The new academic year brings with it a brand new edition of The Mag!
In this month of September, as Audencia reopens its doors to welcome students, the Alumni Center is delighted to bring you the latest issue of our e-Magazine. We’d like to extend our warmest wishes to you all for a successful beginning to this new academic year, after such a well-deserved summer break.
Many of you will undoubtedly have seen your plans put on hold and disrupted during these unusual times. This summer, a great many of you opted for a staycation here in France with some of you deciding to stay local. With this in mind, we were thinking you might appreciate the chance to get away from it all and so, for this back-to-school issue, we’ve chosen to bring the world to you. Make yourself comfortable and enjoy reading through this 14th edition of The Mag.
P.S. There’s no need to pack a suitcase, simply grab yourself a cup of your favourite beverage and let us take care of the rest, as we take you on a guided tour around the world.
Lauranne Héaumé, on behalf of the Alumni Center
Following on from the Netherlands, England and Spain, this renowned theme park nestled in the heart of the Vendée region of Western France is now looking to make its artistic mark in China. Corentin de Gastines (GE 16), Head of Finance at Puy du Fou, gives us the lowdown on the park’s strategy for international development.
It has gone from being a community-based project in the Vendée to seeing its concept rolled out across the world. In 40 years, the Puy du Fou has come up with the necessary resources to successfully replicate its business model while adapting it to fit other locations. Indeed, for the past five years the brand has been working towards its goal of becoming a global brand. This well-known amusement park has established itself as a second-to-none tourist destination, employing with a workforce of around 3,000 in France and abroad while generating an overall turnover of 120 million euros. International business now accounts for 10% of revenue and remains the brand’s main growth driver.
At the foot of the great wall
It was actually in the Netherlands back in 2013, that the Puy du Fou would take its first steps over the French border, with its show written especially for the Efteling theme park, before going on to take the concept over the Channel to England in 2016. The next step: Spain where the park’s opening has been announced for April 2021. Now the time has come for the brand to win over the Asian market as it develops a new project, scheduled due to be rolled out by 2025.
“We’ve come good and landed the Great Wall of China”, Corentin explains. Last August, at the age of 32, he upped sticks and moved there to help bring this project, with an estimated value of 230 million euros, to fruition. He adds: “China is an economic area of particular interest which boasts a tremendously long and rich history and is currently undergoing significant diversification in terms of its growth.” As each country has its own unique codes of practice, the Puy du Fou is being supported by a local team of 40 people.
Qinhuangdao, based in the North-East, will provide the setting for the spectacular night-time show, inspired by Chinese culture and based on the French model of the Cinescenie show, a festival of lights extravaganza. The gallery for spectators has a seating capacity of 8,000 (double the size of the site in Spain).
“In the first year, we are looking to put on a total of 70 summer performances and then work our way up to putting on upwards of 100 shows over time, catering for somewhere between 500,000 to 800,000 potential visitors.”
This initial phase of the project will also include a themed hotel, a huge restaurant providing entertainment for diners, and an historical village. At a later stage, we are planning to open an historical re-enactment park on the site, similar to the one at the Vendée site.
In its pursuit to conquer the globe, the Puy du Fou is setting its sights even higher. Three further projects are likely to see the light of day between now and 2030 in both Asia and Europe. This will provide them with a golden opportunity to fly ever higher their French flagship brand of live entertainment.
Florence Falvy, Editor
France is the world’s most popular tourist destination and it relies on a highly performant effective tool, Atout France, France’s national tourism development agency. Spotlight on the Mexican branch, headed up by Mélanie Belin (GE 08).
Its history goes back to the 19th century Haute-Saône department of France where, many years ago, the inhabitants of this small village decided to emigrate to Mexico, settling in the state of Veracruz. A century later and Mélanie Belin, one of their distant descendants, would herself follow in their footsteps, taking up the same journey to the other side of the Atlantic.
“I really wanted to get to know Mexico and the history of these ancestors who had set off in search of a better life,” says Mélanie who, after leaving Audencia, would go on to make frequent visits to Mexico before eventually settling down there after meeting her husband-to-be, a Mexican of course.
A love affair ensued therefore with this vast Spanish-speaking nation in North America. Mélanie initially held a number of various posts before joining the Mexican branch of Atout France in 2012, making her way up from communications manager to director.
“Atout France has 32 offices in 29 countries,” Mélanie adds, eager to highlight the fact that the Mexican branch, inaugurated in 2008, conveys a particularly positive image of France in the eyes of Mexicans. “Our mission is to promote all France has to offer as an international tourist destination. In fact, Mexico represents a high-potential market for France as a travel destination. If wealthy customers have our country in their sights, then it follows that the idea of visiting our country also stands to appeal to those in the emerging middle class too.”
