Reconstruct Your Beliefs
An interview with Michael Aissaoui Reconstruct Your Beliefs
Why did you decide to pursue an Executive MBA?
Before enrolling in the executive MBA at ESCP Europe, I was working at the Strategy Department for Lafarge, handling the company’s MENA Mergers and Acquisitions operations. I was at a stage in my professional and personal life where I could evaluate what I was good at and not good at in order to determine what I had to work on. I needed the tools which would enable me to speak with internal as well as external stake holders and develop dialogue at corporate boards, in order to carve out a career in Mergers & Acquisitions and at a corporate level.
What were the most important aspects you considered when choosing an Executive MBA course?
I was looking for an executive MBA in a top European school where the average age is around 30-31 years, along with higher average years of professional experience. I wanted to be in an international environment. ESCP Europe could meet all these criteria, being one of the best schools in France along with HEC Paris and INSEAD, with a student body with a higher average age representing around 25 nationalities. ESCP Europe offered me interesting electives, an internal consulting project and an emerging market seminar, which I decided to do in India.
What was the most difficult part of getting the Executive MBA?
It is very important how you want to position yourself, how you prepare your application, how you present it, how you picture yourself after the MBA. You need to answer the questions of why you want to do an MBA and whether it is the right time for you. You shouldn’t do an MBA just because it is trendy. You need to challenge yourself by evaluating your personal and professional life, by agreeing to change yourself and deconstruct your previous beliefs t o reconstruct your new beliefs. And this is a big opportunity that one should be thankful for.
What was your goal and how did the EMBA help you achieve it?
From the beginning, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in Mergers & Acquisitions. I was already working in the sector but the MBA helped me to bring my career to a different level, to a more strategic level. After completing the course, I started working in M&A at KPMG and one year later I was head-hunted by Societe Generale, where I worked for six and a half years. In 2012, I was appointed the Head of Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) by National Bank of Abu Dhabi.
What did this executive MBA course add to your professional experience?
I learnt to follow a strategic approach to business covering all aspects and inter- dynamics of corporate strategy, finance, organizational behavior, marketing, HR, IT, governance, international negotiations and culture, etc. Taking the decision to do an MBA, and the MBA itself, was an interesting exercise in changing my personal habits and previous ways of executing business. I took around 20 of the 22 elective courses offered at E S C P Europe in order to get as much as possible from the MBA. The electives are an eye-opener, they are a good introduction to another field. I would advise future MBA students to take as many electives as possible and enrich their knowledge in a variety of fields. Finally, I would say it all depends on you. If I had to do it again, I would do it without a doubt.
How would you describe the learning environment at ESCP Europe?
Simply great! The environment was very genuine, friendly, relaxed, refreshing and very open-minded. The quality of the courses, teachers and visiting professors was very high. Last but not least, I built very good relationships with my classmates with whom I am still friends.
Michael Aissaoui, ESCP Europe Graduate
Mr. Aissaoui earned an Executive MBA from the European School of Management-Paris (ESCP Europe). He also holds a Master's degree in Corporate Finance from the University of Paris-Dauphine and another Master's degree in Economics and Mathematics from the University of Paris-Sorbonne. Michael has significant experience in corporate finance advisory and mergers & acquisitions, including 15 years in cross-border M&A transactions in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), on both the origination and the execution side. He has worked in Paris and London advising MENA and European clients. In 2012, Michael was appointed Head of Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) by the National Bank of Abu Dhabi within the Investment Banking Group to expand M&A advisory.