Interview with Metty MAVOUNIA and Jessen VALAYODAPILLAI, alumni of the IÉSEG Executive MBA program (Class of 2017). We asked them about their experience with the EMBA program and their professional consultancy thesis, which looked at new crowdsourcing models using digital platforms for fostering business development and social impact in Africa.
MM: I’ve always been passionate about digital potential and social innovation. Because I was keen to work on a challenging and impacting project, the starting point (for me) was to develop additional business skills.
My choice was determined by the cutting-edge nature of the IÉSEG EMBA program, including advanced courses in sustainable leadership and management, specialization tracks in entrepreneurship and the immersion experiences in various countries or business sectors.
JV: I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs and at the beginning of my career, I spent two years as an entrepreneur in mechanical & electrical engineering. I liked this challenging environment.
I chose IÉSEG because of the program’s human centered approach that I strongly believe in. Secondly, as I decided to go back to “entrepreneurial life”, I wanted to acquire strong business development and leadership skills with which IÉSEG provided me, notably through the company accelerator specialized track.*
MM: I’ve opened my mind on how to harness business insights: seeing problems in a new way or a larger context, redefining business strategies in line with principles of sustainability, thinking outside the box, etc. Working with entrepreneurs during the EMBA learning trips and consultancy missions was very fulfilling for me. As a result, and in addition to my current career in project management, I decided to join a volunteer business consultant network that empowered small entrepreneurs with business skills in developing countries.
Since then, throughout the process, by working with people from different backgrounds, with a variety of skillsets, I’ve learned to become a better listener and deeply connect with others.
JV: One of the most valuable experiences of my career so far, both professionally personally. We were 14 “students” on the EMBA program. I felt like it was an adventure, in fact we were 14 collaborators working together. Working in this team helped us to apply all the leadership, relational and other soft skills we learned in the different courses.
Moreover, the different workshops and projects we did in our peer group helped us to think differently, to think ‘global’ and to have a systemic approach when tackling business issues.
JV + MM: The intention of our research was to understand how crowdsourcing models using digital platforms contribute to foster business development in emerging countries. Another angle in which these business models were explored was their potential to generate and maximize their social impact on communities and local economies.
JV + MM: As a result, we identified guiding principles that allowed crowdsourcing platforms to thrive, and suitable indicators from different sources of norms and standards to build a responsible outsourcing (also called “Impact Sourcing”) barometer. In addition, a roadmap dedicated to crowdsourcing firms was proposed to entrepreneurs, covering all the phases related to shared value implementation strategy.
The research helped us to understand better the concepts of direct and indirect network effect. At SynApps Digital Co. Ltd in Mauritius, when a client wants to develop a mobile app, we always brainstorm on how to integrate the crowd to maximize this network effect.
We also had the opportunity to exchange views and share key findings in the light of business experiences of three different companies, enabling this research to be used as an executive tool to improve platform business models built upon the crowd.
JV + MM: We would summarise the tools as follows:
• New practices and ways of working using team coaching skills.
• Models and analytic tools in various areas from corporate or competitive strategy to intercultural and diversity management.
• And a strong network (EMBA, IÉSEG Alumni, AMBA network, etc.).
* Jessen cofounded SynApps Digital a startup specialised in web development, tailored automation solutions and mobile apps.