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Emphasis on General Management Curriculum



Clément Pimor, admitted to Harvard

by Brian Henry, PhD (Trinity College, Dublin)

For this high-flying MBA candidate, the road to riches is NOT what he had in mind when he decided to apply for the Harvard two-year MBA program. Parisian Clément Pimor, whose last job was assisting the Chief of Staff in defining the outgoing French Prime Minister’s communication strategy, wanted to acquire the necessary business skills to become an entrepreneur.



Could you start by telling us a little about yourself?

I guess my background might seem a bit unusual for an MBA candidate applying to a top business school. From 1998 to 2004, I attended the Ecole Normale Supérieure – the school of Jean-Paul Sartre, Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida. It is a research-oriented school in which most students pursue a PhD and eventually become university professors. I majored in philosophy, passed the aggregation and engaged in an academic career. I specialized in philosophy of science – I even obtained a Master degree in cognitive sciences – and I started teaching philosophy to undergrad students as a lecturer at La Sorbonne.

Tell us about your experience working for the Prime Minister’s office...

I have always been extremely interested in politics and political philosophy, but I had never really considered taking a job in that field. My main interest was research and academia. So, when I was asked to join Dominique de Villepin’s staff, it was quite a surprise for me. I did not hesitate very long before accepting the position. I worked for former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin from 2005 to the most recent election. It was a great opportunity to act in the forefront and to make a difference. And it was also the chance to work for a man of great convictions and tireless energy. I first discovered Dominique de Villepin when he delivered his famous 2003 speech at the United Nations Security Council, and I have deeply admired him since then.

Despite my enthusiasm and good will, my first weeks at the Prime Minister’s Office were really tough. I had not studied political science and had never worked in a government department, and my knowledge of the legislative process was somewhat limited. But I spent extra time studying constitutional and administrative law and learned from my new colleagues. Soon enough, my efforts paid off and a few months after starting, the chief of staff gave me my first important speech to write.

Why did you choose to do an MBA at this point in your career?

I want to design a career that combines my interest in science and research with my taste for entrepreneurship. My long-term goal is to start up a biotech company. To achieve this goal, I need first to acquire the business tools I currently lack. I believe Harvard is the best place for me to do so. Harvard’s general management focus will give me a broad perspective on all aspects of running a business. It will teach me how to handle the countless issues managers must face in a world of fierce commercial competition. I also feel that the case-study method is the best way for me to acquire these skills. I can study the theory in textbooks by myself, but I cannot discover alone the many realities of the business world.

What was the hardest part of the application process?

Writing the essays was difficult. In one question, for example, I was asked to discuss an experience that highlighted my strengths and weaknesses as a leader. I decided to talk about a particularly gifted student of mine whose behavior in class was preventing me from seeing the larger picture. All the other students were feeling left behind. In turning that situation around, I realized that the role of a leader is about developing everyone’s potential to the fullest and setting the right dynamics for the group as a whole. Another difficult element in the application process was the interview, but for that part of the application, I relied on the help of MBA application professionals. 

What advice would you give to other MBA applicants?

I would urge them to focus on the essays and not to worry about topping up the GMAT scores. Of course you need to have a good score, but 10 or 20 points will not make that much of a difference. It is the essays that count; this is where you can really give a sense of who you are as a person and why you want to pursue an MBA. The time you spend with your MBA coach discussing what your values are and what you want to do with your life is time well spent. Also, if you are married as I am, be sure to involve your partner in the process. My wife (she recently gave birth to a wonderful baby boy) was very enthusiastic and is now in touch with other MBA partners at Harvard.
 

Perfect Fit for HR Professional in Need of Top Business Skills



Laurent Gasse, admitted to ESSEC-Mannheim Executive MBA

by Brian Henry, PhD (Trinity College, Dublin)

With a PhD in Law, Laurent Gasse deliberated for a long time on the best way to develop his career as a Human Resources professional. He realized he needed essential business skills. Thanks to his extensive academic background—Laurent also has two Master’s degrees in Business Law and Human Resources—and the coaching he received at the MBA Center Paris, Laurent was accepted into the Executive MBA program of his dreams.



Could you start by telling us a little about yourself?

Currently, I am a project manager in the Human Resources department for the Apave Parisienne, one of the 5 companies that make up Apave Group in Paris, a leader in technical control and professional training, with 20 offices in France. I manage a small team of six employees, down from nine when I first started.

Why did you choose to do an MBA at this point in your career?

