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TRIUM Global EMBA alumni recently gathered in Paris to attend a panel discussion ‘How the EMBA Changed my Life’, hosted at HEC Paris, and led by Olga Jordao (Class of 2013) of the TRIUM Alumni Steering Committee.
The session was opened with a guest talk from Albert Hiribarrondo, of Alspective group, a seasoned expert in leadership and global executive search. The remaining time was dedicated to insights, discussion and Q&A between a packed room of attendees and a panel of TRIUM and HEC Paris EMBA alumni. The panel gave inspirational yet highly honest accounts of the impact of the EMBA journey on their lives and careers.
Most of the panel were already very well established in their roles and industries when they decided to take the leap and do the EMBA. Most also knew they were seeking change, but the shape that change would take was yet to be seen. In addition to the academic frameworks and structured knowledge provided by the world-class professors who taught them, the experience brought the alumni something less tangible, but perhaps more important:
TRIUM gave me the desire to network, to be flexible and open to ideas
recounted Marie-Josée Andrieu (Class of 2008).
The vital element of EMBA, most alumni agreed, lay in the interaction between highly-experienced participants and the way they opened windows for each other onto different ideas, approaches and opportunities that went far beyond their own roles and industries. The group Capstone Project, and the emphasis on peer-to-peer learning, provided fertile ground for encouraging innovative thinking and the audacity to take on opportunities that challenged and inspired, rather than only pursuing ‘safe options’ or the next rung on the ladder.
In his first TRIUM career coaching session at the LSE, Philippe Nacson (Class of 2012) was asked to describe his ideal future career – something he treated back then as a purely hypothetical exercise – to which he gave the vague response: “something creative, with robots”. Seven years later, he is the founder of the industry award winning ‘Robot of the Year,’ as well as Lost Androids, a global project promoting the positive facets of human-android interactions. Prior to this transition, Philippe had spent 20 years working in the finance industry.
Another example of dramatic change, Natalia Blokhina (Class of 2015) realized she wanted to change paths and join a smaller business, having spent 12 years with corporate giants AB InBEV and BAT in Europe. For the past two years she has been executive director of a boutique investment office in Moscow, having resettled in her native Russia. “Try to listen to what you would love to do”, Nacson counselled the audience more than once – it is this clarity of self-awareness, combined with a new knowledge and transformed perspective on business that ultimately guided the alumni through the next part of their journey upon graduation.
But all panel members were ready to admit the challenges, moments of doubt, and even stagnation. “Remember that nobody is waiting for you…you have to stay very humble” advised Marie-Josée Andrieu, who graduated in the midst of the global financial crisis. And of course it is possible to take on too much change all at once: “if you are doing multiple changes at the same time, you increase your risk of failure”, Natalia Blokhina observed. Whilst alumni were not able to control the business environment or job market they graduated into, they did come equipped with the knowledge of what was important to them, and thus where they would concentrate their efforts and energies. They also arrived with the extensive networks to open doors where they may not have existed before.
All alumni agreed, in response to the final question of the evening- “is the TRIUM degree a ticket to the New World?”- that the answer was certainly ‘yes’ but with a very important caveat- it is down to each and every graduate to decide what their ‘New World’ will be.