In their day-to-day work, Mélanie and her two colleagues juggle their time between two main promotional activities: B2B and B2C. The first business domain entails providing useful information for travel agencies, tour operators and other online sales websites, with this group of professionals likely to bring business their way as they in turn offer package and tailor-made tours to their own customer base. Atout France provides training, facilitates contacts with service providers and also takes part in trade shows. Regarding the second business area, the main focus of attention here is on the traveller.
“The end-user is increasingly self-sufficient and doesn’t necessarily book up through a travel agency,” Mélanie explains. “We are trying to attract the biggest players from influential Mexican media by enabling them to get a taste of France for themselves, so that they can then pass on this experience via their own media. We communicate right across the France.fr digital ecosystem (via France’s social media, newsletters and official internet website). By hook or by crook, our aim is to get the message of everything France has to offer as a tourist destination clearly out there.”
Guy-Pierre Chomette, Editor
Originally from Cuba, Krysna Sorell spent three months at Audencia within the framework of an international master’s degree. As the very first Cuban to attend the school, she fully intended making the most of her time here and hoping it will prove to be a new turning point in her career in tourism.
At the age of 32, you already boast an outstanding career path in the Cuban tourist trade. Could you take us through some of your career milestones?
Krysna Sorell: After studying IT, I completed my internship and began my professional life working for one of Cuba’s leading travel agencies, Viajes Cubanacan, which is part of the Cuban Ministry for Tourism. Little by little, I became increasingly interested in tourism, to the point where I decided to enrol on a master in tourism management at the university of Havana, while still continuing to work full time. I became an accounts manager, in charge of promoting Cuba as a tourist destination for French-speaking professionals in the tourist trade. Then, I went on to join the team at Cuba Autrement, a French travel agency which has been established in Havana for the past 20 years. It offers highly original, tailored programmes, a far cry from those usually seen in mass tourism.
Is working for an overseas agency in Cuba very different to working for a local agency?
Krysna Sorell: Inevitably, there are some differences, but they remain marginal. The international travel agencies operating in the area must be affiliated to one of our Cuban travel agencies. The Cuban agency and the overseas agency are in joint charge of the handling and delivery of the trip. I remained part of the Cuba Autrement team for around three years and was really happy there. Nevertheless, I wanted to broaden my knowledge on how businesses operate both in general and also in the non-Cuban tourist sector. That’s why I left Cuba to pursue this international master. It covers all corporate domains: finance, marketing, sales, strategy, etc. A lot of things are new to me, especially everything that touches on corporate strategy.
Will you be returning to Cuba after your master’s degree or are you looking to spend a few years abroad?
Krysna Sorell: Given the way Cuban businesses operate, I wouldn’t really be in a position to apply what I’ve learned during this Master. There aren’t really any strategy or marketing related professions to speak of. We don’t really have any notions of market segment or competition either. I’d much rather be able to apply what I’ve learned and specifically gain some professional international experience.
How was 2020 been for your?
Krysna Sorell: My degree, the European and International Business Management Master, is a one-year course with study periods in 3 different countries (France, Spain and the UK). After Audencia, I took one of the last direct flights from Nantes to Bilbao to continue my studies there. For me, lockdown was in Bilbao, with the last classes taking place online. I had initially planned to visit Cuba over the summer, but unfortunately Havana remains closed due to the pandemic. So I decided to stay in Bilbao for a while, until everything gets back to normal in the world. Maybe then I will decide to change directions, or maybe not! In the meantime, I'm working in a fashion company, as part of the customer service team for the French-speaking market.
Guy-Pierre Chomette, Editor
Summer 2020, with its unique feel and tight border restrictions, will be one in which local tourism and the rediscovery of France have featured heavily. Late June saw 86% of French people contemplating a staycation, compared with 75% back in 2019. Therefore, the regions set to working out how to entice these new holidaymakers, whilst adhering to the best possible sanitary conditions.
With #MySummerInNantes, there was no need for the city of Nantes to reinvent itself. The onus was firmly placed on its outdoor activities and street performances, organising smaller micro-gatherings for events, which already feature highly on the list of what appeals most to the city’s summer visitors.
Since 2012, Le Voyage à Nantes (“The Trail”, a self-guided walking tour) “has invited visitors on an exploration of the city, discovering anything from a work of art that jumps out at you as you turn a street corner, to spotting a remarkable piece of heritage.” By following the green line painted on the ground, this year you could discover Rideau (“Curtain”), a massive waterfall designed by Stéphane Thidet, covering the façade of the Graslin Theatre, which has continued to enchant onlookers, as has Philippe Ramette’s impertinent Éloge de la Transgression sculpture, depicting a schoolgirl climbing on to an empty pedestal in Cours Cambronne.
