Breaking Through Roadblocks To Find Opportunities for Growth


How An Executive MBA Helped One Man Break Through Roadblocks To Find Opportunities for Growth

Faced with a career setback, James Ching turned to the ESSEC & Mannheim Executive MBA (EMBA) to reverse his fortunes. He shares how ESSEC Asia-Pacific helped him refocus his perspective and thrive in a Fortune 500 company.

For almost two decades of his career, James Ching strove to make his mark in the realm of education and training. His work brought him from Singapore to Beijing, New York, and Denmark, building his portfolio of notable projects like training 100,000 teachers in China in STEM methodologies and supporting the launch of the international trading institute for one of the leading universities in Singapore.

Accomplishments aside, he felt something was amiss. “I was also keenly aware that I had built my experience in a limited range of industries, and I wanted to learn how other industries tackle their challenges,” he recalls.

Push came to shove when he was retrenched at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Noting that the job market would be exceptionally challenging for PMETs like himself in their forties, he took the plunge back into school with the ESSEC & Mannheim Executive MBA (EMBA).

Within months of starting the program, James secured a role as Director of Sales Operations Asia-Pacific at human resources provider The Adecco Group—an achievement that in many ways, is credited to ESSEC Asia-Pacific.

Refocusing With Career Services Support

The ESSEC career services team was particularly supportive, James recalls, explaining that he reached out to the head of career services, who offered practical advice on how to improve his curriculum vitae and job search strategy.

All EMBA participants are also given access to sessions with an executive coach, who was “extremely helpful and made an effort to understand us as individuals before launching into any explanation of what our personality or work style assessment reports said,” he says.

These sessions helped James better understand his goals, and held him accountable to his career action plan—ultimately speeding up his job search.

Taking Lessons From the Classroom Straight to the Real World

ESSEC’s strong brand name also played a part: As The Adecco Group itself has strong French roots, simply being from ESSEC made James a more attractive candidate.

James believes the reason for this boils down to how the ESSEC EMBA curriculum can help one better understand French culture. “The way my colleagues react to various situations is very similar to how the French professors interact with us in class,” he shares, explaining that these experiences prepared him well to handle his new work environment.

Besides this, many of the case studies covered throughout the course of the EMBA curriculum also revolved around customers that The Adecco Group serves. Excitedly, he shares: “It is fantastic to be able to engage my customers and talk about their business based on the topics we discussed in class!”

Gaining a Bird’s-Eye View of Business

His new role aside, James muses that the biggest takeaway to date is actually how the EMBA has helped him better understand the business landscape.

This is in part because the diverse backgrounds of EMBA participants helped him understand how people in different sectors and roles may tackle the same problem. But it is also because of how the EMBA modules constantly challenged him to think outside of his comfort zone, question the reason behind each action taken, and search for ways to improve.

“We were forced to think one or two grades above our current job roles, so we could consider the big picture and the complexities that our own managers might face,” he says, adding: “With this training, we will never view the same challenges at work the same way. We’ll have more opportunities to work with our colleagues and devise new solutions simply because we better understand how they operate.”

This may be the greatest benefit of an EMBA yet: That one doesn't just leave with the skills to do business today, but with the right mindset to tackle the future.

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