What was your undergraduate university and major?

I have an MSc in mechanical engineering from the Ecole Polytechnique (Paris, France) and another MSc in aerospace engineering from Supaéro (Toulouse, France).

Why did you decide to apply to HBS via the 2+2 deferred admissions process?

While my background offered me one of the best training programs in engineering, I knew I would need to add an MBA to my courses to be a leader in the aerospace industry. The French education system separates the management and business track from the engineering track. When I heard about the 2+2 program, I did not hesitate one second and applied immediately. I felt that it would be much tougher to find time and availability to apply during my professional years.

How long was your deferral (2, 3, or 4 years)?

I deferred 2 years. It was the best timing for me and my wife to quit our jobs and to immigrate to the US.

Did 2+2 change your path or alter your post-undergraduate plans?

No, I stuck to my original plans. However, the 2+2 program gave me the self-confidence to take more risks on my first assignment as a project manager. The French manufacturing industry is very conservative from an HR perspective, and many people believe that you should wait a few years before trying to challenge the status quo. Doing so too early might cost you a promotion or a raise. Knowing that my next career move was an MBA, I felt confident to voice my opinions and offer suggestions on how to improve our operations. In the end, my supervisors bought in and I was allowed to implement my suggestions. I definitely would not have had the courage to take these risks without the 2+2 safety net!

Where are you currently working? Can you describe your role?

I am back in the aerospace industry working near Paris for Thales in the civil radar division. I am leading the Bid & Project Management Office that helps run operations and improve competitiveness. It allows me to interact with a wide range of people (from the entry-level workers to General Managers) and I love the diversity of challenges this position offers.

What projects/roles/opportunities did you pursue during or after the 2+2 Program?

The 2+2 program encouraged me to pursue my mentoring activities. During my college years and during my first position, I always tried to mentor people (high school students during college and apprentices during my first professional years). I quickly realized the impact mentoring could have on people. Thanks to HBS, I improved my mentoring skills, and I am now trying to mentor even more people in my organization. I have just launched a small-scale mentoring program, and it will be a great opportunity for both the mentees and me to learn from each other!

What impact has HBS had on your career?

The value of my HBS MBA is mainly the personal growth it allowed me to have (and it was gigantic!).

The biggest impact HBS had on me was to greatly develop my listening skills. Thanks to the case method, I completely re-learned how to listen to people and understand their arguments. In the case method, everybody has to get in; you do not get to speak very often (once every three class on average). Therefore, you learn the value of listening and trying to get the most out of what the people are saying. These skills prove essential when I try to sketch new processes and new ways of working in my current role because I have to take into account every idea, opinion, and need on subjects in which I have little knowledge or experience.

Are you still in touch with your fellow HBS students/section mates?

Of course! Mainly over WhatsApp.

What is the most inspiring/exciting project or opportunity you have worked on?

At the end of 2019, half of my team decided to leave for various reasons (personal, retirement, professional, etc.). I had to do a complete team re-launch: redesign the org chart, draft new roles, hire new people and ensure a great onboarding experience after only a few months into the job!

It was the greatest experience I have had so far. I had the opportunity to re-think how we were working, what the most essential tasks were, and how to streamline our workflow. In the past, I have often been frustrated with how things were designed and for the first time I had the opportunity to do it myself!

In the end, because of the COVID crisis, I had to make modifications to my plans and it took me almost a year to implement the changes. But I am quite satisfied with the end result, even if they still are things to improve!

In addition, I could not have done it without the skills I have acquired at HBS (especially thanks to the LEAD and LEAP courses).

What advice do you have for prospects considering the 2+2 program?

First, you should clearly identify why you are looking for an MBA. What are the deep personal reasons that makes you want to pursue an HBS MBA? What set of skills are you looking to acquire that you can’t have in your college experience? Such an experience should be a gift to yourself with a 2 year delay. Second, an HBS MBA is not a standard MBA. You should be ready to embark on a personal journey. HBS transformed me in so many ways and if you want to take the most out of HBS, you should be ready to profoundly change. Reading personal development or change management articles (such as HBR) can be very useful to test whether or not you are ready for such a journey.

Read more 2+2 Where Are They Now blogs.