How an EMBA shaped me to become an entrepreneur during a once-in-a-lifetime crisis
Prior to joining Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business Executive MBA programme, Helene Marange, EMBA Class of 2021, worked as an HR coordinator at Gastronomia Aliments Fins/Cool&Simple. She worked in several positions for this company and completed a DESS at HEC Montreal in 2016. In June 2019, she joined the Board of the Quebec Society of Schizophrenia, where she is responsible for the funding committee. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she decided to join a start-up called Hakcess, where she now handles operations and marketing.
How did you decide to pursue an EMBA degree programme?
I wanted to bring my career to the next level and was thinking of doing an MBA. Finally, it was the EMBA that came to me. The Assistant Director of the programme contacted me via LinkedIn and introduced me to the EMBA programme, which was a perfect match. I am passionate about acquiring general business knowledge and I was interested in entrepreneurship.
What were the most important aspects you considered when choosing the programme and the business school/university?
The first criterion I looked at was that the EMBA had to be in English. I was not completely bilingual prior to this programme, but the John Molson professors and administration were completely supportive when it came to my level of English. The collaborative spirit and solidarity I felt in the cohort helped me considerably improve my English skills. Secondly, John Molson School of Business has an international reputation when it comes to quality of education and the school always selects its professors carefully. Even with the pandemic, our professors were able to adapt their courses accordingly. Lastly, I took into consideration the accessibility of this EMBA in comparison to other schools. I compared the price, the high teaching quality and the school’s reputation.
What was your most valuable experience during your studies?
During our second year, we had the opportunity to work on a new venture project. The study group that I had been paired with for almost two years had worked well together and decided to use this moment of inspiration to launch our own ‘new venture’. I am glad to have had the chance to be a part of this amazing first experience as an entrepreneur.
Do you feel that your EMBA programme made it possible for you to thrive in an ever-changing business world, particularly post-covid-19, and why?
This EMBA programme taught us a lot of new business trends and modern ways of thinking, so it certainly helped bring awareness to the fact that adaptation is crucial. It also taught us how to navigate through these changing times. Our initial trip to Japan and Cambodia was unfortunately cancelled but the administration managed to introduce and put more focus on creating a business case for surviving and developing opportunities through a pandemic, which compensated for the situation at the time. Through online conferences, we were presented with a diversity of companies from different industries, who spoke about their own experience during COVID-19. It gave us a general view of the situation, what could be done and how to thrive. It put forward outside perspectives and an out-of-the-box way of thinking to maintain a motivated, collaborative and determined spirit when new challenges arise.
How would you describe the learning environment (academic, extracurricular, services) at the John Molson School of Business?
I was warmly welcomed to my first semester at John Molson. The classes were interactive and the school provided several facilities and services such as access to the gym, conference room, etc. Even food and snacks were provided! Into the second half of the semester, COVID-19 happened. It was a completely new experience for everyone. The university adapted quickly to this change. The administration kept us regularly updated on possible changes while communicating with us individually to see how the situation was affecting us academically and personally. Although difficult decisions had to be made, the professors were patient, understanding and perceptive with regard to the new situations that the students were facing. While I was a student at John Molson School of Business, the coaching service really fostered my growth and the thoughtful gifts we received added a personal touch to the online experience.
Do you feel satisfied with your investment? What has the EMBA programme given you?
The John Molson EMBA has helped strengthen my inner development. I am grateful for the experience and the teaching from my peers and professors. This EMBA has provided me with the perfect tools to move forward confidently in all future projects. The overall atmosphere nourished and encouraged everyone’s thoughts, ideas, opinions and curiosity. A memorable chapter has come to end and I could not thank everyone I had the opportunity to work with enough. I am delighted with the outcome and to be a part of such a collaborative cohort.