[Alumni Story] David CHEETHAM, negotiating to win

As an alumni of the University of South Carolina, David Cheetham (who graduated in 2020 from the Master in International Business Negotiation) never imagined he would experience life in France other than by traveling there on holiday. Life had other ideas, and after three years working for a company in Texas, he flew to Paris to go back to school at IÉSEG. It was a leap into the unknown for a fresh start in his career: he looks back over two years that changed everything

Why did you choose this particular master?
Because it was focussed on negotiation, this program felt particularly relevant to me, no matter what sector I chose next. I also wanted to discover France and its culture. The day I arrived in Paris, quite by chance, I came upon a country dance festival which immediately reminded me of Texas! I was amazed by the architecture of the city and its landmarks, it felt as if I was walking through an open-air museum. I was also struck by the number of pedestrianised areas, a far cry from the “cars everywhere” situation that we complain about in the USA.

How did you settle in?
It was quick and seamless thanks to the multicultural approach of the students and teaching staff. Despite our different origins, we soon realised that we had a lot of things in common. Talking to each of them was a fantastic opportunity and I learned a lot by comparing points of view, sometimes a bit like a negotiation! I was also lucky that my family and some of my friends came to visit me to see Paris and other European cities.

What did you do after those two years?
I returned to Texas and joined Alwood. It’s a company that specialises in supplying manufacturers with aluminum extrusion, a durable and cost-effective solution popular in the construction industry.
As Business Development Manager, I focus on the sales and growth strategy for our business. Suffice to say that the art of negotiation is very important in my everyday life and I would not have been able to do this job without the Master I took at IÉSEG!

That sounds like a very positive summary…
Indeed! I went into this Masters with no other goal than to give a new direction to my career and I don’t regret my decision for a single second.Applying what I lear ned three years ago in a practical way and seeing that it works, both with customers and suppliers, brings me a lot of satisfaction every day. And it goes without saying, I intend to return to France whenever possible: living and studying in Paris was an unforgettable experience.

The art of negotiation…

The Master in International Business Negotiation program is divided into two stages: a year of study, followed by time spent working in industry the following year.
I loved the fact that it takes into account cultural differences, the practical nature of the lessons and that it focuses on conflict resolution, but also on creativity in problem-solving.
I learned one thing in particular: to ensure that both parties are satisfied, it’s essential to find a way of making the slice of cake larger for each side instead of wanting the biggest piece.

This article was written by Luna Créations for IÉSEG Network’s magazine, IÉS #16.

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