Émilie Pietras (GE 15) has certainly made the most of this year’s Trail, especially as she missed out on her summer break, following a job change at the start of lockdown.
“I took great pleasure in visiting the sites of The Trail last year, during an evening inter-school event organised by Audencia Alumni, which I truly enjoyed especially as I got to meet some great people. I was highly impressed by the number of people involved in the Trail. It’s incredible to experience this one-of-a-kind event.”
After starting out her career in the Paris region, this young woman, originally from the Oise area of France, finally moved back to Nantes three years ago. The Cité des Ducs district of Nantes, which she discovered on the day of the Audencia oral exams, immediately won her over. The quality of life there, the way nature has been integrated into the city, along with the many cultural events on offer, enjoyed during her time at the school, inspired her to jump at the first opportunity of moving back.
“Nantes is a much less stressful city to live in than Paris, but it’s also a really vibrant place when it comes to the job market, with lots of cultural offerings too which are second to none and extremely affordable. When I have friends or family over to stay, we generally head out to the seaside but we always make a point of visiting the town centre, the Machines on the Ile de Nantes as well as Passage Pommeraye. The biggest draw here in Nantes, is the fact that it’s a city just a stone’s throw from the sea.” Émilie explains.
This summer, she especially got to make the most of her time spent jogging and kayaking down at the river Erdre.
“Now lockdown’s over, it’s so important to get back out in the fresh air. I love the connection here in Nantes to the river and nature. I’ve certainly made the most of all the great things this city has to offer.”
Florence Alix-Gravellier, Editor
In September 2020, Audencia opens a new campus at La Roche-sur-Yon, with its two new bachelor’s and master’s courses at the heart of an extremely vibrant ecosystem in the Vendée region of France.
Audencia’s extensive portfolio of programmes already provides a rich array of study tracks, with over 30 pathways in management and communication, with degrees ranging from bachelor to doctoral level. It is now going one step further with the opening of this new Vendée campus, where over the next three years it is set to welcome 200 students.
ParcourSup has been inundated with pre-registrations, demonstrating a strong interest for this new bachelor’s degree which is the culmination of the local players’ ambition to enhance the provision of higher education in a region displaying huge economic scope, particularly in the open-air hospitality sector. The Vendée Chamber of Commerce has entrusted Audencia to conduct this project, as much for the quality of its courses as its close proximity to the territories where it is present.
The Audencia bachelor’s degree, earned after three years of study at the City Campus in Nantes, has proved extremely successful for many years. Student intake has doubled, as the course remains ever popular with students and their families alike due to the appealing nature of its twofold opportunity of direct entry into the professional world while also acquiring a higher education (70% of graduates go on to study for a master’s degree).
“The programme appeals to very young students who are still undecided when it comes to which career path to choose, and who have a pragmatic and sensible outlook. The basic idea here is to very quickly make the transition from theory to practice. For instance, our students conduct real market studies.” explains Guy Gascoin, Director of the Bachelor Programme at Audencia.
Audencia is looking to build on the key strengths underpinning the success of the bachelor programme in Nantes, so as to forge a common core curriculum in the Vendée, with a third-year specialisation centred around tourism. There will also be guaranteed pathways between the two campuses, enabling students to get onto their business profession of choice. In addition to Audencia’s faculty teaching staff, courses will be taught by professionals, thereby helping to obtain a strong regional and economic foothold. Thus, our entire Audencia community, with graduates at the helm, is busy getting mobilised to ensure the success of this new programme.
“We are calling on alumni, especially those who know the Vendée territory well and also those who work in tourism. Supporting the bachelor’s degree, with some great internship opportunities and advice from professionals, will constitute a key pillar of its success.” Guy Gascoin concludes.
In parallel to the bachelor’s degree, Audencia is gearing up to roll out its master’s degree at the Vendée campus, with its major in family business and entrepreneurship, a specialisation in which the School has developed considerable expertise over recent years.
Florence Alix-Gravellier, Editor
“We’ll never go back to the world we knew before. We’ve demonstrated our ability to adapt which in turn has opened up new ways of doing things. Teaching methods have evolved and are now here to stay,” explained Audencia’s Associate Dean for Faculty & Research André Sobczak in the run-up to summer.
As students are returning to campus and complying to strict health protocols, Valérie Claude-Gaudillat, Innovation Director at the school, is beginning to see the first stirrings of concern when faced with the dragging uncertainties of a future that is not yet clear.
“Responding to emergencies and coming up with solutions is one thing. Living through this in-between period, with no possibility of testing things out over a controlled length of time is another thing entirely”, Valérie points out. She herself still surfing on the adrenaline rush due to the 100% remote-learning switchover, which took just a few days to roll out at the start of lockdown.
