Alumni interview: My MBA experience studying in France

Alumni interview: My MBA experience studying in France

By H. Young

Updated April 1, 2024 Updated April 01

Sponsored by ESSEC Business School

Vivienne Ma studied an MBA at ESSEC Business School in France, having been attracted to the school’s academic reputation and proximity to global technology employers.

We spoke with Vivienne to learn more about her MBA journey and how the programme at ESSEC complemented the skills she had developed as a mechanical engineer to help her progress towards achieving her career goals.

What were your motivations for studying an MBA?

My motivations for pursuing an MBA stemmed from a desire to enhance my management skills and broaden my understanding of business operations. Coming from a technical background in mechanical engineering, I sought a comprehensive education that would enable me to transition into leadership roles and navigate the complexities of the business world effectively.

What impact did you expect the MBA would have on progressing towards your long-term career objectives?

I anticipated that an MBA would provide me with a holistic perspective on business strategy, leadership and decision-making. I aimed to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to excel in managerial positions, particularly within the rapidly evolving landscape of the technology industry. 

Additionally, I saw the MBA as a platform to expand my professional network and open doors to new opportunities.

What qualities were you looking for in an MBA programme, and what attracted you to studying at ESSEC?

I was seeking a business school with a strong reputation for academic excellence, a global perspective, and a robust network of industry connections. ESSEC stood out for its top-ranking status, particularly in Europe, and its focus on technology. 
The school's location, being a hub for tech companies, aligned well with my aspirations to work in the new tech industry. The diverse and dynamic learning environment at ESSEC was also appealing.

How did your background in mechanical engineering inform your approach to the MBA?

My background in mechanical engineering instilled in me a strong analytical and problem-solving mindset. During the MBA, I leveraged these skills to approach business challenges systematically. 

My engineering background also provided a unique perspective in discussions and group projects, fostering a multidisciplinary approach to problem-solving.

What were the greatest surprises from your MBA experience, compared to your expectations?

The most significant surprise was the depth of personal and professional growth I experienced. The MBA not only expanded my business knowledge but also honed my leadership and communication skills. 

I was pleasantly surprised by the diverse perspectives of my classmates, contributing to a rich and collaborative learning environment.

What were the most valuable insights or connections you made during your time at ESSEC?

The most valuable insights came from interactions with a diverse group of classmates, professors and industry professionals. These connections provided me with a global perspective on business challenges and opportunities. 

Collaborative projects and networking events facilitated meaningful relationships that continue to influence my career positively.

Can you give any examples of how you’ve been able to apply learnings from the MBA to your current job role at Capgemini?

The MBA equipped me with advanced strategic thinking and negotiation skills, which have been invaluable in my role at Capgemini. I've successfully applied frameworks learned during the MBA to analyse market trends, identify business opportunities, and develop effective sales strategies. 

The programme's emphasis on real-world case studies enhanced my ability to navigate complex client requirements and propose innovative solutions.

Looking back, what advice would you give to yourself at the start of the MBA programme?

I would advise my past self to embrace every opportunity for networking and collaboration. Building strong relationships with peers, professors, and industry professionals is as crucial as the academic curriculum. 

Additionally, I would encourage myself to remain open-minded, exploring diverse areas of business to gain a well-rounded perspective that goes beyond initial career goals.

How can other students make the most of their time as an MBA student at ESSEC?

Other students can make the most of their time at ESSEC by actively participating in class discussions, engaging with diverse peers, and taking advantage of networking events. Exploring extracurricular activities, internships, and industry seminars can provide valuable practical insights. 

Being proactive in seeking mentorship from professors and industry experts can further enrich the learning experience and open doors to future opportunities.

This article was originally published in March 2024 . It was last updated in April 2024

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