After studying a variety of business areas at undergraduate and master’s level, Pierre worked in the cosmetics industry, and as a key account manager at Canon in France before taking his career to the international stage.
He moved to New York, speaking little English and without a visa. In only 10 days he managed to secure a role at Robin Ruth, a souvenir and fashion products retailer. Concurrently, he worked freelance as a business development consultant with companies across several sectors including high-end shoe brand Botticelli, before moving back to France to study for an MBA.
Since graduating from EMLYON earlier this year, Pierre has joined business development company Altios International and has moved to London, tasked with setting up a new subsidiary company.
Why did you decide to study for an MBA at that stage in your career?
I wanted to accelerate my career. I felt like to get where I wanted to be would take me about 15 years. With an MBA, it would take me a maximum of five.
I have always been fascinated by entrepreneurship and the process of building something from nothing and I wanted to add skills on top of my entrepreneurial mind-set.
What was the hardest thing about the MBA application process?
The GMAT! It’s very hard. You feel stupid because you have to start from the beginning and re-learn all the math you learnt in high school
After that, the interview with the director was quite scary! He asked me where I saw myself in ten years’ time. It’s a basic question but it’s hard to know how to say the right thing. I answered with a joke, and it worked!
Why did you choose to study at EMLYON in particular?
It’s a very international school with a good entrepreneurship concentration and its fees are reasonable. Lyon is my city, so going to EMLYON was also a good way to stay close to my family and friends.
Who was the most interesting person you met?
Joaquín Espallargas – an executive professor at EMLYON and IE Business School and co-founder and CEO of RenEur, a private equity firm focused on renewable energies – who gave a short seminar on international strategy.
This guy was impressive! He came into the room without a book, with nothing, and it looked like he hasn’t prepared anything. But when he talked you listened. You didn’t look at your cellphone or say anything, you just sat and listened. He knew how to make a class come to life.
We only had him for three days, but they were three very interesting days!
How have you profited from your experience studying for an MBA?
An MBA teaches you how to be flexible, how to think differently and how to adapt to changing events.
It taught me that entrepreneurship is not just a question of ideas but a question of structure, techniques, proof of concept and doing your homework.
What are the big cultural differences between working in Europe and the US?
I often say that London is the perfect mix between Paris and New York. In London people are more pragmatic.
In France everything is very hierarchical. There are processes and a kind of code to respect. In the US, the focus is on business first and foremost. The US is very free minded and you can create something new very easily.
What are your plans for the future?
At the moment I’ve just started setting up Altios in the UK. I’ve started hiring people and opening offices while managing our partnerships.
I want my subsidiary to grow and be profitable. My mission every day is to help entrepreneurs and help foreign companies expand into the UK.