There is an immense sense of excitement and professional pride as the emergency teaching methods rushed in have received a favourable response from students.
Although the Audencia learning model is based on proximity, hence the need to bring students back on campus, things will never go back to how they were before.
“In a matter of weeks, the School gained a great deal of digital maturity. Over 80% of our faculty delivered online classes. We conducted peer-based feedback sessions on the best online courses and then analysed any obstacles that were encountered. Maintaining 100% online learning is simply not tenable, nor is it advisable in the long run. The digital experience does however enable us to enhance our classroom-based teaching and prepare ourselves, with a certain degree of serenity, as we navigate our way through these uncertain waters,” adds Valérie Claude-Gaudillat.
Each of our campuses has been equipped for the mixed delivery of courses, in anticipation of any potential difficulties international students may have getting back to the school campuses. Audencia has promised to provide them with educational continuity, and the School has every intention of honouring its pledge.
Over and above the need for agility and rapid change to face this pandemic, Audencia will never forget that a prerequisite of innovative teaching is pursuing the hybridisation of skills. The world that comes after will be shaped by multi-skilled profiles of those trained to meet the challenges of data, AI, technology, geopolitics, and the neurosciences. Not forgetting to support the development of awareness.
“The crisis has paralysed certain business leaders who have found themselves at a loss when faced with making a decision, hence the absence of any decision or messy, unproductive to-ing and fro-ing which is very damaging to organisations. The world has become so complex now that economic actors have no option but to grasp the bigger picture, by simultaneously taking stock of all the business stakes,” concludes Valérie.
Recommended reading by Valérie Claude-Gaudillat:
“You’re about to make a terrible mistake!” Olivier Sibony (Clés des Champs)
Florence Alix-Gravellier, Editor
During lockdown, Audencia ensured educational continuity through its remote online learning and proved to be a pillar of support. The Career Center tells us how.
“Throughout the lockdown period, the Career Centre online platform enabled us to remain highly responsive and stay connected to our students and alumni, reassuring them that they had not been left to fend for themselves. In these times of uncertainty, they benefitted from ongoing access to a place where resources and a sympathetic ear could be found, allowing them to carry on remaining active,” explains Agnès Marchand, Director of this tool which was launched at the end of January, showcased as a second-to-none coaching and consulting agency.
A staff of 10 accredited consultants and coaches, backed by some thirty partners (psychologists etc.), therefore remained on remote standby, with all staff members committed to providing assistance, in cases such as tailored career-support sessions. Thus, 308 one-on-one interviews were carried out during lockdown, 80% with students and 20% alumni. In the space of four months, they also managed to organise 40 online workshops, in the form of English- and French-speaking interactive workshops. The topics featured included: “finding an internship" or "job in times of uncertainty", "how to build a meaningful career plan", and "succeeding at a job interview.” More than 600 participants joined in and got involved.
Lowdown on forthcoming events!
With lockdown behind us, it’s now time for us to turn our attention towards the coming academic year. You’ll be pleased to hear it’s packed full of events (Welcome Days, Induction Days, and more besides). As is the custom, this year Audencia is once again organising the Forum, a two-day event which will gather together students alongside some fifty businesses. Given the current situation, this gathering is now switching online from 14 to 15 October, via its very own dedicated virtual platform. In tandem, from the end of September, the school is planning to step up its support targeted at recent graduates from the 2020 class year. Featuring on the programme: one-on-one interviews, remote workshops helping you land your first job, and more. An online standby service will also be available to alumni to assist in pinpointing those sectors which are currently on a recruitment drive.
Finally, following on from a survey carried out amongst some fifty alumni working in human resources, gathering their views on the current situation, a roundtable discussion exposing differing points of view is set to take place at the beginning of October.
Florence Falvy, Editor
The W Project: a community of French expat entrepreneurs
Set up in 2012, the W Project is a platform for French entrepreneurs overseas. Its aim is to pass on and share both the stories and experiences of these far-flung adventurers, with practical tips on what living and setting up an export business is actually like. Behind this joint venture there lies a beautiful friendship, that of Thomas Nanterme (GE 12) and Brice de Matharel (GE 12).
Although it is difficult to determine precisely just how many French entrepreneurs have moved abroad to try their luck (1), one thing is certain: their number is on the increase. Based on this observation, 32-year-old Thomas Nanterme and 33-year-old Brice de Matharel, both alumni of the Grande Ecole programme, have joined forces to spearhead the W Project.
