M.S. in Commerce 2010 (Marketing & Track), University of Virginia
Master’s in Economics & Finance 2009, Sciences Po
Now: Carrefour, Director of Commercial Development, Fresh Products
Leveraging liberal arts with business
Before enrolling in McIntire’s M.S. in Commerce Program, I had a highly theoretical academic background in economics. Although I loved my time at Sciences Po, in Paris, I sought a more heuristic educational experience that would allow me to apply the many abstract principles I had already learned to lessons in a business context. I wanted to take my academic knowledge to a more practical, skill-oriented program, and the M.S. in Commerce Program allowed me to do just that.
Not only did I find value in combining the academic lessons of two different programs, I also greatly benefited from an American educational experience that exposed me to a new culture of learning. At French universities, the student-teacher relationship is much more formal than what I found at McIntire, where class participation in the form of discussion is roughly 30% of each class grade.
The classroom discussions not only helped me learn experientially but also helped me learn English! Some of the greatest practical tests of my English-speaking skills came during presentation time. As all M.S. in Commerce students—especially Marketing & Management students—know, this program emphasizes making presentations in order to prepare us for the professional business environment. The program was so great because it taught us how to grow as professionals. It was a time to be a professional before working.
Most memorable cultural experience
Every day in Charlottesville was a global immersion experience for me, a young French man! As for my M.S. in Commerce Global Immersion Experience, I chose the East Asia track, visiting Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. That trip to China, in addition to my time in America, provided me invaluable lessons about interacting in a global environment.
One cultural memory that stands out in particular is the day Professor Trey Maxham took my classmates and me to the garment and fabric district in Shanghai. Professor Maxham had visited a tailor in the district and shared with the students his experience of having a custom suit made. This day was such a treat—choosing which fabrics to use, making sure the measurements were just right, the excitement of having my first custom professional outfit. The experience also provided me with one of my first experiences in international negotiations—a skill I practice frequently at Carrefour.
Life after graduate business school
After the M.S. in Commerce Program, I had the opportunity to work professionally in the United States. For about a year, I worked for SuperShuttle, a shared-transportation service, in D.C. When my visa ended, I returned to France and spent another year in school at HEC before joining Carrefour, which I chose because I was interested in retail and eager to work for a large French company, and because I was accepted to its graduate program, which allowed me to rotate through several positions over the course of a few years. I spent some time at Carrefour headquarters, sourcing for houseware products, I led a project for private labels in Spain, and then I got store experience as Director in training for 18 months. At that time the, CEO of the Hypermarkets business unit asked me to join his team as Chief of Staff. For another 18 months, I worked with very different people on numerous strategic projects, and was involved in lots of governance meetings. After such an enriching period, I was appointed Director of Commercial Development for Fresh Products, which is at the center of the company's differentiation strategy and quest for amazing customer experience.
Advice for future students
To students looking for international careers, start your research now. Make sure you know what kind of lifestyle, culture, industry, company, and role you want most, because all of it comes with that job.
Favorite Charlottesville activity
Bodo’s was my favorite spot on weekend mornings, and for lunch, Lemongrass. Himalayan Fusion is the best Downtown dinner, and Christian’s Pizza can’t be beat late on Saturday night.