When Alexandre Kangah founded his own consulting venture, he knew it would be an exciting challenge.
Originally from the Ivory Coast, Alexandre began his career as an engineer, specializing in computer science. The search for a new challenge brought him to Paris, where he studied a Master’s in Business, Management, and Information Systems.
This sparked his interest in IT consulting, and eventually a move to Canada, where he took up a role with a large technology consulting company. Although he enjoyed the work, Alexandre was soon ready to stretch his capabilities.
Eventually, he struck out on his own, founding Xtrategy—an IT and management consulting firm.
To help Xtrategy grow and diversify, he decided to attend business school. An Executive MBA (EMBA) program seemed like the perfect solution, since it would allow him to carry on working with his company full-time as he learned.
“An EMBA would give me the opportunity to develop more business skills, and help me open my consulting firm to new markets,” he says.
After considering programs in the US and Canada, Alexandre chose the EMBA at Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business.
Now, he is translating the hands-on learning the program has offered to his business.
Building new connections
Alexandre was initially drawn to John Molson's diverse and open student community.
“I got the sense that the EMBA program was very open to diversity, and international students,” he explains.
In the school’s average EMBA class, industry backgrounds range from fashion to finance, and international students are common.
Along with the diverse connections he made in class, Alexandre was able to leverage the international trips on offer to find new clients and forge new partnerships.
In his first year of the program, he and members of his cohort traveled to Asia, visiting Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam, on the international business trip.
“It was a great opportunity to develop business connections in Asia, both with business owners, and people working with large companies,” he recalls.
“During the trip, I developed a lot of relationships with people who I continue to work with.”
A holistic approach to business education
For Alexandre, another EMBA highlight has been working with a dedicated executive coach, and taking advantage of private health and fitness consultations.
“We had support in handling areas of our private lives, as well as our professional ones,” Alexandre notes. “Our coaches also helped us to handle stress, so we could make the most of the EMBA."
This holistic approach to business education is helping Alexandre practice self-care while steering his business through today’s challenges.
Getting real-world experience
Accessing practical learning experiences has also been extremely valuable for Alexandre.
At the end of his first semester, for instance, he got to craft a solution to a business issue presented by a local Canadian company. He and his teams’ recommendations were then presented to a panel of the company’s managers, and John Molson faculty.
“We studied a lot of real-life cases through the EMBA, and heard from speakers who were CEOs or executives,” he adds.
The professors at John Molson have been equally valuable when it comes to imparting real-world business lessons, Alexandre reflects.
“The professors I encountered have a lot of past experience with many different companies,” he says.
Getting ready for the future
The ability to adapt is one of the most important skills that Alexandre has developed at John Molson, he believes.
As coronavirus continues to disrupt business and spur innovation, he feels the EMBA has equipped him with the tools he needs to help his firm work flexibly, and survive.
Like many companies around the world, Xtrategy has experienced a temporary slow down due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
However, with the toolkit Alexandre has developed at John Molson, he has been able to quickly adapt, moving operations online in the space of just a few weeks.
“Even in this climate, because I’ve been applying all the lessons I learned in the EMBA, I’ve been able to cope,” he explains.
Courses like Financial Decisions Under Uncertainty and Creativity and Innovation help students like Alexandre to adapt quickly in challenging times.
“Seizing this situation as an opportunity to create something new, and bring value, is something I learned on the EMBA,” he reflects.
Despite the current disruption, Alexandre is confident that Xtrategy will continue to grow in the coming years. He plans to achieve organic growth, by identifying new business opportunities, and carrying out more work online.
“I now see myself as someone who knows how business works very deeply,” he says. “I see every change as a new opportunity now.”
Monday 13th July 2020, 03.17 (UTC)
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