I feel that I am ready for a big change in my career. As an HR professional, I know the importance of having well defined short- and long-term career goals. And the ESSEC-Mannheim Executive MBA offers all that I need to reach them. My short-term goal is to play an active role in the upcoming mergers of the five companies that make up the Apave Group. My long-term goal is to join a large multinational organization and to become its Director of Human Resources. I would of course expect to start out as the Director of Human Resources for one of the organization’s subsidiaries before evolving towards the top position for the whole group.

Tell us more about your short-term goals.

In my previous job with French tobacco company Seita, I played a role in the merger between Seita and its Spanish rival Tabacalera, which gave rise to the fourth largest cigarette maker in the world and a leading cigar maker. The next logical step in my career path with Apave would be to repeat that experience, but playing a much bigger role in one of Apave’s upcoming mergers. I also think I would have an advantage in that Apave has few managers capable of taking on such responsibilities. By doing an Executive MBA, I will be able to hone my international skills and round out my professional experience.

What was the most difficult part of the MBA application process?

I think the most difficult part of the process was preparing for the essay questions. By background, I am trained like a lawyer, not a businessman. Fortunately, Dr. Hubert Silly from the MBA Center Paris has developed a revolutionary method to help candidates write their essays. In fact I now use his method at work. Hubert Silly, who has a PhD from Harvard, starts off with two important dimensions: structuring your thoughts and developing your logic. He also improved my interview skills. My interview at ESSEC was more difficult than I expected, but thanks to the MBA Center I did well. The two-part interview lasted 30 minutes, where English was spoken in the first part and French in the second. Trouble is I do not use English in my current job, and so answering questions from the Director of the ESSEC Executive MBA and two of his staff members was very stressful. But having studied Hubert Silly’s interview techniques, I sailed through all the questions they threw at me.

What advice do you have for MBA candidates?

My advice is to choose your executive MBA based on these three key assets: (a) faculty and staff, (b) location, and (c) alumni network. For me, ESSEC has all of these assets: wonderful teachers and staff, classes that are taught in four different locations – La Défense (Paris Business District), Brussels, Mannheim, and Singapore, and an incredible network of alumni. Go ESSEC!

Latest News Update
Laurent has just been hired by an international company as a Human Resources Director of the French subsidiary. The fact he’s a student at ESSEC in Executive MBA was a real advantage for his new company.


 

A Certified Public Accountant and Military Officer Sees the MBA as a Major Transformation Opportunity



Cosimo Italiano, admitted to Tuck

by Brian Henry, PhD (Trinity College, Dublin)

By doing an MBA at a top business school, Cosimo Italiano hopes to transform the strengths from his distinguished military career into a professional profile where his international experience comes to the forefront. It is a long shot, but he is not one to wilt under fire.



Could you start by telling us a little about your academic experience? You’re Italian, aren’t you?

That’s right. I hold a business degree from Università degli Studi di Torino (1997) and a political science degree from Università degli Studi di Trieste (2004). I also earned my CPA certification in 2002.

I understand you acquired some of your first international experiences as an officer in the Italian Army which helped you decide on an MBA.

It is a fact that the MBA degree attracts many former officers with similar experiences worldwide. As for myself, I served in the Italian Army as a Commissariat Corps Officer for nine years. I actually was the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the Regione Carabinieri based in Bolzano, where I was assigned to help in the rebuilding of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1999.

And so you chose to take a pause in your military career and take on a new challenge?

Yes. My decision to apply for an MBA was a critical next step in the planning of my short- and long-term career goals. As an officer, I gained experience in government and public policy, enriched by national and international assignments, foreign missions and constant leadership opportunities. It is, nevertheless, a career that follows a well-defined path in terms of progress and responsibilities. Now I want a new professional challenge, one which I can only find in the world of business and finance. My academic experience would not support this radical change of career even combined with years of work experience. An MBA can give me the right tools and competencies to face this change.

How did you get through the application process?

It went well, though I must admit that I struggled with taking the GMAT. Another difficult point was to find the right school and program, given that I could not travel and visit all the different schools that I had in mind. Finally, as the application process involves so many different steps, such as sending letters of recommendation and writing essays, I found it very helpful to be assisted in these steps by the MBA Center Milan. I found their staff very professional, and they truly helped me tackle the process in the right way and time.

Which program did you finally attend?

My first choice was Tuck. As a European, I wanted to join an American program in order to enjoy a well-rounded international educational and life experience. Tuck Business School is also where the MBA was invented. Every day when I go to school, I realize how much importance Tuck attaches to its MBA heritage. As an Army Officer, I tend to be emotionally involved with the institution I am working with, and I am very attached to the school’s values and traditions.