“While we were both on our overseas work placements, Brice in China and I myself in Mexico, we would often hear rather negative talk concerning expatriation, with controversy over the so-called tax exiles, but this didn’t match up with our own observations. This inspired us to recount some of the great stories behind these French entrepreneurs,” recalls Thomas who is currently based in Paris.
500 portraits in over 50 countries
Their journey began back in March 2013, with them scouring the globe in pursuit of these entrepreneurs. This year-round trip saw the two friends spanning 13 countries, (from Spain to Brazil, as well as India, Singapore and the United States among others) where they met up with over 100 entrepreneurs. The upshot of this was the production of a series of filmed portraits capturing top tips for how to launch your own overseas business, country fact-files with all the useful information required to get started, together with surveys focussing on the country-specific economic and entrepreneurial climate. So, every year, the twenty members of W Project travel the world, in groups of at least two people, as they go in search of these inspiring stories, generally drawing on the support of local resources such as the local chambers of commerce.
Seven years on and over 500 portraits have now been produced from around 50 countries, which can be viewed on the www.wproject.fr website and at Facebook. It is important to note that the platform may well evolve:
“We are looking to provide these entrepreneurs with a range of new services, including a job board with on-line postings of internship opportunities and overseas job offers. Moreover, an additional idea could be to explain how to benefit from mentoring during the start-up phase as well as who to go to for support,” Thomas points out.
So, this may just open up opportunities for even more overseas ventures for some of our budding entrepreneurs…
Florence Falvy, Editor
(1) - 28% of French expats are self-employed (A study by Mondissimo, March 2013, “Expatriates, votre vie nous interesse” (“Calling all expats! We’d like to hear about your expat experience”).
Sensitive to the current challenges faced by a number of our students, alumni have been getting mobilised, as have the CADO (Club Audencia des Dirigeants de l’Ouest, an alumni club bringing together leaders in western France) and the Audencia Leaders Circle, cofounded by Philippe Serzec (GE 92), partner at PwC.
What exactly is the Audencia Leaders Circle?
Philippe Serzec: It’s a community we set up back in 2008, alongside Sébastien Rouzaire (GE 91), to foster alumni connections. At the time, we considered it important to create a club seeking to bring together graduates with over 15 years’ experience and holding a leadership or executive position in their company. This set of criteria enables us to build a diverse community of shared interest. To maintain close links, we meet up to three times a year, to exchange ideas on cross-cutting topics, usually in conference mode. This is often followed up with a cocktail reception or, on occasion, we put on special events as we did at Roland Garros on the subject of disability.
There is also the CADO, the Club Audencia des Dirigeants de l’Ouest, set up in 2017.
PS: It’s a great initiative, especially as a significant proportion of Audencia alumni are based in the northwest region of France, the birthplace of our business school. Up to now, we hadn’t established links between the two clubs but both communities definitely sing from the same hymn sheet, namely getting together and making oneself known. Shining a spotlight on certain career paths has proved tremendously inspiring for students and helps to develop a certain sense of collective pride.
Of late, both clubs have found themselves defending the same cause: a solidarity fund set up in support of Audencia students encountering difficulties in light of the current health crisis. Is this sheer coincidence?
PS: Not really. When the CADO launched this scheme, of course Sébastien Rouzaire and I agreed it was a great idea, as regards the difficulties experienced by a number of students, many of whom have seen their internships or jobs put on hold. We were all aware of their situation. Therefore, we set out to raise awareness amongst members of the Leaders Circle, by spreading the word about the Audencia Foundation solidarity fund. Our role was simply to get the message out there loud and clear. Thankfully this paid off, as the combined efforts of all those involved - the CADO, the Leaders Circle, alumni and the School itself – has enabled us to hit our €60,000 target. Over 150 students will now benefit from the Foundation’s help. It’s a valuable group effort but of course our sincere thanks must go first and foremost to those who generously donated to the cause!
Guy-Pierre Chomette, Editor
A class-year journey
Barbara Prates and Rob Bowen, two graduates from our International Master in Management (IMM 12) programme, have been on a road trip travelling across a number of countries to catch up with their former class-year peers.
A look back over this amazing adventure
It all began in 2016, with Welshman Rob Bowen paying a visit to his Brazilian classmate Barbara Prates.
“We met up in Belo Horizonte,” Rob explains. “Together, we had a conversation about how great it would be for us to organise a reunion to celebrate the fifth anniversary of our class year. This was held in Paris where 17 out of a possible 46 turned up for the event. Most of the attendees were based in Europe, all bar one of us who had made her way over from China, as well as Barbara from Brazil of course.”
Barbara and Rob reflected on what a shame it had been that more people hadn’t shown up to the event.
“No-one was there from Asia, so we both said: why not pay them a visit instead?”
