Husband, father and strategic innovation business lead for a major telecommunications company, Allain Razafimaharo is a rigorous individual who gives his all. As a Wushu martial artist, casual marathoner and former rugby player, he knows the value of patience, practice and playing by the rules. Both his professional track record and his daily meditation practice attest to his hard work and perseverance. After 18 years of professional experience in his industry, Allain chose to enroll in the ESSEC Executive MBA program, both to set an example for his teenage daughter and to bolster his financial acumen. He graduated from the ESSEC EMBA program as part of the Class of 2018 and has since seen great success, and an upward trajectory, in his career
Keep reading for the full interview.
With nearly 20 years of professional experience, why did you decide on an MBA program?
My family always inspires me to be a better person. I wanted to reach new heights for my daughter and show her that anything is possible as long as you keep learning and taking action.
What really helped me to decide to take the leap was signing two high-profile projects back to back, as a bid manager. Despite those successes, my company was, at the time, going through a period of turbulence and restructuring, and I figured it would be wise to complement my academic background with an MBA so that I could market myself better internally or externally, if needed.
And why did you choose the ESSEC EMBA in particular?
I carefully researched other leading programs and ESSEC stood out from the other institutions for its excellent academic credentials and its human approach to leadership. I chose the ESSEC Executive MBA program for its prestige and reputation, and because it featured residencies at UCLA in California and the IMD management school in India, which both appealed to me personally. It also offered joint courses with the ESSEC & Mannheim EMBA program. Finally, it came highly recommended by my boss, who is an alumnus.
What were your goals when you began the program?
I wrote in my application essay that I wanted to become an account manager within 3 years of graduating.
Otherwise, I didn’t have a specific idea of where I wanted to go but I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do and be in the short and medium terms. I wanted most of all to make a difference and to strengthen my own credentials and experience.
How did the EMBA program assist you in achieving your goals?
In a very direct way, I was indeed promoted to regional manager, though this actually happened before graduation.
The techniques and skills, including the soft ones, taught during the Executive MBA classes were absolutely instrumental to the success of my intrapreneurship project. I had the opportunity to apply them all, from the very basic design of a business canvas to the more elaborate techniques of modern financial management.
And the truth is, holding the ESSEC Executive MBA diploma gave me tremendous self confidence and I felt that the company’s senior executives and most importantly, my colleagues, came to value my voice even more.
What were some of your best moments or experiences in the ESSEC EMBA program?
During my eighteen months at ESSEC I met true legends of the academic and business worlds from across the globe. All the teachers and external presenters of the ESSEC Executive MBA program are luminaries in their fields. But the determining encounter was the one I had with my coach, Didier Defert. He reshaped my vision of the world and my self perception.
What challenge(s) did you overcome during your time as a participant?
My biggest challenge was juggling my very demanding job, my family life and all the studying. I helped my family and myself prepare psychologically for the big changes that I knew my participation would bring. Having my family support was a huge advantage, and helped me weather the demanding trajectory.
What was the most valuable aspect of studying in the EMBA program?
Not only was I able to continue working during my studies, but my boss also offered me a new position while I was at ESSEC. I was tasked with leading a new initiative: strategic innovation business for Western Europe. Starting with zero customers, I grew our line of business to 100M€ in signed contracts. I don’t think the story would have ended the same way if I had not decided to go back to school.
What advice would you give to future applicants?
Go for ESSEC. You will experience a unique journey that no other institution is able to offer you, and you will never regret it. And once you’re in, enjoy the ride to the fullest.
What books, authors or thought leaders would you recommend to others?
I recommend reading Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.
How would you sum up your ESSEC experience in one word?
- Learn more about the ESSEC Executive MBA program.
- Download the ESSEC EMBA Brochure
- Talk to an Executive MBA program advisor.