An Executive MBA: Empowering leaders to rise in Asia


Wesley Alves may possess the qualities of a good leader. Still, it was the ESSEC & Mannheim Executive MBA (EMBA) that helped him close the skill gaps, honed his understanding of Asia, and helped take his leadership skills to the next level.

When Wesley Alves was first offered the position as director of operations for French industrial company ARMOR in 2014, some warned him that it would be the biggest challenge in his career.

Fast-forward six years to today, Wesley has built a strong team that has stayed united through the pandemic. He has also risen to the ranks of VP and managing director, making him the most senior for the group in the region. 

His secret? “I don’t believe in management by fear,” Wesley declares. “A good leader needs to listen to people and create a safe space for them to speak.”

Wesley’s forthcoming nature and genuine desire to empower his team may have a lot to do with his success. Still, he is also quick to credit the ESSEC & Mannheim Executive MBA (EMBA) for equipping him with the necessary skills to translate his intentions into reality.

Lessons To Enhance One’s Business Acumen

He began his EMBA at ESSEC's Asia-Pacific campus in Singapore in 2016, intending to work towards the role of managing director at ARMOR.

“Since my experience had been more in industrial work, I thought there would be gaps to fill in areas like finance, marketing, or entrepreneurship,” he explains.

The ESSEC & Mannheim EMBA Asia-Pacific program helped him close the gap quickly: Modules on corporate finance and accounting built on his existing knowledge and boosted his confidence in handling financial matters. In areas he had zero experience in, like marketing, the EMBA offered actionable knowledge and new insights to take back to the office.

“Today, I am deeply involved with marketing activities across the region. The terms I learned in my EMBA and the subjects we approached have been fundamental in making me comfortable dealing with those subjects today,” Wesley shares.

But the learning didn’t stop there. Even in topics, Wesley thought he had expertise in, like Industry 4.0 processes, he found much to be gained.

An EMBA corporate visit to the VISA research and development center in Singapore, for instance, not only “offered an excellent perspective on how the future would look in terms of digitization” but also sparked the inspiration for new processes Wesley could implement at his own business.

“This just shows how useful the program can be, that even if you think you know something, there’s always a different perspective and a lot to learn if you go in with a humble mindset,” he says.

Developing New Frameworks and Networks

Wesley reiterates that having an attitude of openness is important for one to benefit from the ESSEC & Mannheim EMBA program. 

In his experience, it is a huge asset to have classmates from entirely different market segments and industries.

“They have a completely different way of looking at challenges and dealing with things. I learned that to acknowledge that I don’t know everything and that I need to ask for help sometimes,” he shares, adding that the network built serves him well even today — he can easily pick up the phone and ring a fellow ESSEC alumnus for advice.

Looking back at his journey, Wesley muses that “the EMBA will take you out of your comfort zone and challenge your status quo” — a process that is not easy but worth it.

“I can guarantee that the rewards the EMBA program gives as a leader are the equivalent of you advancing five or ten years in your career — far more than what you would ever learn on the job alone.”

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