Ole Rodland, a former IT consultant at Capgemini, is a graduate of France-based EMLYON Business School.
The Norwegian has used his MBA to transition to the business side of technology, and has landed a job at Accenture Strategy, the management consultancy, earlier this year in the Nordics.
When he wasn’t growing risky facial hair with his classmates for “Movember”, a charity foundation which encourages the growing of moustaches to raise money for men’s health during November, he was learning from his cohort. He says he values his fellow classmates and is inspired by their diversity and entrepreneurial flair.
By specialising in strategy on the MBA, the once-moustachioed graduate believes he is able to move back into the intersection of business and technology, and has one eye on Accenture’s digital consulting wing. But for now, he is applying for a spot on an internal M&A team.
Why did you decide to begin an MBA program?
I made my decision to do an MBA many years ago. I worked on the interface between IT and business, and over the years I grew an interest in my business colleagues and their ways of working. There were clearly two different mind-sets: the engineers in IT and the business graduates in general management.
I could identify with and understand the engineers, being one myself, but I felt at the time that I could not completely understand the mind-set of my business colleagues. I thought the MBA would be the perfect fit to fill this gap, and complete my skillset.
I wanted to move from larger IT projects to smaller strategy projects with a higher degree of business involvement. However, I had little experience and skills in strategy – another gap I thought the MBA could fill.
I had been thinking about moving back to Norway for a couple of years. Therefore the MBA was also an opportunity for me to take a step back, think about past and future, and set a new course.
What made France, and EMLYON, stand out?
I carefully considered several schools, mainly in Spain and France. It finally came down to EMLYON because of good feedback from people that I trust and personal considerations.
However, three characteristics made the MBA stand out for me [are]: the focus on entrepreneurship with a nine-month-long entrepreneurial leadership project; the limited size of the MBA cohort, which creates a tight bond among students and professors; [and] the reputation of the business school in France and the wide network the school offers.
What is it like to study at EMLYON?
The first two months are intense. Our cohort was a diverse group with 17 nationalities and even more professions. Their insights and experiences enriched the learning experience, through discussion and teamwork.
Even though it is hard work you also find time for fun. My year was memorable and I really enjoyed every class, project and day.
What was the highlight of your MBA?
I must underline the people – our cohort – as exceptional. The group had a great dynamic and the atmosphere was electric at times. It created a collaborative and supportive environment that really enhanced my learning experience.
I am proud to have been part of this cohort, and if I should mention a single event to illustrate this I would choose our “Movember calendar”. In October last year the cohort agreed to make a calendar with pictures of MBA students with moustaches. The calendar, which eventually sold worldwide, raised over €500 for charity.
What value do you place in your MBA now after graduating?
The core value of the MBA lies in the people I met and the extended network it provides. I also value what I have learned through the courses of the MBA, including both soft and hard skills. Combined, it constitutes a personal toolbox that I know will be useful throughout my professional and personal life.
How important was the MBA in securing a job at Accenture Strategy?
The MBA was a door opener for me. Accenture Strategy was launched only one year ago and operates within the intersection of business and technology.
I already had the technology background from my master in technology and my experience as an IT consultant. The MBA with a specialization in strategy added business to my resume, and made my profile fit.
Which skills from the MBA are you able to leverage in your consultancy role?
All of them. The MBA has given me a deeper understanding of the corporate world and a vocabulary to navigate and communicate effectively. Moreover, it has given me a set of references and a network of people that I can turn to.
As a strategy consultant, you must be able to solve all kinds of complex problems in various industries, and the MBA toolbox gives me a head start.
What are your career goals now?
In the short term, it is all about getting up to speed to be a great strategy consultant. I have my master in technology, my experience as an IT consultant and my MBA – but I have never worked in Norway before and I am a new hire at Accenture so there is still a lot to learn.
Mid-term, my goal is to develop an expertise as a strategy consultant. It is actually quite hard to decide which field to focus on, as there are so many exciting things happing in this digital era.
Last year Accenture also launched Accenture Digital, which is certainly one area where I want to develop expertise. I am [also] currently in the process of applying for an internal position within a global team focusing on M&A projects.
Long-term my goal is less clear, but I imagine myself still working within the intersection of business and technology. I wish to dedicate more time to sharing my knowledge and experience. This could potentially involve going back to engineering school or business school as a guest lecturer.
My fellow entrepreneurial friends from EMLYON inspire me with their start-up adventures and I sometimes wish I had the same courage as them. Maybe one day I will find this courage and start an adventure of my own.