Damien Duval graduated from the IE Business School MBA in 2010. He is currently based in Paris and is one of the managing team of the school's active France Club currently headed by Joseph Freiha and Bastien Seignolles.
Damien has over ten years of experience of working in information technology and services. When he completed his MBA he joined Safran Group, an aerospace, defense and security Company, as business auditor.
IE Business School's France Club has a seriously impressive profile, with approximately 250 members spread across France, Spain and neighbouring countries. More than half of them currently hold senior positions while a quarter are in middle management positions. We talked to Damien to learn how he helps IE Business School grads make the most of their networking opportunities.
Tell us about the IE France club!
IE France Club represents IE alumni in France, or who have a particular interest in France, as well as French-speaking students and alumni in Madrid.
The Club has around 250 active members.
Our three main objectives are to keep the network alive and active by organizing a monthly event in Paris; to promote IE Business School within the French community through events open to people outside of our network such as conferences and master classes; and to promote France in Madrid and on campus.
We are organized in two chapters, one in Paris, mainly composed of alumni, and another in Madrid mainly composed of students on campus.
What are some of your regular activities?
Monthly networking events, including gatherings held in some prestigious locations in Paris. We also organize regular academic or business conferences, either with professors from IE Business School who visit us, or with our expert alumni.
For example, we organized a conference on digital strategy, led by an IE Business School grad who is on the board of a leading French digital company. The conference also featured two other specialists in the field. We've organized conferences on a wide range of topics such as economics, finance, entrepreneurship, and soft skills with IE professors.
The IE France Club Xmas Dinner
Who are your members?
Our members are very diverse with many industries represented. We have people from telecoms, financial services, energy, FMCG, automotive, consulting, and many more.
More than 55% of our members currently hold senior positions like CEO, MD, and VP, and 25% are in middle management positions. In terms of geography, Paris holds first place with 26% of our members, followed by Madrid with 25%. The rest are mainly spread around France, regions of Spain and other neighbouring countries.
Some members of the IE France Club in Paris
What are some of your upcoming activities?
Many members of the Club are planning to attend the IE General Alumni Forum held in Madrid this September. There will be several prestigious speakers such as former governor of the European Central Bank, Jean Claude Trichet. We are also planning a big conference in Paris in November. Between those two, there will be a workshop on job hunting with HR Directors and head-hunters.
Why did you choose to do your MBA at IE?
There were five major reasons that influenced my decision:
- Top ranking: IE Business School has been ranked in the top 10 global MBAs for the last five years;
- Entrepreneurial spirit: The school has been created by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs and its Venture Lab is a fantastic opportunity for students to test their business ideas!
- Dynamism: The school is willing to innovate and to take risks, giving a very dynamic experience to the students
- Corporate Social responsibility: Even before the 2008 crisis, IE was very keen on CSR and respectful behaviour. This is not just a motto, rather it is revealed to be the practical philosophy of the school. This philosophy followed me during my MBA through different aspects and events. Ethics was included in the spirit of the courses, and we had conferences and projects in Renewable Energies and in CSR projects.
- Finally, IE granted me a fantastic fellowship to work with David Bach and other top level professors as a non-market strategy collaborator, during my MBA.
How has the MBA contributed to your career growth?
Thanks to the MBA I was able to shift from pure engineering positions to more managerial ones. I've been promoted to a Business Auditor position in the same company I worked at pre-MBA, giving me the chance to use what I learned during the MBA about finance, marketing, strategy, and so on every day. This is giving my career a new perspective. I Love it!
Do you think there are still exciting job prospects for MBAs who want to work in France?
For sure! France, despite the current economic crisis is a dynamic market and companies are continuously looking for talent.
What's the best way to make the most of networking opportunities as an MBA?
On campus, it helps to participate in as many extra-curricular events as possible. Keep up with the momentum and open your mind to all opportunities to learn from your fellow students as well as from the academic courses.
As an alumnus, participating in club activities as a guest or as an active member is essential to keeping your network alive and having the opportunity to meet very interesting people.