When he graduated his bachelor’s in finance, Leonardo Deschaseaux never dreamed he’d land a Microsoft internship. It felt like one of those impossible tech jobs, Leonardo remembers, somewhere only for the best of the best.
But during the European Triple Degree Master’s in Management program at emlyon Business School in France, Leonardo found his way into the marketing department at the world’s largest company. He’s now working as an alliance manager at Zelros, an artificial intelligence insurance technology company.
For those aspiring for a career in tech, it’s an admirable career leap. Here’s how he pulled it off.
Looking for an international experience
Half Spanish, half French, Leonardo always had a desire to explore and understand new cultures. He was lucky to spend a year studying in the US during his bachelor’s, and when it came to his master’s in management it was important for him to continue this international experience.
emlyon stood out to him for two reasons. Firstly, he had the sense that it was an international institution, that would give him a diverse, global perspective.
“It’s not a French school filled with just French students,” he remarks.
But even more than that, Leonardo was drawn towards the European Triple Degree Master's in Management program. Across the two year program, students study at emlyon in France, at Lancaster University in the UK, and at Ludwig-Maximillians University (LMU) in Germany.
“You’re getting different perspectives, from different professors, from the three different universities. We could explore a lot more than if we had just one set of professors from one university,” Leonardo remembers.
At each institution, he discovered a different way of learning, as well as a brand new, internationally diverse class cohort. The effect this had on his personal skills, he remembers, was significant. From class group work, to interacting with students from around the world, he learned a great deal about how to manage and work with people.
“You learn a lot from everyone, the others get to learn from you, and you make some great connections and experiences,” Leonardo remembers.
How he landed a Microsoft internship
When he started his master’s, Leonardo was very much at the beginning of his career. His work experience was limited, and he was fresh off his bachelor’s degree.
While the academic aspect was important, he also craved work experience that was going to enhance his understanding of how business works and boost his profile. He had a rigorous introduction to the fundamentals of business during his time at emlyon, including courses in operations management and organizational behaviour. But it was the six month internship during his master’s that really prepared for the world of work.
Leonardo was increasingly drawn towards a tech career, and a chance to intern at Microsoft seemed like the perfect step into the industry. Despite his fears about how difficult it would be to land an internship there, Leonardo was accepted to work in their marketing partnerships department for the Azure Cloud service. Here, he helped partners strategize their own business solutions using the Azure technology, as well working on sales strategies for new partners.
He notes that Microsoft aren’t just looking for the highest candidates from leading business schools; in fact, it’s quite simple what they’re looking for.
“They’re much more focused on the person—you have to show that you’re willing to work, to do something great, to be motivated, and to have the social skills for that environment,” Leonardo notes.
From Microsoft to insurtech
Leonardo actually first interacted with his current employer, Zelros, during his Microsoft internship. Zelros was a partner company, and since they were based in France, he had close interactions with them.
Zelros provides insurance solutions for customers using artificial intelligence technology. Leonardo is working at a cutting edge area of insurtech (insurance technology) that requires a strong understanding of the tech landscape, something he wouldn’t have got without his master’s and his internship.
From AI and machine learning, to blockchain—which Leonardo wrote his dissertation on—courses at emlyon gave him a good understanding of digitalization, and how it is changing the way business is done. There’s no doubt whether he’d be in his current role without this foundational knowledge.
His two main pieces of advice to anyone else embarking on the master’s?
“Work as hard as possible, but make the most of your experience.”