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How My MBA Landed Me A Job In Lyon's Technology Scene

Irene's MBA took her from the sandy beaches of Costa Rica to an exciting world of tech—via some unexpected experiences


Tue Oct 8 2019

Irene Jimenez was always destined to be a business leader.

Growing up she saw first her grandfather then her father set up their own businesses. As role models, she admired their ability for building something from nothing, driven by their knack for business. 

Looking to shake up her career and explore new opportunities, Irene fixed her sights on an MBA. After all, MBA values seemed to be in her blood.

“I thought it was a great opportunity to get back in touch with my roots and think about creating something of my own in the future,” Irene remembers. 

Now working in the cutting edge of tech in Lyon, here's Irene's MBA career transformation.

A window from Central America into Europe


Irene’s pre-MBA career is not something many would trade up.

She was working as marketing and communications manager at Reserva Conchal, a luxury beach resort on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. 

White beaches and exotic wildlife were her office, and luxury brands like Veuve Clicquot and Johnnie Walker were many of her clients. 

Despite the setting, Irene’s mind was elsewhere. She had grown up, studied, and worked in Costa Rica all her life, and she was keen explore a new continent and way of life. 

“I wanted to create a window for myself into the European market,” she notes. 

Personal development, moreover, was on her mind. She knew that she needed to advance her own skills and know-how in order to advance her career where she wanted it to go. 

“I was growing as a professional, but I knew I had the potential to keep on developing. That’s when I made the choice to invest again in my education to explore something new.”

EMLYON's entrepreneurial DNA

EMLYON Business School in France was a standout choice for her, most of all because of the entrepreneurial instinct that was in her blood. 

The International MBA at EMLYON has a strong entrepreneurial theme running through it. 

Students take part in a seven-month entrepreneurial leadership project as part of the MBA, in which they work directly as consultants with a company on a problem that they want to address.

The school’s incubator, moreover, gives students access to a thriving hub of startups in Lyon, and an opportunity to get your own business off the ground. 

She didn’t know if she wanted to start her own business, or bring some of her own family experience of running a business—but the values of the school certainly appealed. 

Landing in "cold water"

The highlights of the MBA came in very unexpected places. 

Not long after she stepped off the plane and into EMLYON’s campus was she blown away by the diverse and high achieving backgrounds of her fellow classmates. This was exposed first in the four-day business game which kicked off the course. 

“Working in teams with colleagues I had just met, I saw different backgrounds and nationalities, high levels of competitiveness, and lots of uncertainty about what we were doing,” she laughs.

“It provided a slight idea of what was coming ahead!”

From the classroom to snowy Scandinavia, Irene also raves about the class trip to Aalto University in Finland. They learnt much from Finland’s innovative economy about how companies and universities are constantly reinventing themselves.

“We experienced ‘Sisu’, the Finnish concept of inner strength and how collaborative communities join together to create something new,” she remembers. 

Perhaps more memorable was the polar bear pitching challenge, where they had to pitch their own ideas which they had developed and prototyped while standing in a bucket of ice. 

“It pushed us to focus in a very uncomfortable situation!” she remembers. 

An unexpected MBA journey

It’s often difficult to know exactly where an MBA will take you. That’s why it’s often so hard to calculate something like return on investment. 

In Irene’s case, her journey has ticked off her two goals—resettling in Europe and advancing her career in a new direction.

She is now living in Lyon, currently working as a sales manager for a major unmanned aerial systems (UAS) company, a ground-to-air communications system for unpiloted drones. It’s an exciting role in a cutting edge industry—and definitely not something she could have predicted. 

“On the first day of class, we were told that we might end up on paths we had never imagined before. This has been my case,” she notes.

“But it’s given me the opportunity to go beyond what I thought I was planning for my professional path. Now I’m settling down in Lyon, full of energy, and with my arms wide open to embrace this new stage of my life!”

Student Reviews

emlyon business school




On Campus

Intense courses, helpful professors

I am an international student in my 3rd year and I love going to this school and do not regret chosing it for my BBA. The classes are helpful, professors are always there to help as well and we have a very understanding administration.




On Campus

Leadership in an amazing city

I decided to do my exchange in Emlyon because I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, and I found a space with very capable People.. participatory, empathetic and full of leadership. I will never forget Lyon, apart from giving me an unforgettable experience, he gave me great friends




On Campus

A lot of opportunities professionally and socially. A unique program in France.

You can choose your courses and do your internship, exchange whenever you want. It's flexible and adapted to the needs of each student. A great program and a great city! Professionally, it opens a lot of doors for you to find internships or jobs in France or abroad thanks to the network and career events.




MSc in Digital Marketing

Combining both worlds into one, this course gave me all the on-demand technical skills in data science while maintaining a business-oriented approach. Thanks to the strong academic profile of this university I was able to secure an internship and full-time job at Amazon.




Top Business School fostering innovative entrepreneurs

EMLyon is one of the best business schools. The campuses, associations and courses offered provide the students with the best options to build the future they have chosen. The various opportunities to study and work abroad also offer a deeper understanding of the world, not only economy-wise but social, which helps the student become as well a better individual and not only a pre-formated business school student.




Emlyon campus in Paris

It has a great international community and you have access to many international tools, courses and professors. I had many networking events and workshops for students. Campus and some details of the program could have been improved or need to be bigger in order to have a better student life.




On Campus


Overall good content and good activities. Lack of administration but still ok. Good flexibility and liberty offered to the students. Finally, the amount of internship is also a good way to improve qualifications.




Good Reputation and International Business School

The course was not well adapted but it was up to the mark. The professors are very well experienced and their experience comes in handy while working on assignments. The facilities on the campus are top class. Truly professional. I really like spending time in the learning hub and using all the available resources. Lyon is an amazing city. You will never get bored.