: The EMBA helped me to close knowledge gaps. It also helped me mix techniques, tools, and knowledge that I gained during the program. I feel like it’s made me ready for the future, and is very useful for me in my new role as Managing Director. The journey of the EMBA will help equip you with new tools that you will be able to use on the job. You’ll be able to close gaps, and to demonstrate those new skills. It makes you more confident on different matters on the business side, too. The digital part has helped immensely in my ability to implement new tools and techniques for better optimization.
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.