Stéphane Egret: Packaging Innovator, Coca-Cola Company, Brussels
How did the SSE MBA programme change your life?
A year after graduating I changed jobs after having worked for the same company for eight years. I would have moved on, even without the MBA, but the programme helped me clarify what I wanted to do and what I did not want to do, what I liked about my job and what I disliked. It helped me put things in perspective.
I now work as a Packaging Innovator for the Coca-Cola Company where the key challenge is taking on a truly holistic approach; to understand and collaborate with a multitude of stakeholders within and even across different organizations.
I have always worked in the fast-moving consumer goods industry, which requires extremely fast decision making and an ability to constantly change and adapt. The SSE MBA cultivates such skills and the experience and learning from the programme have proved valuable in in this position.
What are the main strengths of the program?
The great mix of different people, professional backgrounds, approaches, opinions and cultures. Today's business world is truly diverse and international. Succeeding in this environment requires flexibility and an ability to understand and adapt to different circumstances.
My former employer greatly benefited from the ChangeLive project which involved the implementation of a new business process. The objective was to improve a specific aspect of the development of new products and the results have been significant; greatly reducing the level of complexity of this process.
What did you learn on a personal level?
While the program certainly taught me new skills, developed my expertise and gave me new tools, it also changed me as a person. I now have a different approach to what my professional life should bring.
Before, I thought the only way forward was to move up the corporate ladder and continue upwards. Today I know myself better; I know what I want and where I can add value. Becoming a manager is not a goal in itself to me anymore, although it may very well come as a side effect of my new professional path.
I've read somewhere that life begins where our comfort zone ends. Well, as a result of taking the program, I have become far more willing to step outside my comfort zone, even to the point of enjoying it. My former reluctance towards areas I was not familiar with has been replaced by a healthy curiosity for new things. And curiosity, to me, is the best engine when it comes to learning.
How did the program help trigger those changes?
Through its holistic character and the way it helps to integrate different dimensions of various issues and subjects. It makes you discover new areas of interest and uncover skills you did not know you had.
Before starting the program, you think you are going to learn things that will make you better at your current job – which you do – but it can also make you realise there are aspects of your job that are actually not what you want to do with your time. What you're good at may not always be what you want to do.
The program helped me see where I could add value and enjoy it at the same time.
What's your opinion on your fellow participants?
The participants were all highly motivated and passionate, which often led to animated discussions. After all, consensus was not our main objective. I also made new friends during the program and I hope we will remain friends for a long time.
What's your advice to future SSE MBA participants?
Don't just regard it as a source of theoretical knowledge – it's much more than that. It's an adventure so make sure you enjoy it. Time passes quickly, and once it's over you'll think it was too short.
The SSE MBA is one of those opportunities that only come around once, maybe twice, in a lifetime. Give it all you've got – it's worth it. You will be repaid for your efforts, no matter how much you put in.
I really miss the buzz, the interesting environment and stimulating people that the program brought into my life. Partly because of this, I am now considering a PhD in a couple of years, perhaps in innovation management. I want to find a new way to build on the development and experience that the SSE MBA program gave me.
Find out more about SSE MBA Executive Format here.
This article was produced by The Local and sponsored by the Stockholm School of Economics.