So, it came to be that these two class-year buddies set about planning their very own road trip across the Asian continent, for August 2018. Off they set, starting their journey in China – more precisely in Shanghai – where they met up with Amber, one of their former classmates. Next stop Macao, then on to Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and the list goes on.
“Certain countries proved tougher than others to arrange these meet-ups in, given how long some of these journeys would take. There were some missed opportunities too.”
In the main, Barbara and Rob kept in touch with the others via Facebook and LinkedIn, yet “it was a great opportunity to get back to having some truly authentic relationships. We always received a warm welcome, even though our former classmates might be in the middle of working, looking after their kids, or going about their daily lives when we showed up, whereas for us it was a holiday.”
Discovering the culture of each of the countries we visited was high-up on our agenda, as was sampling some of the local dishes: “I remember a great little restaurant in Shanghai where we got to taste some really delicious ravioli.”
Barbara and Rob, both delighted with their trip, are already talking about reuniting with their class year in 2022, for the 10th year celebrations: “It will more than likely be held in Nantes, but at the very least online” to symbolically mark their return to the cradle of Audencia.
Jordi Soude (SCOM 07), Editor
Slowing things down every so often is fast becoming one of life’s necessities. Sainte-Vertu, situated in the Burgundy region of France, in the appropriately named Serein Valley (Serene Valley), is where Brigitte Neveu-Dérotrie (GE 85, who also runs the Audencia Alumni Marketing Club in Paris) offers weekend breaks for a digital detox and gastronomic experience.
What link do you make between your setting up of Detox days and your career path in the communications sector?
Brigitte Neveu-Dérotrie: I worked in an agency for many years prior to going freelance. I specialised in B2B digital communications, using my own specific take on things: how can we make the best use of social media, while avoiding all the time-wasting? What’s more, nowadays we are seeing the emergence of digital ecology: the carbon footprint of our digital activity remains far from neutral. People are beginning to wake up to this issue. Part of my time is spent living in Sainte-Vertu, an extremely vibrant village full of artists near Chablis, so I wanted to offer city-dwellers the opportunity to take breaks there, in a setting that benefits from being both a place out of time while not too far from Paris, making it the ideal place for switching off.
Putting our mobile phones to one side isn’t all that easy to do… how do you go about it?
Brigitte Neveu-Dérotrie: I put on weekend getaways which are 100% detox but I’m not in the habit of confiscating mobile phones when our guests arrive! It’s a natural process. As long as it’s still possible for people to contact them, when they are surrounded by nature, they themselves automatically switch off. They come here to recharge their batteries. These weekend getaways are centred around the experience itself, namely the sharing of good practices and finding a healthy life balance, for a return to one’s inner self. It’s got nothing to do with training sessions. We also benefit from our vibrant local village with its galleries, artists and concerts. I generally co-host these weekends alongside my associates, coaches and yoga teachers etc.
You also cater for gastronomic-detox weekends. What exactly are they?
Brigitte Neveu-Dérotrie: Digital and gastronomic detox are both part and parcel of the same ethos. I am convinced that what we eat really does matter. So, I offer cooking workshops using predominantly locally-sourced, organic produce, and come up with the menus alongside a nutritionist. Cooking tasty, wholesome meals also means being aware of exactly what we are putting on our plates. We also put on both yoga and mindfulness sessions, as well as nature walks and massages. The venue has hosted jazz concerts too. On occasion, we also have other activities like team building workshops during more immersive weeks, as well as artistic activities for instance. We are responding to a basic need for a better life balance together with stress management and ecology, which represents a real need we all have to recharge our batteries in order to help us recentre and get back to what’s important.
Guy-Pierre Chomette, Editor
Back in March 2020, Audencia Around the World began its 8-day alumni journey in London. What began as a global initiative bringing alumni together on all five continents, was rapidly overtaken by the global health situation. Many, if not most of the gatherings were postponed. However, alumni in London, Brussels, Algiers, Toronto, Vancouver and Lagos managed to get together in their respective cities while it was still reasonable and safe to do so. We hope to be able to reschedule events as and when possible!
In a few numbers, Audencia Around the World this year was due to include:
But also, a definite theme for foodies with:
And, not forgetting the first ever alumni gatherings planned in Auckland, Baku, Guadalajara, Phnom Penh, and Reunion Island.
There were some great stories to tell and, for sure, there will be others to come. The whole team would like to extend a huge thank you to all those Audencians - alumni, interns, students, staff and friends - who contributed to the collective effort that we hope, will continue. Wherever you are, from Munich to Sydney and from Sao Paulo to Tokyo, our thoughts go out to alumni and their families around the world. We hope you all stay safe and well.
