The Mark of a Leader


Timothy Kooi, ESSEC & Mannheim Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) Asia-Pacific class of 2020, shares his perspective on why the EMBA is an asset for any seasoned professional.

There’s a world of difference between being a professional and being a manager. As a professional, you are measured by your skills and ability to perform. Do it faster, better, and the rewards are yours.

A good manager, however, is determined by the sum of the skills in the team. What they do now reflects on you.

“You need a more intentional approach to groom people, to build them and motivate them. Sometimes that means going slower now, so you can go faster later on,” Timothy Kooi shares.

As someone who struggled with the initial transition to leadership, it is with full conviction that he recommends others in his shoes to consider an EMBA.


To better understand the nuances of rapidly changing markets, Timothy enrolled in ESSEC Asia-Pacific with a desire to enhance his leadership abilities. He was also driven by the motivation that future career success would depend on his ability to negotiate, cultivate mindsets and convince people to change.

The ESSEC & Mannheim EMBA Asia-Pacific filled the gap for him as “It framed the HR strategies, showed the different models that companies use, and gave me an avenue to ask all the questions I needed,” he explains.

The learning has worked wonders for his role driving digital transformation — from handling advanced analytics and innovation in DHL to his current role as Business Unit Digital Manager at an American energy corporation.

Although businesses may be aware of the need for digitalization, it is still no mean feat to convince organizations — and people — who have been comfortable for years to move into a new, uncomfortable space.

Knowing how to answer questions like: “How do you inspire? How do you get people to learn? What motivates them and shifts that mindset?” has therefore been pivotal to his growth.


The beauty of the EMBA, he shares, is in its interactive nature. Unlike in a traditional classroom, the emphasis is on information synthesis, not download. Lessons are discussion-centric, with an abundance of opportunities to brainstorm and question.

Beyond helping him acquire new skills, this also challenged, and in turn, deepened his understanding of concepts like sustainability and geopolitics, all of which contribute to how he views business today.

Even areas like LEGO Serious Play, a problem-solving method he thought he was familiar with — in fact, he is trained to facilitate it — took on new dimensions when introduced in class.

“Watching the actual experts work, understanding the philosophy behind it, and being able to observe how people react and hear the questions they ask was valuable — it’s something you can’t find just by reading books,” he recalls.

Looking back at his EMBA journey, examples like this are aplenty. While there is no one defining lesson, it is the sum of these experiences, put together, that have transformed him into the manager he is today.

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

Please fill out the form on the right to receive by email the link to download the ESSEC & Mannheim Executive MBA Asia-Pacific brochure.


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