Consultant Who Started Career Out Of A Rucksack On EMLYON Experience
Bruce Cooper: the EMLYON MBA has made him more credible in France
Bruce Cooper has just completed his MBA at France’s EMLYON. We talked to him about his early days as a translator in Cold War Berlin, doing an MBSA in France and working as a corporate consultant.
Bruce, 47, is originally from Suffolk but now lives in the South of France with his family. His career started when he began working for the Allied Forces as a translator during the fall of the Berlin Wall, “I was travelling with a rucksack, I thought I would stay a week and stayed eight years! I suppose it was destiny. Berlin was crazy, that’s why I stayed there! The night the wall was broken no one had expected it to happen and everyone thought it would go up again. Berlin changed very quickly after the fall of the Berlin wall”. Ultimately Bruce and his wife decided Berlin was not the best place to raise children so moved to the Mediterranean.
Bruce began working as a technical translator in France in 1993 and worked for French firms as an English coach. This evolved to assisting foreign companies when they were in France with projects. “I was very often working on projects, coordinating with them and dealing with the legal side of things, negotiating a lot, especially for the steel industry. I worked with Siemens, who did several projects in France and I have worked with Turkish companies within the steel industry”.
After working as a freelance languages and localisation consultant for seven years Bruce decided that an MBA was the “next logical step”. The 2008 financial crisis had hit the steel industry hard and whilst he was working on one project, the next job in the pipeline kept getting postponed, “which is a risk when you’re in consultancy”. He also wanted a change, to “be part of a company with objectives and an international perspective”.
The decision to study for an MBA “happened pretty much overnight”. EMLYON was the only business school Bruce looked at. “EMLYON is only two hours from my home, so as a practical reason I could come home every weekend to my family.
“EMLYON also has a great reputation within France, which has a very elitist system. My MBA makes me a lot more credible in France”.
The MBA was his opportunity to acquire new skills, for example budget management (“all I managed in the past was my own income”, he says), marketing (“I never had a need for prospecting, I was lucky as the work practically came to me all the time”), and international strategy. EMLYON not only provided him with business know-how but “a network of very good professors”.
EMLYON has partner banks and to pay for the MBA Bruce headed straight to a partner bank to get a student loan, which was “very easy as I live in France. I thought I would have problems with the conditions for the loan, but in fact the conditions are that you have a place on the MBA. I think this speaks volumes about the school and the MBA, it’s kind of guaranteed, they seem to know you’ll be able to pay back the loan without any difficulty.”
When asked whether he believed he got a good return for his money, Bruce said he believed he had. He wanted a break after the MBA finished and was going to start looking for jobs this autumn. “For the money you pay, you get many things: the reputation of the school which is an added value in France. But most importantly the quality of the teaching and the careers service.”
His 31 classmates represented 13 nationalities and, at 47, Bruce says he was the oldest in his class that had an average age of roughly 31. Most students come from the engineering industry, and for them the MBA is “the perfect cap to their career” as companies often look for employees who have specialised in a certain field, but also have an overview of how to run a company.
Bruce’s only regret about the MBA is that he didn’t do it 15 years earlier, he believes it brings together the experience you have with the qualifications you have and fully prepares you for an international career.
He also recommends that you make the absolute most of the year. He never turned down an opportunity. For instance, he went to Texas for a business competition and did a six-week exchange at FIA Business School in Sao Paolo, Brazil.
“I am yet to see how it will pay off with regards to finding work but I would totally recommend it. It was a great year I had very high expectations that were well beyond met!” he says.
He also praises the administration office at EMLYON: “We made suggestions and they were open to improvements, changes and criticisms. The MBA was a revelation, I seriously recommend it!"
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