When David PEREIRA decided to pursue an Executive MBA at ESSEC in 2019, he never imagined his career would take such a sharp turn. After working for an automobile company for over 2 decades, David decided to launch his start-up, which develops a Holographic Head of Display for the automotive industry...
#ESSECFamily #Benevolent #OpenMinded
Can you tell us about yourself?
David: I’m forty-five years old and married to a beautiful woman for seventeen years, with whom I have two fantastic girls. The youngest is ten years old, and the oldest sixteen. They both speak English, as we lived in India for a couple of years, and the oldest also speaks German as we lived in Germany for about eight years. I have founded my start-up after twenty-two years at Faurecia, a major tier one supplier in the automotive industry. I like reading and rowing... unfortunately I have not been practicing enough. I also like photography and baking for big events like Christmas.
What motivated you to pursue an Executive MBA?
David: There is a saying from Paul Michel Audiard, a French screenwriter and film director, that goes “a sitting intellectual goes less far than a walking idiot”… I didn’t want to sit anymore so I took a decision: to pursue an EMBA. After so many years in the same company, I realized that I needed to develop a 360-degree view of business.
Why did you choose ESSEC, and the ESSEC Executive MBA specifically?
David: I was looking for a degree program. I also wished to graduate from one of the top French business schools... this matters when you want to start a business!
When I was looking for a suitable EMBA program from different business schools, I felt that at ESSEC I was not judged! I hold a BTS diploma (2-year technical diploma) and I had been working for the same company for over 20 years. I was worried I would be left aside or not considered for the program, but, from the recruitment team to the academic team, everybody made sure I felt comfortable and made me a part of a family – the ESSEC family!... and this matters more!
Tell us about your work experience prior to the program?
David: I have worked for 22 years for Faurecia, a French global automotive supplier. I started at the bottom of the ladder, as a CAD designer, and progressed all the way up to program manager. I mainly designed and worked on projects related to the cockpit inside a car. The last three years I had been involved in innovation programs, and presented prototypes to the CES at Las Vegas. CES is an annual trade show organized by the Consumer Technology Association. The event typically hosts presentations of new products and technologies in the consumer electronics industry.
I used to travel all around the world, and spent 2 years in India and 8 years in Germany sharing my expertise with some big players in the automotive industry.
How did the program assist you in achieving your goal of being an entrepreneur?
David: After my ESSEC Executive MBA I decided to start my own business, in November 2020, called Open Reality, and focused on developing a Holographic Head of Display for the automotive industry. We target the "super cars" segment, so Ferrari, McLaren and Lamborghini, for instance.
Although the idea to work around Holographic Head of Display was always in my mind, I never thought I would get into it through an entrepreneurship. I was still working for Faurecia when I decided to pursue an EMBA program, and my aim was to break the “technician” image I had, and to acquire new competencies in order to progress within the company, or look for another one.
I was too “shy” to present my entrepreneurial idea to the class or even talk about it. That shyness faded during the residency program at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), which is part of the ESSEC EMBA. There, we had the opportunity to pitch our project in front of the class and professors. Seeing others present their business ideas, really motivated me to express myself. Although I didn’t take the opportunity to pitch during the UCLA residency, I had the courage to open-up and share my project idea with 4 of classmates (they are on the selfie photo above). They pushed me to go ahead with my vision and morally supported me to overcome my doubts.
I also got a great support from the Academic Director of the ESSEC MBA, Steven Seggie, who made me understand that we sometimes have a very focused vision, and the solution to our problems may be elsewhere…
Related to your business project, what have you achieved so far?
David: During my EMBA I had the opportunity to sign a contract with my first client, a luxury automobile company – I cannot name it right now… While signing the contract I did not emphasized on my past experience or company, rather I presented myself as an ESSEC student, with an innovative project. It paid!
I am still in the process of setting up my business, which should take 2 more years. I am working with R&D teams, industrials, automobile companies, and I am also recruiting different experts…
My project is incubated at ESSEC Ventures and atand at the IMPULSE Incubateur, supported by the French Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, European Union and South of France authorities..
I was also granted the “Jeune Entreprise Innovante” status (Innovative Young Company) delivered by the French Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation.
Somewhere it reassures me that I am on the right track!
What is the best moment(s) in the program?
David: The end! No, I’m joking. I had several master classes that turned me upside down. I will say Negotiations (Aurélien Colson), Economic Analysis for Business (Radu Vranceanu), Corporate Finance (Maggie Gorse) and Intrapreneurship (Fabrice Cavarretta), and to conclude, Law for Business (Genevieve Helleringer).The best part was the network I made and people I met. The interactions with my classmates who came from different corners of the world. I learned so much about them and about how to communicate with people from various cultures.
What is the biggest challenge you've overcome?
David: It was quite a challenge to manage work, family and the ESSEC Executive MBA.
Within the program, we have to work and submit an entrepreneurial group project. It was a challenge for me to convince my classmates to work on a project related to Holographic Head of Display: it was too technical, too new a concept, too premature… Steven Seggie, the academic director, supported me and allowed me to work on this project on my own…. And that meant a lot to me, as nobody put barriers on my way!
Your advice to future applicants?
David: "The capacity to learn is a gift, the ability to learn is a skill, the willingness to learn is a choice" Brian Herbert. Don't confuse a thirst for knowledge with intellectual education. It's about seeking more knowledge to keep awareness of a world that's constantly changing, and not about collecting diplomas underlining your intellectual education.
I wouldn’t be where I am today if ESSEC was not there, if I had not met Steven Seggie or Fabrice Cavarretta...
Any book you would recommend to read?
David: How to Win by Clive Woodward