Executive Mastère Spécialisé® in Financial Management – interview with Patrick Daguet and Michelle Molliere

Since 2016, the Executive Mastère Spécialisé® in Financial Management of IÉSEG is proposed to professionals wishing to make their career in finance evolve in order to take on more responsibilities within their company and/or change jobs. We have interviewed Patrick Daguet, Academic Director of this program, to learn more about the objectives of the training, and Michelle Molliere, Graduate of the 2021 class, in order to know more about her experience with this program.

Michelle – why did you choose the Executive Mastère Spécialisé® in Financial Management? What were your objectives?

I originally studied International Business and I unexpectedly moved into accounting. I discovered this profession which I liked very much because of the diversity of the missions and the numerous perspectives of evolution. I thus decided to build my career around this profession. I started out as an assistant accountant and moved on to accountant positions, and then became an accounting manager, and administrative and accounting director. Given my career path, it was logical and relevant for me to become Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Today, I hold a position of CFO within the group “les menus services”. In addition to my professional aspirations, my company was evolving very quickly and I needed to acquire skills in finance in particular. I thus wanted to enroll in one of the best management Schools in France and the Executive Mastère Spécialisé® in Financial Management was the program best suited to my professional expectations, since it is comprehensive and allows me to acquire technical skills, particularly in finance, business valuation, negotiation, and soft skills. I also really appreciated the length of the program – one year – which is perfectly adapted to professional life: it is neither too long nor too short.

How has this program contributed to your career?

Now I am much more self-confident, I have a better understanding and mastery of the subjects. For example, before, when someone talked to me about financial analysis, I was a little nervous, but now I’m much more at ease. I have also been able to take on certain assignments, such as handling tax returns. Another example is that I had previously subcontracted the business valuation, whereas today I am able to do the negotiations myself and even negotiate better prices with the sellers. On the other hand, I participate more and more in strategic meetings. In addition to all the ongoing projects, I am currently implementing an account consolidation software. Thanks to the time management module, I have been able to meet all my tax deadlines. The training provides us with tools that help us carry out our missions. I can say that, thanks to the Executive Mastère Spécialisé® in Financial Management, I am better equipped to face all the challenges related to my position.

Patrick – How was the program designed to meet the expectations of the participants and how has the program evolved?

Originally, the Executive Mastère Spécialisé® in Financial Management was built around the tasks of the financial director and what the financial director will have to do in the future. Beyond the technical skills, we decided to integrate the managerial dimension in a consistent manner. Rather than going for a program that would have put the financial department at the center of the system, we have created a program that is focused on the person, taking into account the human aspect.

The participants of the previous classes, during debriefing sessions, guided us on the changes to be made. Rather than building the program on our own, we listened to what our graduates told us. They identified the elements they felt were missing and shared them with us. This helped us to move the program in the right direction. In addition, we have a Professional Advisory Board that meets once a year and brings together professionals from the business world. They analyze our program with a critical eye and tell us what is appropriate and what is not. Listening to the participants and the market is paramount.

Since Michelle’s graduation, we have made evolve several dimensions of the Executive Mastère Spécialisé® in Financial Management: we have integrated CSR, business intelligence and data visualization, we have strengthened the development of human skills and added a module on career change.

We will make sure to update our program every two years in order to remain in line with the market, because it is essential to adapt regularly to the needs of companies and recruiters so that our future graduates are always as attractive on the job market.

Michelle – How do you juggle the 3 aspects of your life (student, professional, personal) when you are in this program?

It is indeed not easy to combine everything because this program is demanding. However, I found that it was well adapted to the constraints of a company. Indeed, the format of a few days per month allows you not to be absent from the company for too long and therefore to be able to continue to follow your projects and be always operational. But this still requires a lot of discipline and organization. You have to plan to make some sacrifices; it is not a long quiet river. You have to be aware from the start that you are going to have to be extremely rigorous. Moreover, having the support of your family is essential when you have a family life, otherwise you cannot succeed. However, you shouldn’t be afraid to take the plunge because it’s well worth it. Personally, I can see all the benefits that I could get from it afterwards.

Patrick – How did we make this program professional?

I think that the main quality that we recognize in this program from the point of view of companies is that it is pragmatic and operational. Physically, we go back to school but we don’t have a “scholarly” way of doing things, there is no written tests. The participants intervene a lot in the courses, it is an opportunity for an exchange and to focus the discussion on methods and techniques that have been proven to work. We have noticed that our participants sometimes come looking for a methodology, a structure, a technique that they have not learned before. Our role is to help them structure all this. The companies that send their employees to us want their employees to come out stronger and be operational immediately. After only a few months of training, the person changes, both in terms of behavior and in terms of technical soundness. The person starts to take on projects, to take initiatives with a certain confidence, to undertake things that they would not have considered without this training.

Beyond that, the detailed content of the program is reassuring to companies and participants. The fact that the program is structured, very detailed, reassures the company that the employee is not going to waste time and is going to acquire varied, solid and up-to-date skills.

Michelle – Do you have any advice for future graduates of this program?

I would advise them not to wait too long to take up the position of CFO (Chief Financial Officer) after completing their year of study. You have to practice as soon as possible because you acquire a lot of knowledge and skills but you also forget them very quickly if you don’t put them into practice. I would also suggest to them to be proactive, to take initiatives and not to hesitate to put things in motion.

Patrick – What are the opportunities with the program?

The opportunities are varied. Very naturally, the program offers the possibility of obtaining a promotion and an increase in the scope of your activity with higher responsibilities.

It is also possible to build and create your own business. We did not necessarily anticipate this option, but we realize that in the end, it is quite popular among graduates.

Finally, between salaried employment and entrepreneurship, there is the position of fractional CFO. We have seen it develop increasingly over the years.  On the other hand, we hear more and more about “digital nomads”, and it is often mistakenly thought that this is only for people who work in digital, yet this option is also suitable for finance. If our program can help people become digital nomads in their industry, then we are delighted!