Audencia Around the World held its inaugural event in London at The Driver pub in the heart of King’s Cross. Fifty Audencians past and present answered the invitation from Tristan Pelloux (GE 15), London ambassador, to celebrate the School's 120th anniversary and enjoyed an evening of networking and refreshments in fine company, including staff from Audencia:
Khalida Anad (Exec-MBA 18), Mustapha Khelil (Exec-MBA 19) and Christophe Richard (MBA 05 / DBA in progress) were instrumental in organising the gathering in Algiers. Attendees were mainly from the Executive MBA programme with ESAA in Algiers. The event was a perfect opportunity to catch up on the latest network news.
“We marked the celebrations for Audencia's 120th anniversary by organising a gathering,” says Khalida. “Not so many attendees as we hoped but the alumni who could make it were very motivated to be there despite the coronavirus situation” she concludes.
For its second participation in the Around the World festivities, alumni in Toronto made the cut on Saturday 14 March. With the city preparing to stay at home for a while, alumni and friends held a small and friendly gathering which was full of laughter. Organisers Siddharth Akolkar (IMM 10) and Hélène Niyonzima (GE 14) were delighted to re-connect with the lively and dynamic group of Torontonian alumni.
Vancouver's small but perfect gathering brought together 75% of the alumni community in the city. Karl-Stéphane Coyault (GE 98) has only recently arrived in Vancouver and, after attending last year's Around the World in Hong Kong, was eager to connect with alumni there.
“We made it!” says Karl, “and we had a great evening!”
Brendan Maher (IMM 11), Mathilde Fourcade (EIBM 12) and Karl-Stéphane, met on the Harbour in front of the snow-capped peaks. "The after work drink turned into a dinner and went on late into the night... we will do it again soon, we have so much still to share about this fabulous city and the opportunities it offers!"
“In the first part of the evening, after a welcome cocktail, we were divided into two groups. The purpose was to work separately on the menu and to be engaged in a sort of challenge: each group was supposed to prepare the same food, but also to prove their food knowledge through a quiz, a food-testing contest, and a cream whipping challenge). During these activities, each group participant had the chance to start knowing each other, learn various things (from - apparently - simple, like how to grip and use a big kitchen knife, to more complicated ones, like filling a sac à poche with delicious chocolate), and have a lot of fun. In the second part of the soirée we all sat around the table, ate (and compared) the two groups’ food, drank a good wine, discussed, and celebrated the school.”
Alumna Bérengère Tripon (GE 98) added:
“Thank you Flore for your warm welcome and to your team for their ability to teach and inform and to all the participants for their good humour and the discussions we had during the evening. À une prochaine!”
Audencia has a fledgling alumni community in Lagos, which is set to grow in the coming years.
Oge Moweta (FAM 17) took the opportunity of the Around The World initiative in March to hold an alumni gathering. Oge chose his venue with care - a French baker, housed in the Alliance Française building in central Lagos. With lockdown restrictions about to come into play, not all of the alumni were able to make it, but some joined online. This blended face-to-face/virtual gathering of alumni is certainly a game changer and will pave the way for creative solutions in the future to maintain the connections between alumni worldwide. Thank you Oge, Nonso, Efe, Joshua and Olivia for putting the Lagos alumni community on the map - we look forward to seeing more from you as soon as it is safe to do so!
Katie Francois, on behalf of the Alumni Center
A globetrotting profession
Mathilde Vanneron (SCOM 14) earned her Sciencescom degree at Audencia in 2014 and has long felt a burning desire to discover the world. Here, she looks back over her career path, from internships through to her very first jobs, which have taken her all around the globe.
Right from the get-go, even when deciding on her first work placement as part of her bachelor’s degree at Audencia Sciencescom, Mathilde has always wanted to go abroad. So, Canada it was:
“Very few of us wanted to leave France, barely a dozen of us in fact from our entire class year. For me though, it was a no-brainer and I managed to obtain my visa, which allowed me to set off to the other side of the Atlantic for a six-month stay.”
There, Mathilde worked for an haute-couture designer. She was tasked with their communication, social media and events networking and she also did the groundwork for their fashion show during Montreal Fashion Week.
“There were only a few of us in the team, so we needed to be good multitaskers. I did a lot and learned a great deal during this first internship.”
Then, it was back to France for the first year of her master’s in Nantes, but it wasn’t long before Mathilde started getting itchy feet:
“I decided to take a gap year in Australia during the middle of my two-year master. I’d long dreamed of discovering this country and, with my sights set on an international career, it was all the more important for me to immerse myself in an English-speaking environment.”
From Denmark to Polynesia
For Mathilde, the second year of her master’s degree would also bear the travel hallmark, with a term spent in Mexico at the prestigious Monterrey Tech and an end-of-studies internship working for a Danish start-up for a period of six months:
“I was hired at the end of my internship and my time there was split between France and Denmark.”
