An Executive MBA: A Time to Refresh and Refocus


When the pandemic slowed down business growth and put a halt to work-related travel, Gerald Iannone, Class of 2020, leveraged the ESSEC & Mannheim Executive MBA (EMBA) Asia-Pacific track to refocus his career goals and find inspiration for the future.

2020 was a milestone year for Gerald Iannone. As the world struggled to adjust to the new normal, the Asia-Pacific Sales Director at Arjobex, a global leader in the manufacturing of synthetic paper, found his regular routine of traveling around Asia and Europe had come to a halt.

Grounded in one location and reaching the big 40, this motivated him to reflect on his career achievements and begin planning for the future.

“Because my product is related to plastic packaging, I was concerned about the environmental impact,” Gerald shares. He completed various online courses to learn more about the concepts like the circular economy but felt that these lacked the depth he required.

With more time on his hands and self-improvement at the forefront of his mind, he decided it was time to refresh his knowledge and upgrade his skills through an EMBA. 

ESSEC’s reputation as one of the top business schools in France appealed to him. The ESSEC & Mannheim EMBA curriculum, which focuses on the latest business trends like big data, value-creating innovation, and digital branding, convinced him that the program was something he “had to do”.

Looking back now, Gerald declares: “It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

Developing a Mindset for Disruption

Doing his EMBA taught him more about useful trends like the shift towards e-services. Learning about the different ways AI has been used also inspired him with ideas about how the new tools can transform the way his company functions.

Most importantly, he shares, “the EMBA opened my mind and helped me see things differently.”

He explains that pre-EMBA, he viewed development as growth. This would be driven and measured in terms of the number of products sold.

The EMBA reminded him to choose quality over quantity.

“I realized that we should focus on selling better—maybe less products but more sustainable ones with higher value,” he exclaims.

Translating Lessons Into Rewards

He notes that the rewards began to accrue almost immediately. For example, a finance project that was part of his curriculum turned into an opportunity for Gerald to develop a business plan he could use in real life to set up a new plant in India.

The collaborative classroom environment also reinforced the importance of considering stakeholders across the entire ecosystem—including the government, consumers, and brand owners, just to name a few, when brainstorming for new ideas.

“This is the best way to identify trends and develop new businesses,” he affirms, adding that his new, more collaborative approach enabled his sales manager in India to come up with new ideas on how to approach the market better.

An Experience of a Lifetime

Looking back today at his year of accomplishments, Gerald admits that it was not easy. “You need to be quite well-organized and dedicate time for your work and life,” he muses.

Yet, he recognizes that the experience is “very different from when you are studying in your early twenties.” The discussions he had and the networks built with a diverse group of people and professionals made it all worth it.

For those contemplating embarking on their own EMBA journey, he says: “I can only tell them one thing: You will not be disappointed.”

Interested in the ESSEC & Mannheim Executive MBA Asia-Pacific program? 

Find out more HERE or email us at 

Help Me Choose a program