How would you describe the learning environment there?

Tuck’s approach is practical. The coursework is enriched with real-life activities that are providing me with the adequate tools to perform in business. The international aspect of the program is also enriching, making my experience enjoyable and interesting.

What advice would you give to future MBA applicants?

Well, let’s say: Do your best on the GMAT and the essays, and do not be afraid to seek help from the folks that specialize in MBA test preparation and coaching. You will save yourself a lot of time. A high score at the tests and good coaching can be the winning determinants in your admittance to a top school. It can make the difference between being admitted to your first targeted program or to your fifth or sixth. Now is the right moment to improve your chances. In short, work a bit smarter now and you will earn a big asset for the rest of your life.

 

Capgemini Consultant: Giving Golf Lessons Helped Me Learn Important Soft Skills



Sébastien Rozanes, admitted to Wharton

by Brian Henry, PhD (Trinity College, Dublin)

Having earned a Masters degree in Information Systems and Technology Management from HEC Paris, Sébastien Rozanes realized that he needed an international business qualification to pursue his entrepreneurial goals. The amateur golfing instructor applied to a top school in the USA and now looks forward to obtaining a solid management education.



What is your professional background? What skills have you developed that will help you succeed in your MBA?

Three years ago, I joined Capgemini Consulting to be part of one of the most dynamic and innovative consulting firms in Paris. The firm offered me a template for leadership and a platform to exercise competence in management and organization. This international experience has been an excellent environment to master the fundamentals of management consulting: strategic thinking, client-oriented behavior, and value-driven mindset. Furthermore, Capgemini offered me the opportunity to start teaching case-based classes five days a year at HEC Paris. In fact, as an alumnus of HEC, I am glad to give classes to students enrolled in HEC’s specialized Masters degree program.

Why did you decide to apply for an MBA Program now? How do you expect the MBA to help your career?

Clearly, an MBA opens up new perspectives. I know that my long-lasting goal is to create my own company, just like my parents, my grandparents, and most of my family did. Today, I lack corporate finance skills to manage my own company successfully. An MBA is a safe environment where I can take more risks and engage in business plan competitions, consulting for entrepreneurs, internships in the private equity and investment banking sector. Furthermore, by going to the USA, I will gain international exposure, and I am convinced that global thinking is becoming a major requirement for business ventures in the coming decades. My immediate post-MBA objective is to enter a private equity or venture capital firm. As an associate, I would lead in-depth analysis on the deals, trends, business plans, and people driving promising industries and entrepreneurial ventures. After three to five years in private equity, I would have the business and financial knowledge to reach my ultimate goal: successfully launching my own company.

Why did you have a preference for MBA programs in the USA over those in Europe?

My wish has always been to work in the USA. Therefore, the choice of a North American school was clear from the very beginning. I did not even look at European business schools. The choice of business school is essentially a matter of post-MBA career goals.

Will any of your outside interests contribute to your MBA experience?

In some ways, they certainly will. For example, I used to give golfing lessons to young people at my local golf club on weekends for four years. Like Jack Welch, I improved my game playing in amateur golf competitions, but I learned even more from teaching the spirit and the techniques of golf to others. I became aware that the way you teach, the way you communicate and the way you give to others is a two-way learning process. So from a personal perspective, I am looking forward to a strong group-learning experience and an intellectual challenge with a talented and motivated MBA student body. Having the best people around will undoubtedly be a unique opportunity for me, and I hope to give as much as I receive. I expect that within a few weeks of joining the Wharton community, I will undergo a transformational experience that will go beyond my mid-term goals and even last a lifetime.

What was the most difficult part of the application process?

The MBA application process is a long-lasting adventure. I started thinking about an MBA two years before actually sending in my application. I think that a key success factor is to take the necessary time to get well prepared for the numerous tasks that have to be handled. But, undoubtedly, the most difficult part was the essay writing.

How did you approach the essay questions?

First, I took into consideration that each business school has its own expectations, its own values, and therefore its own essay questions. Likewise, each candidate has his or her own achievements and stories to tell. Hence, it is a difficult and time-consuming process to market yourself effectively to your target schools. As for myself, I tried to get in touch with current students, alumni and admissions officers to discover the inherent culture of each school. I also tried to differentiate myself from other candidates with academic and professional backgrounds similar to mine. I discovered that many of the other French candidates who were applying to the same schools had degrees from the same grande école system. But admissions officers are rarely French. And to them, grande école candidates pretty much all look alike on paper. So I tried to be as much myself as I could. For example, I did not hesitate to explain the mistakes that I had committed in my professional career and how I had learned from them. To me, failures are as much a part of the learning process as successes are, and there is no error to be ashamed of, provided that you have learned from it.

