Entrepreneurship runs in Cyril Simon’s blood. So it should come as no surprise that he chose to study for an MBA at MIP Politecnico di Milano, one of Italy’s top business schools.
Specializing in entrepreneurship and innovation — one of various concentrations offered by the Milan-based school — gave him the opportunity to learn from established business founders, and develop a network of potential investors.
But Cyril has not limited his options. He currently works at Intercos, a leading European cosmetics brand, in a corporate finance role. A medium-sized venture, Intercos allows him to impact a variety of functions. Being based in Milan, a cultural hub home to countless luxury brands, has also been of benefit for the Indian-born graduate.
What aspect of your job gets you out of bed in the morning?
The probability of doing something new. This has been a motivation since I joined Intercos and is characteristic of all small- and-medium sized companies in Italy.
I have never felt that I am a part of a big corporate process, but rather someone who has been lucky enough to get his hands dirty with many functions. I have had the opportunity to do things varying from sales target setting exercises, financial planning, and performance reporting and measurement.
Most importantly, I constantly meet people with a true entrepreneurial spirit, and who want to drive innovation.
What is Milan like as a hub for cosmetics/luxury companies?
Milan is truly fertile ground for luxury brands. It is one of the fashion capitals of the world, making it a great shopping hub as well. Also, most of the luxury or premium brands have tremendous sales in Milan. Various other factors like Milan’s central location, international diversity, and fashion events also contribute to making Milan a great hub for luxury companies.
How did you make the most of networking opportunities during and after your MBA?
The network was a primary reason for choosing the program. My classroom had candidates from over 20 different nations. This is now a globally dispersed network.
I attend alumni events as well, giving me access to MIP’s global network. I also happen to be one of MIP’s ambassadors for my home country, India.
What are your five key takeaways from the Entrepreneurship & Innovation specialization?
The prime takeaways are the connections and acquaintances of venture capitalists/private equity investors, and fellow entrepreneurs.
Secondly, I got to learn about entrepreneurship and innovation from the perspective of people who have already accomplished feats in these areas.
Thirdly, we are now able to anticipate potential problems entrepreneurs typically face on their path to excellence.
Finally, the importance of innovating business models, and how important it is to change. We also got exclusive material from business cases on innovation and small, successful businesses, which I could not have got hold of otherwise.
What value has an MBA added to your career?
The MBA at MIP has made me a Jack of many trades, and gave me the option to master some of them. This is the essence of the MBA; to taste all aspects of business administration, and eventually to choose something you are good at, or are passionate about.
I have an engineering background, but I had the privilege of choosing a career in finance or marketing post-MBA.
And even though I work in finance, I know how to think from other functions’ point of view, and this lets you easily adapt — you do not have “blinders” on.
Where do you see your career in ten years’ time?
I hail from an entrepreneurial family, and my greatest ambition is to use my entrepreneurial drive to do something new and innovative, while keeping my learning curve steep and challenging myself.
I have a professional bucket list. Apart from pursuing my entrepreneurial ambitions, I want to plan and execute an innovative business model, manage an interesting M&A deal and, finally, design and establish a highly advanced corporate financial reporting system.