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How This EMLYON MBA Used B-School To Join The Disruptive Sharing Economy

Mihran Arslanian sees a bright future for innovators like Uber and Airbnb

By  Seb Murray

Tue Jan 31 2017

Mihran Arslanian finished the EMLYON Business School MBA in 2016.

During the program, he joined French sharing economy start-up Hub-Grade, as part of EMLYON’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Program.

Over the course of nine months, students must complete a dynamic consulting project for an organization related to their personal career objectives or interests.

Hub-Grade is a digital platform for renting workspaces. Hub-Grade links companies with underused workspaces and companies looking to lease them for a flexible period of time.

Mihran, from Lebanon, advised the start-up on business development, operations and strategy.

He is looking for a multicultural, dynamic and challenging setting to work in — and he thinks the MBA will help him get one.

Why did you want to get an MBA?

I had two main reasons to pursue an MBA. Professionally, I wished to pivot out of my previous role and move into a position of greater decision-making. To achieve this, I needed to hone my negotiation skills, and gain experience in setting operational strategies, and analyzing data. On a more personal note, I had promised myself that I would pursue education to the highest possible level. In my case and field, it was the MBA.

Tell us what makes EMLYON unique.

There are five things that make EMLYON unique. First, it’s in Lyon (or very close to it). From the Roman ruins to the landmarks and from the nightlife to the food, the city is breathtaking. There is plenty on offer for locals and newcomers. Second, the Entrepreneurial Leadership Program. Having the opportunity to apply classroom theories in a real-world context is invaluable. Third, the entrepreneurial spirit. There is creative energy all around; it’s embedded in the school’s DNA. Fourth, the faculty. There are brilliant, knowledgeable lecturers with a lot of wisdom to offer. And finally, the diversity of the students. In my MBA cohort, we were 43 students from 23 different nationalities. The wealth of ideas and differing perspectives provided an incredibly enrichening experience.

What have you done since finishing the MBA?

I kept busy with a few things. I traveled around Continental Europe a bit with my wonderful girlfriend. Then came the time to say goodbye to Lyon and start a new chapter by moving to Paris. Following the relocation, I started job hunting, which was interrupted by a return home to Lebanon for a long overdue visit. Now that I’m back in France, the search for employment continues.

What’s your fondest memory of your time at EMLYON?

While attending the luxury consumer behavior class, we once decided to replace our lunch break with a picnic on the campus roof garden. Each of the students had brought something to snack on, the sun was up, and the sky was blue. A lot of conversations were had, laughs were heard, pictures were taken, food was eaten, and warm memories forged. And then it was back to class to continue our lecture. It was a truly memorable day.

What are the sharing economy’s long-term prospects, in your opinion?

The sharing economy has disrupted established businesses and drastically altered the economic landscape. This much is undeniable. And while it is seeing exponential growth, I wonder whether it is slowly carving out a niche for itself to operate in, or whether it represents the future.

Perhaps one of the major advantages that companies such as Airbnb and Uber have over their competitors is the lack of regulation. At least that used to be the case. More governments around the globe are looking into these newly emerged players, and have started regulating their activities. The example of Airbnb in Berlin comes to mind; the authorities are restricting rentals through the online marketplace to keep housing affordable to the local people. Uber has its own legal complications to deal with as well.

Once public authorities have regulated sharing economy companies, part of their competitive advantage will disappear. And while they will not fade (the sharing economy is here to stay), I find it hard to believe that they will overtake more traditional means of conducting business.

What’s was the best thing about your job at Hub-Grade?

What I found very interesting was the fast-paced environment of a digital start-up. I found myself working in a dynamic, technological setting that I’ve always aspired to work in. Being able to use newly-acquired knowledge to solve real problems was quite eye-opening.

However, the absolute best thing was the people I worked with, who were intelligent, hard-working and resolute. I have nothing but respect for them.