The IAE Aix MBA alumni come from many different cultures and professional backgrounds, but they share the common experience of the MBA. See what some of our alumni have to say about their experience at IAE Aix and how it has changed their lives and opened new doors.
Sandrine Meunier (MBA CI 2000 – 2001)
Human Resources Director France Yves Saint Laurent
The MBA was definitely the right choice.
Could you summarize the benefit of your MBA in one word or one sentence?
First of all, the MBA CI taught me how to adopt a helicopter view – to go up the ladder of abstraction and see the big picture. Before taking any actions, I reflect on the implications and on the impact on the situation and the people involved. I learned to look at the overall situation, to understand change management globally. This has become a reflex in my professional life.
Before I enrolled in the MBA of IAE Aix, I worked as a Sales Engineer and had some experience in Human Resources, my initial education. I actually hesitated between the MBA CI and pursuing my studies in Human Resources. Change management was still quite unknown at that time (over 10 years ago), but for me it seemed a better strategy, as I’m convinced that change management is key to the success of any company.
What motivated you to choose an MBA focused on Change & Innovation?
When I was working as a Sales person, I experienced a lot of changes in the companies I worked for. All of them were poorly managed and led to a dramatic loss in performance. We are facing change all the time during our professional life: downsizing, M&A but also companies in growth. This seems less obvious, but a company experiencing a period of growth has to rethink its organization, implement new processes and reassure its employees who question themselves about new processes and the new management – it is critical to manage this period properly in order not to lose employees and talents. I acquired those essentials skills during my MBA.
How do classes link to real business situations?
I am currently Human Resources Director France of Yves Saint Laurent or rather Saint Laurent Paris, since the name changed recently.
I have 350 persons in my perimeter at the head office in Paris. It is a very composite population: designers, couturiers, accountants, marketing people…. I am also in charge of a garment factory outside of Paris which employs 120 workers. They are highly skilled people, and their “savoir-faire” is very rare. The average age of the employees is 52. As a consequence, the transfer of skills and preparation for retirement are two aspects we need to manage – delicate but essential for the survival of the factory.
I remember the courses on personal development that helped me to understand how the human being “functions” at work. More specifically, I understood how a person reacts when he or she is confronted with change and what can be done to best prepare and accompany the transitions any change implies. In addition we had different courses on operational strategy. Actually, during the MBA year, you don’t necessarily see the link between the large varieties of classes, but then, when you start working, the relationships between topics and classes become obvious.
Can you describe your career since you finished the MBA?
I was able to put into practice what I learned right after my MBA. I did my internship at FNAC (French bookstore and multimedia services leader, a subsidiary of PPR) with the HR director who had been lecturing during the MBA year. He offered me a position in Taiwan, where I had to manage a merger. I then worked for the same group, PPR (group Pinault Printemps Redoute), in Italy. Working and living abroad opens your mind and teaches you to be attentive and listening to the people around you – an attitude I learned during the MBA at IAE Aix. Ever since I came back to France, I also kept using my change management skills, applying them in the context of La Redoute transition from a historic cataloguer to an e-commerce leader, then in the fast growth times that Saint Laurent has enjoyed for the last few years.
The MBA was definitely the right choice. It is very well perceived by my professional surrounding and no doubt an asset for my career – also thanks to its focus on Change and Innovation.