Executive MBA: a stepping-stone to your career – Joint interview with Catherine Demangeot & Véronique Jung

Among its many programs, IÉSEG offers the Executive MBA, which is designed for professionals who want to advance their career by acquiring skills and knowledge to entail a sustainable performance in their organizations. We interviewed Catherine DEMANGEOT, Academic Co-Director of the Executive MBA to learn more about the program, and Véronique JUNG, graduate of the 2017 Executive MBA to hear about her experience.

Véronique – why did you choose to study an Executive MBA and how did it fit into your career plan?
I always had the Executive MBA in mind, I considered it as a professional achievement. The opportunity came up when my company at the time suggested that I take the program. My work was appreciated and it was in line with the professional development that my company envisaged for me.

IÉSEG was already a reputable school (even more so nowadays), so this program has a real value. The decision to take the course was not easy to make at first, as I knew that it would require a lot of investment in terms of time and availability. I remembered a phrase from Richard Branson, a British entrepreneur, creator of the Virgin brand: “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!” I followed this advice and made the choice to take the EMBA.

Before starting the program, I had some expectations in terms of technical skills acquisition but as it went along, I realized that the program was far more than just about developing new knowledge; it was a real adventure of personal growth and development of soft skills. The program is a two-year journey, which allows you to see the world and society differently, learn to know yourself better by getting out of your comfort zone and gain more self-confidence.

Catherine – how was the Executive MBA designed to allow participants to meet their professional expectations?
With the program, participants work on four key areas: orchestrating activities for sustainable performance, managing innovation, developing a strategic mindset, and positive leadership – a management method that enables all stakeholders to unite around inspiring visions. This combination of technical skills and soft skills is key to sustainable performance.

Moreover, one of the characteristics of our program is that it requires working on big projects on corporate issues that require a lot of integration. Therefore, there is a great deal of transferability between what is achieved in the program and what is expected in a company.

Through the Executive MBA, participants have the opportunity to step out of their usual environment and explore new perspectives – it is like a laboratory of experimentations. They get to meet people with different backgrounds and experiences, and learn lessons and ways of doing things differently by working with people who have a different point of view. The program allows for a reflection on their own way of being and doing, on the path they have taken. It also allows to create new links between skills and experiences which can reveal new perspectives – it is a stepping-stone to a new stage in their professional life.

Some candidates have seen the health crisis as a source of opportunities – it was the perfect moment for them to start an Executive MBA. We have noticed a strong interest for the program lately – with the health crisis, companies really need people who think systemically, differently from their established patterns, and use different tools in order to question the usual practices.

Véronique – How did you manage to accommodate the three aspects of your life (professional, personal and student)?
It is essential to be stable in your professional and personal life before starting an MBA, so that you can fully commit to this new adventure, to this return to School. It was the right time for me because I was comfortable in my job and had a stable family situation. This allowed me to start the Executive MBA with some serenity. The second year of the program was much more difficult as I changed jobs. Taking up a new position is a challenge because there is a lot of things to learn quickly in order to become really efficient. The kindness and solidarity shown by everyone in class were essential for my success in this program.

With the Executive MBA, you learn to manage time and priorities differently in both your professional and personal life. I have changed the way I manage my time with my family and it has been beneficial. The Executive MBA is not just a diploma, it is a real adventure which makes you change profoundly and teaches you to focus on what is essential.

Catherine – How can participants get the most out of the Executive MBA?
First of all, there is the question of taking the plunge, and I think it is interesting to see how Véronique remembered Richard Branson’s maxim. For some participants, it is a longer journey because they’re not sure that they can juggle their different roles, or even how this will help them. However, once they start the program, they develop practices that allow them to work more effectively or see synergies.

They quickly see themselves developing new ways of acting in their roles throughout the courses.
A piece of advice that gave one of our alumni is: “let yourself be transformed”. Through this program, participants open themselves to reflection and questioning on their practices and points of views in order to recombine everything into a new whole that is more suitable. This time of reflection allows them to have a more stable foundation, to gain confidence, and to become even more impactful changemakers. Participants develop a new narrative of their own story, they feel like they have grown up and can bring something new to the table.

With the program, each participant is exposed to new ways of doing things, in a caring environment where collaboration within the class is paramount. It allows participants to feel safe to learn and evolve, without being judged. The participants question themselves and evolve quickly.

And you, Véronique – how did you value your EMBA degree?
The diploma helped me find the job position that I currently hold – when you show that you keep learning throughout your career and that you can combine an EMBA and a professional career, it shows a state of mind and skills that attract recruiters. I gained confidence to apply to jobs to which I would have never applied before. What I learned with the Executive MBA, I put it into practice every day, consciously or not, whether it is in terms of technical skills or soft skills.

IÉSEG's 60th Anniversary Badge