The Executive MBA program allowed me to break the glass ceiling

Meet Michèle Horner, a 2021 ESSEC Executive MBA alumna who took on the challenge of an executive program, 20 years into her career. Michèle managed to balance her personal and professional life successfully and shares how the choice of joining ESSEC helped her shape her future.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

Michèle: I am married with 3 children juggling a career and home life. I was a Sales Director early before I was 30, and I feel that I’ve struggled to get past that level. I have 20 years of experience as a commercial director in various sectors, managing teams of different sizes.


Tell us about your work experience prior to the program?

Michèle: I have worked for International Companies, setting up subsidies in France and developing European sales.


What was your source of motivation to start an executive program after 20 years of work experience?

Michèle: I wanted to avoid being stuck in a job that i don’t like at 50! My source of motivation was to break the glass ceiling, move onwards and upwards professionally, and I knew a recognized French degree from a top Business School on my CV would contribute to that goal.


Why did you choose the ESSEC Executive MBA program specifically? And why at ESSEC?

Michèle: I chose the Executive MBA because of the Social Project, the international residencies, and the Week-end format (2 days every 2 weeks, on Friday and Saturdays), which can co-exist with professional commitments. I also chose ESSEC because if I was going to do this, I wanted a high-ranked school, and when I came to my first afterwork at ESSEC, I was blown away by how friendly and welcoming everyone was.


How did the EMBA help you professionally?

Michèle:I have recently changed jobs and my EMBA clearly helped. An EMBA sends a clear message: when you are in your 40s’, you are still in the game.


How did you manage to balance your professional and personal life with an EMBA?

Michèle: It’s a very difficult balance: my husband said he would help with anything during my studies, but you are still juggling work commitments, home commitments and studies.


Do you have any souvenirs, or “best moments” from the program?

Michèle: I have excellent memories of the Leadership Seminar, with officers from Saint Cyr where we were really challenged. The idea was to get our hands (but not only) dirty and '' handle the crisis'' as a leader within a group of peers. As one of the older members of the class, I was a little apprehensive thinking I might struggle, but there was a fantastic team spirit and it was amazing.


You will be graduating in December 2021, how was your academic experience considering the covid-19 pandemic?

Michèle: We haven’t been able to do the trips planned but I think it’s been as good as it can be, considering the context. The first day, I was just relieved that the program actually started, that it wasn’t postponed, that this one important project in my life was remaining '' normal''. We started on Zoom, and that was as good as it could be, but then we got the chance to get back into the classroom from July. Covid-19 has completely disrupted our lives - Our world has changed because of it, so it felt great that ESSEC was able to maintain the pedagogy throughout the pandemic.


Any advice you would give to future applicants?

Michèle: Go for it, and be very organized! 


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