Gregory, who has an engineering background, explains why in 2018 he decided to embark on a two-year Executive MBA programme at IÉSEG School of Management in France, and describes the impact on his leadership identity.

Gregory Dunon, 42, works for Swedish ball bearings maker SKF as Metal Industry Business Development Manager within the EMEA region. Having spent his entire career at the company (within the field of industrial services catering to heavy industries), he has moved between different offices in Asia (Shanghai and Singapore) and Europe.

Why did you decide to join the IÉSEG Executive MBA?

I returned to France in 2017 after 10 years of working abroad. I often heard stories about expats coming back home and having a difficult time readjusting, so my wife and I really tried to anticipate all possible dimensions for this return to be a “good move”. My time in Asia had been so dynamic that it was hard to foresee what could follow: how to keep my interest level, the hectic pace, the variety of missions and responsibilities. More importantly, how to keep learning and progressing every day.

For the first time, I started to wonder if my future resided in my beloved company that gave me so many opportunities. I also looked back at what I had learnt during 20 years working and all those years abroad. Until then, it had always been so simple and straightforward. All of a sudden, it was a little blurry and unclear: I began to have doubts.

I got a ‘taste’ of an Executive MBA in 2012 through a joint corporate programme offered by three international business schools in Asia. I was pretty sure that an EMBA was what I needed and decided it was now or never. The question was - which programme/school should I choose in this crowded market?

After some research, I decided to enrol in the IÉSEG EMBA, which for me offered the best value for money in terms of brand name, triple accreditation and, more importantly, programme content. The latter was the biggest differentiator for me, with the two learning trips to San Francisco and Cape Town, fully covered by the tuition fee, not to mention the coaching and other side benefits that I hadn’t seen in other programmes.

How did you take advantage of this programme?

I believe there are many ways to take advantage of an EMBA and this is a very personal thing. I like to compare it to running a marathon: every runner will have a different goal. It is all about performing… but from your own perspective!

I decided, very early on, to run my EMBA marathon at full speed, taking every chance to learn something new and giving my best in every single assignment. There are so many things that I have taken away, but if I would have to name only a few, the most valuable ones for me would be:

  • Deep self-insight: the IÉSEG EMBA helped me to develop a sharp self-awareness that not only helped me re-build my career plan and professional project, but also made me a better person.
  • Enhanced self-confidence: resulting from the mix of newly acquired knowledge and skills, coupled with my self-awareness.
  • A genuine sense of humility: resulting from the final deliverable of the IÉSEG EMBA, the consultancy thesis. This showed me that things are always more complicated than they may seem at first sight.

It is quite common to feel on top of the world after graduating from an EMBA program. However, being both confident and at the same time approaching every topic with humility is probably the better approach. Anyway, that’s where I hope to be, and I thank the IÉSEG team for that.

How did the IÉSEG EMBA help develop your leadership skills?

The leadership component of the IÉSEG EMBA is in my view the unifying thread of the whole programme. You are basically going through a real journey with eight leadership seminars tactically positioned during the two years of the programme. All the other core modules such as Strategy, Organization and Innovation unfold in such a way that you can progressively practise and consolidate your own leadership identity.

One of the great aspects of the IÉSEG pedagogy is that it is strongly built around group work. You are systematically grouped with different people at each seminar and requested to deliver an assignment together. You need to continuously adapt and position yourself within different competences, personalities, experiences etc. This enables you to maximise your own value and contribution to the group. It is fascinating and was only possible thanks to the diversity within the programme cohorts.

Furthermore, three events or activities during the programme are specifically designed by the IÉSEG team to push your limits even further. Firstly, the Business Game, organised half way through the programme, where you run your company with a team during a complete weekend of competition.

Then, the two weeks of learning trips in San Francisco and Cape Town are engraved in my memory as the most intense, yet rewarding experiences of the EMBA.

Finally, each participant is entitled to hours of individual coaching that can be used freely during the two years, to help build your career project or deal with specific academic or professional issues.

What would you say to someone who is unsure about taking up the challenge of an EMBA?

If you want to become a better version of yourself, professionally and beyond, an EMBA will definitely bring you all the keys for ‘becoming yourself, with skills’ (as I read in one of my favourite business books).

Nothing is automatic though and it is unlikely that you will land your next job just because you have an EMBA. However, if you commit everything you have for the given period, you will get so much in return: it is a life-changing experience and I could not recommend it enough! Enjoy the ride with the IÉSEG EMBA!