What advice do you have for other MBA applicants?

First, be organized. Applying to MBAs is tough and time consuming. Start with your GMAT. Your score will enable you to segment the schools to which you can reasonably apply. Then, select the right programs that fit your needs and your career goals. Do not be shy. You must meet with as many people from your target schools as you can. Then, know what you want to achieve. Since the best schools are selective, you must take the necessary time to complete the application and meet with your recommenders to explain what you want and why you want them to write those long, but insightful recommendation letters.


 

ENPC MBA Graduate Rewrites His CV with a Difference Now



Mathieu Vaidis, admitted to ENPC

by Brian Henry, PhD (Trinity College, Dublin)

Mathieu Vaidis constantly found himself at a disadvantage because of the lack of a university degree. To overcome the obstacle, he earned an MBA at ENPC School of International Management (Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées) in 2007. He not only earned a solid degree in management education but also was hired at the job of his dreams thanks to the internship he successfully completed during the last six months of the ENPC MBA Program.



How do you feel having completed an MBA?

Well, to be honest, I am quite proud of myself, as I can now look at my graduation photo on the mantle and see myself as a successful postgraduate. Too often in the past, I was overlooked because I did not have what the Americans like to call the sheep skin on the wall. I have one now and no one is ever going to take it away from me.

Will you mount your MBA Diploma on your office wall?

I don’t know if I will have time, but I may want to hang it one day either at home or at my office. It is just as much of a personal achievement as a professional qualification.

Why did you choose an MBA at ENPC?

There were four aspects that really convinced me about ENPC. First, it is the oldest school in France and I wanted to feel the entrepreneurial traditions that are an important part of the ENPC experience. Second, it has a small but international student body. In my class of 50, there were 27 nationalities represented. I actually looked at another better known b-school just outside of Paris, but despite what I read about them I found myself in a largely French environment. It is important for MBA candidates not to believe everything you read. For me, an MBA must have an international environment in both theory and practice. Third, the cost of the ENPC is almost half that of competing programs, and the duration, like INSEAD’s, is compact – only 10 months. So I was able to avoid sinking into debt and being out of the workforce for too long a time. The fourth and final reason why I chose ENPC is the innovative mix of core subjects taught in one-week segments during the first four months and a combination of consulting work and elective courses during the last six months.

Why don’t you tell us a bit more about the program, your classes, your internship?

During the first half of the MBA program, when the core courses are taught, we were about 50 participants coming from two ENPC MBA programs, the Tri-Continent MBA and the International MBA. Classes were really intense, with each core subject being taught in its entirety during a one-week period. So, each week brought a new subject and of course exams at the end of each week. After the first semester, the Tri-Continent participants go on to complete their MBAs in Philadelphia and in Tokyo and the International MBA participants pick their electives and carry out a professional project. Along with another participant, I applied for an internship at Bristol-Myers Squibb in Paris. During the six-month internship, I came back to the ENPC campus for classes every other week. It was tough to go to work one week and then do the elective coursework the next. At the end of the six months, we presented the results of our consulting project to top management, and they congratulated us on a job well done.

I understand you received the job opportunity of your dreams following graduation. Can you tell us a little about that?

It’s funny. Originally, I had intended to stay with my old company, but when I turned up for work my boss had been replaced with someone I had never met. So instead of getting the promotion that had been promised, I was told to sit at my same old desk and do my same old job as if nothing had happened. You can imagine my disappointment. What my new boss did not realize, of course, was that I had been offered a fantastic job by the very company that had accepted my ENPC internship proposal six months earlier. So I turned in my resignation and will now start work at Bristol-Myers Squibb as the EMEA Marketing Manager, along with my Greek classmate who has also been hired. Indeed, the MBA has transformed my career with this new job. Prior to my MBA, I had worked in IT departments for over 10 years. So as a result of my MBA, I have completely changed functions going from an IT support role to an international marketing role.

Thinking back about the admissions process to the program, which part would you say was the hardest?

For me, it certainly was the GMAT. I had not done any math for 10 years. But thanks to the excellent coaching I received at the MBA Center Paris, I exceeded my own expectations and posted a good score. I was really thrilled about test-taking techniques.

What advice do you have for other MBA candidates?

Hit the books and take the paper tests, but just before your exam do the online downloadable test from the official GMAT website. It will get you up to speed on the actual test conditions.

 
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