Ever since finishing my master’s in finance degree, I dreamed of doing an MBA.
At first, I thought it would be a full-time MBA, but I was progressing quickly in my career, and I didn’t have the time or the desire to put it on pause.
By the time I was 33, I had 12 years of experience in finance and transformational business projects, with the final 4 at director level. At the time, I was finalizing a big business integration for ABInBev. It went smoothly, and I found that I had free time in my agenda, which allowed me to analyze several key aspects I had been thinking about for a while.
The first was the way leadership was making decisions. In some cases, their rationale was far from obvious. I concluded that the manner leaders made decisions was different. Irrespective of the functional responsibilities, I noticed they took many more factors into consideration; in short, they were approaching decision making from a general manager’s point of view.
The second aspect was linked to my company’s business model. By that time, I knew it intimately, and was interested in exploring the possibilities on offer from other business models on the market.
The third aspect was that being in the same corporation for some time had made life very comfortable. The pitfall of this was that over time, I was getting more and more attached to it, which to me meant that it was time to step out of my comfort zone.
These three aspects brought me back to my dream of doing an MBA.
Making the dream a reality
“I chose the HEC Paris EMBA as I felt a good cultural fit with this business school: its focus on entrepreneurship and innovation, along with a strong vision on sustainability, and best-in-class alumni community were exactly what I was looking for.”
As I was being promoted within my corporation to regional business unit head, I didn’t want to step out of the business for 1-2 years, though.
I wanted to find a way to do an MBA in parallel. That’s how I came to the choice of doing the Executive MBA. I chose the HEC Paris EMBA as I felt a good cultural fit with this business school: its focus on entrepreneurship and innovation, along with a strong vision on sustainability, and best-in-class alumni community were exactly what I was looking for.
I was impressed by people I met in my cohort.
Though they were all executives, they were still extremely humble, and willing to share their experience on different markets, industries, and functions. I remember how, during the very first coffee break, I learned so much about sustainable aluminum in 10 minutes that I would otherwise probably need a couple days to learn on my own. Though almost two years have passed since completion of the program, I still learn from my cohort and the alumni community every day; the HEC Paris network is exceptional
Three clear changes
“Now, I feel much more confident, strategically minded, methodological, and open to diverse perspectives.”
Overall, the HEC Paris EMBA program was a transformational journey. I believe I found what I was looking for: I didn’t just improve my hard skills in myriad disciplines, but I had a chance to step up in my soft skills, with three in particular:
The first one was self-awareness. The program is structured in a way that pushes participants to reflect on themselves, to get feedback from peers, and to understand their own motivations. It can be extremely uncomfortable. But in the end, the effort gives a massive return. I had a chance to reassess my values, the environment I was in, and the next steps I wanted to take in my career and in my personal life.
Self-organization is another huge area of transformation I experienced. It is hard work to juggle the program and to work at the same time. It makes time — a scarce resource — even scarcer. My free time, which was already limited before EMBA, completely disappeared during the program. But it made me learn how to make free time, to improve my prioritization skills, and to find time for family and friends even in the super packed agenda.
The third transformational aspect helped me to understand the way general managers approach difficult challenges. I learned to embrace uncertainty, rather than avoiding it or pushing it back. This skill was extremely useful when the global pandemic began in 2020. I knew that it was my job to get my team organized and lead it well. We quickly identified drivers we could influence and subsequently focused only on them. This allowed us to smooth out the effect of the pandemic and to grow value share in our key markets.
On to the future
I completed my EMBA journey in 2020. There are significant, deeply transformational changes I can see in myself as a professional and as a human being. Before the EMBA, uncertainty really stressed me out, and I tended to be chaotic and lacking a diversity of perspectives in my decision-making.
Now, I feel much more confident, strategically minded, methodological, and open to diverse perspectives.
More CEOs of Fortune Global 500 companies have graduated from HEC Paris than any other university in Europe. Nearly 4,000 graduates are currently CEOs, CFOs, or have founded their own companies. According to the Financial Times, the HEC Paris offers the best EMBA program in the world; click here to learn more.
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