At 30 or 40 years old, resume studies to “broaden the field of possibilities”

The day Thibault Ponthier is getting married, he knows that guests will come from all over the world and that fellow students from the 2020 Harvard Master of Business Administration (MBA) class will make the trip. The happy event is irrelevant, but the 32-year-old uses this formula to prove that his recent degree in the prestigious business school American brought him much more than knowledge. His MBA is also “Strong friendships”. An international network.

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Despite a return to France precipitated by the Covid-19 pandemic and a thwarted business creation project, the Corrézien keeps an enchanted memory of his stay across the Atlantic. After six years spent with the head in the handlebars in the direction of the family SME specializing in fruit processing, Thibault and his relatives sold the business. Enough to give him the time and the finances (tuition fees: 130,000 euros for two years) to fly to one of the most famous masters in the world. “I saw it as a magnificent passport for the international, he explains enthusiastically. On a human level, it was an extraordinary opportunity to be able to reflect on myself and my career for two years. How many times do you have the opportunity to do this in your life? “ Since his return, he has returned to studies by following a course in oenology and viticulture to realize his dream: to buy a wine estate in the south of France. “Without the MBA, I wouldn’t have allowed myself to do it. But self-confidence is contagious. “

Inner fulfillment

Thibault is not the only former MBA student to hold a speech where the personal and professional benefits of resuming studies merge. The testimonies of his counterparts have accents of travelogues. “I had the feeling of learning things about my functioning that I would never have been able to grasp by remaining in my daily work”, says Carolina Schmollgruber, communications manager for the Lancôme brand within the L’Oréal group, which has just completed a year and a half – almost two because of the pandemic – of Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) on the campus of HEC in Yvelines. The 40-year-old embarked on this project to challenge herself. “I wanted to broaden my field of possibilities”, she says. She convinces her employer to finance this training for her, which she conducts in parallel with her job and her family life. Months as intense as they are enriching. “We leave the operational for knowledge, we seek to do more, to excel. We are again opening books on economics and that feels good ”, says Carolina, who also feels that she does not “Gives off the same thing in [sa] box “.

“From now on, we hear about a vision of existence, of commitment. »Andrea Masini, deputy director of the HEC MBA

The programs of these MBA and EMBA may well include case studies, concrete situations, coaching and concepts to learn – without the slightest passage on the couch of an analyst – the development of participants seems just as interior as professional. Andrea Masini, deputy director of the HEC MBA, has seen hundreds of profiles like Carolina’s. From his office, he measures the evolution of the expectations and career paths of executives who are temporarily returning to school benches. “Ten years ago, the challenge of a master’s degree in management was to double your salary. Now we hear about a vision of existence, of commitment. The MBA allows you to change function or sector of activity, but also to enrich oneself in human terms and to transform. “

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Matthieu Pouget-Abadie often thinks back to what his education at the European Institute of Business Administration (Insead), in 2014, changed in the course of his existence. First thing, and not the least: he met his wife there. The story doesn’t say if there were a lot of ex-classmates at the wedding, but it is likely. Before resuming his studies, this Sciences Po Paris graduate worked in consulting and did not really like it. Today at the head of the marketing of the online training platform OpenClassrooms, he feels solid on his support.

“I gained a feeling of legitimacy there, he says in a quiet voice. I’m no longer afraid to pick up my phone to call a CEO [directeur général]. » He remembers with amusement the day when he, a fresh thirty-something and neo-student, had the opportunity to have lunch with Yves Carcelle, ex-CEO of Louis Vuitton and former of Insead, who died shortly after. A striking encounter that only attending a renowned school allows. “With such a label on the CV, people are more willing to give you time or add you on LinkedIn,” sums up Carole-Anne Bassignot, consultant at RH Partners. On Matthieu Pouget-Abadie’s LinkedIn and Facebook accounts, Insead alumni are present and active. “I can call twenty people if I have a very concrete management problem to solve, he exposes. And I have kept close ties with a dozen others that I see once a year, and with whom we talk about projects and career prospects. It is more useful than former Sciences Po alumni who have all taken different paths. “

A very expensive sesame

To meet oneself and to meet one’s peers: would that be the recipe for a successful MBA? The creation of a network is one of the major assets of resuming studies. “I do a job of connections, advance Anne-Claire Bootz, former of the EMBA of Essec (class of 2015). At the time, I was working in a firm that was thinking about hotel construction opportunities. My time at Essec allowed me to better understand my professional sector and to strengthen my knowledge of key players. “ A few months after obtaining her EMBA, she landed a position within a hotel group where she was responsible for the development of new places. Professional development coupled with a 30% salary gain. Salary progression is perhaps no longer part of the motivations displayed, but it remains, despite everything, a horizon desired by many candidates.

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“At the exit, it is not necessarily the royal road. We are seen as expensive and we often have a loan to repay. »Matthieu Pouget-Abadie, former MBA at Insead

But beware of hopes uncorrelated from reality. “If you put yourself in your head to do an MBA to earn more or because it looks nice in your track record, it is useless”, warns Anne-Charlotte Caudy, senior partner in the HR division of Michael Page. Especially since obtaining sesame is very expensive: 76,000 euros for an MBA from HEC. An investment in oneself which, in addition, does not systematically pay off. “At the exit, it is not necessarily the royal road, we are perceived as dear by the employers. And, in addition, we often have a loan to repay “, Matthieu Pouget-Abadie analysis. Anne-Charlotte Caudy continues: “Obtaining a master’s degree is not intended to increase the value of a candidate mechanically. But as it brings a better knowledge of oneself and of what one is worth, it can have beneficial effects. “

Renewed optimism

Florian Faucher, 31, finished his MBA at HEC in December 2020. He doesn’t expect to make a fortune in the coming year. “I make a good living as a consultant, but I know that, anyway, no return on investment will be made immediately. We’ll see in ten years. “ It matures its trajectory over the long term. “I want to work in luxury or the spirits business, and I lack experience. Thanks to the MBA, I was able to refine my strategy and my ease ”, he welcomes, while specifying all the same that, if he had done a business school and not a master’s degree in computer science, he would not have gone through the MBA box.

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Elisa Dierickx has also chosen to resume her studies to add strings to her bow, although it is well supplied. After studying biology, a doctorate in zoology and the creation of an environmental NGO, the 32-year-old woman wanted to act even more for the planet. “I wanted to be at the interface between nature protection and business, at the heart of decisions. And for that, I needed in-depth knowledge of the subject and a better vision of possible positions ”, details the new MBA graduate from Insead.

Two comrades tell him about a consulting firm, Systemiq, which helps large companies and states improve their actions to become fully sustainable. She sends an unsolicited application and obtains a position, which she has held since mid-October. “This MBA brought me a lot of hope and motivation, she explains. I think I can make a real difference, whereas before I was more pessimistic. “ A renewed optimism also felt by Carolina Schmollgruber, still at L’Oréal. “This experience gave me new impetus for the next ten years. “

MBA, instructions for use

MBA. The core target: executives aged 25 to 35. Objective: in one full-time year (or two years in the United States), the aim is to acquire or update knowledge in all areas of management, build a network, develop leadership. And so aim for managerial positions or create a business.
Executive MBA. These training courses are intended for slightly older executives (30 to 45 years old) and take place on a part-time basis. They are spread over one to two years. In particular, they allow you to grow within your company.
Specialized MBA. These are one-year training courses devoted to one area (wine, luxury, supply chain management, etc.), particularly for executives who want to change sectors.

“Le Monde” is organizing its MBA and Masters fair on Saturday November 27, 2021 for executives wishing to reorient themselves or progress in their careers. Access is free, with online registration.