EMLYON MBA Helps French Engineer Land Top Consulting Project
Olivier Petit is hoping the EMLYON MBA will help him move out of engineering and into strategy
French engineer Olivier Petit knew he was on track for a senior management position in a big French firm, but with his sights on a strategic role and a move to Asia, he decided to do an MBA at EMLYON.
Olivier, 29, has just completed his MBA at EMLYON. He was born in Chartres, France and has studied and worked in Paris for the last ten years.
Olivier studied engineering at Esme Sudria Engineering School. During his final two years he combined studying with training at construction firm Eiffage.
He worked as both a project manager and a business developer. Eiffage made sure that his projects would fit around school work and Olivier says that it was an “intense but well-organised two years” and that as a consequence he was fully operational at the end of his first year at Eiffage. With the support of a tutor he ran some projects at the castle of Versailles and for the French administration renovating public schools.
All his hard work paid off and Olivier was hired six months before the end of his degree. “I was a good thing for my company. Instead of hiring a ‘fresh’ graduate, they were hiring a person with experience, who knew the company culture”.
In 2008 Olivier moved on to private equity firm PAI Partners in search of bigger and more difficult projects. His first assignment was the construction of a proton therapy centre in Orsay, near Paris. The team had a budget of €2million and were in charge of building the electrical, automation and IT networks. Olivier realised he was gaining international exposure as his clients were Belgian and American.
The search for bigger and better continued and Olivier moved on to work for the non-profit optics and engineering organisation Spie where he had even more responsibility, liaising with the commercial director, budgeting projects, leading projects and ensuring the respect of safety processes.
Olivier decided that an MBA was the best career choice if he wanted to get a position of even greater responsibility. As an engineer he knew that he would become the manager of a department and then the manager of a subsidiary but, “These were not my dream positions. I wanted to be more involved in the strategy of the company…I wanted also to increase my international exposure by being a part of a class with different nationalities”. The MBA would provide a solid base in management and finance and he could “ameliorate [his] leadership abilities”.
Olivier looked at MBA courses at Cass, HEC Paris and Edhec but when he heard from EMLYON he decided not to continue his applications elsewhere such was his preference for EMLYON. Olivier had met a representative from EMLYON at a business school fair in Paris in 2009 who had advised him to apply for an MBA.
The major plus points of EMLYON for Olivier were, firstly, that it was a new city to him, close to the mountains and just over the Alps to Switzerland and Italy. It is also well-respected (the Economist ranks the business school third in France, 10th in Europe and 37th in the world).
Olivier was well aware that as he wanted to continue working in France it was an important choice to attend a French business school. “The French system is elitist and values people who have graduated from the top French business schools far more”.
The size of the MBA class, small at just 31, allows for maximum interaction and participation, the faculty are well-renowned “one of our teachers is now a top publisher and researcher in the strategic field”, and you gain international exposure from the multitude of nationalities represented in the group. EMLYON is also renowned for its strong alumni network and strong career placement department.
EMLYON’s emphasis on entrepreneurship with its business plan competitions also differentiated the school. Entrepreneurial Leadership Project (ELP) is a compulsory consulting project that Olivier undertook from December until this month. He was fortunate to undertake his project with AMARIS, a top consultancy firm specialising in management, information systems and engineering.
EMLYON also has a multitude of possible business schools that one could go on exchange with: Olivier chose Cheung Kong business school in Beijing. Whilst at Cheung Kong he took courses in Mandarin, advanced investment and customer relationship management.
“I am completing my degree by gaining insights into China, which is personally and professionally important regarding the power that China will have in the coming years”. Olivier found adapting to Beijing difficult at first as language proved to be a big obstacle, “but now I am completely adapted and I feel at home”.
So what have been the highlights of the MBA? Olivier reckons the small class size means all the courses are lively and everyone interacts with the speakers and professors.
The integration seminar performing sketch theatre was a good icebreaker and a field-trip to Finland was wide-ranging with a visit to Nokia but also the chance to ski and try out the local cuisine.
But perhaps the most career enhancing aspect was the final presentation for the consulting project, “the client was so pleased by our intermediary presentation that he invited the board of directors for the final presentation. It was really like being an employee of the company. And they followed our recommendations in order to improve the company operations and strategy”.
Next year Olivier hopes to work in a strategy role either in-house at a firm or to join a consulting company to build up his experience. “I want to take a job where I can be involved in strategy recommendations and change. Also I would like to leverage my MBA by being involved at the same time in implementing mergers and acquisitions”.
He hopes that within five years he can “be an important member of a strategic division of a company. And within 10 years I want to manage a company or create my own one”.
He sees himself living in Asia and he will leave France within three to five years, as he loves Asian culture. Travelling in Asia and doing an exchange in China, has brought him to the conclusion that “I have to continue to open my life by living abroad”.
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