After this initial posting, Mathilde went on to join the team at Aviareps, which represents a large number of international tourist offices in France.
“I was in charge of promoting a number of tourist destinations to the French market, namely the State of Nevada and Mauritius in particular. I organised trips for both media and tour operators over there.”
Travel is indeed a constant thread running through. Yet, Mathilde was ever eager to learn more about the tourist trade and she joined Austral Lagons and Ponant, a specialist in luxury cruises.
“I am currently the marketing director for a specific brand: Paul Gauguin Cruises, which operates throughout Polynesia in places such as Tahiti, Bora-Bora and the Society Islands. Although my work is based in Paris, these destinations, which I have yet to discover for myself, continue to fuel this burning desire of mine to travel the world.”
Jordi Soude (SCOM 07), Editor
Swift to respond, the Audencia Foundation has rallied together to set up a Solidarity Fund for students encountering difficulties due to the current health crisis. A great many alumni have responded to the call. A huge thank you to all of you who donated!
According to a study conducted by the Ipsos institute, the average monthly student living costs currently stands at around €600 (for rent, food bills, communication expenses etc...). With internships and second jobs being put on hold due to lockdown, made compulsory in late March, a number of students found themselves suddenly plunged into difficulty, finding it hard to cover even their basic needs, while also suffering the psychological effects of isolation, particularly hard-hitting on our international students.
“We have identified over one hundred Audencia students who have been left in precarious circumstances,” explains Nicolas Arnaud, Director of Programmes at Audencia.
With this in mind, “the Audencia Foundation has responded by setting up a dedicated Solidarity Fund,” explains Françoise Marcus, General Delegate of the Audencia Foundation. On 5 May, on the occasion of Giving Tuesday, the International Day of Solidarity established in response to the pressing and unprecedented needs brought about by Covid-19, a collection fund was launched, mobilising the Alumni network to come to the assistance of students in dire straits and in need of immediate support.”
At this time of unprecedented crisis, the solidarity upon which the network is built has taken on new meaning. The alumni community has been fully on board with this initiative, just like the Club Audencia des Dirigeants de l’Ouest (CADO, the alumni club bringing together leaders in the northwest of France) and the Leaders Circle, who have been spreading the word amongst their members of the Foundation’s help. The campaign has indeed borne fruit: €65,800 has been raised, smashing the initial target of €60,000. Around 160 students have already benefitted from a grant awarded by the Audencia Foundation!
“My internship was put on hold, so I was no longer getting the salary I had been putting aside mainly to help fund my overseas university exchange in 2021. This grant has allowed me to make up for around a third of the salaries I’d lost out on,” explains one of our Grande Ecole students from the class of 2022.
One of our students on the International Master in Management (2021) testifies:
“I didn’t manage to land a job, I stayed at home during lockdown and have been living off very limited resources. The funding from Audencia helped me to feel supported and valued. This enabled me to better deal with the stress I felt constantly under during lockdown due to the extremely tight financial situation I found myself in.”
We’d like to express our sincere thanks to those of you who generously donated to the cause, reflecting the true values of what it really means to belong to Audencia!
Guy-Pierre Chomette, Editor
Two recipients of a Class Gift award from the Audencia Foundation in 2018, Florentin Cugnot and Valentin Bros (both fellow GE 19) are now launching Natz, the first French-style hard seltzer, a flavoured sparkling water which contains natural alcohol. Spotlight on their entrepreneurial adventure.
Could you tell us how your business venture began, back when you were both studying at the school?
Florentin Cugnot: We had always wanted to break into the Food & Drink market. The “Class Gift” call for proposals was a wonderful opportunity for us to test out our first concept, in wine and events. We eventually came up with the idea of a class-year vintage for alumni. After having selected a winegrower, we set up our own bespoke label for the 2018 class year. The aid we received from the Foundation enabled us to fund our travel expenses to the vineyard, buy the bottles, provide information about the project, in short to get our Monsieur W business up and running. Five euros from each bottle sold was donated to the Foundation to help fund future Class Gift awards.
How did you make the leap from Monsieur W to Natz, your new venture?
Florentin Cugnot: We opened a shop in Paris for sales and wine tastings. It didn’t take us long to work out how much of a demand there was for products that don’t fall into the wine, champagne or beer category. While it’s true that there are countless innovations in the market for non-alcoholic beverages, there aren’t any new arrivals in that of alcoholic beverages. In the States however, hard seltzers have skyrocketed over the last two years. Innovation seems to be fashionable at the moment: sugar-free, gluten-free, low-alcohol content (5% vol). We have now transformed our back shop into a laboratory and have been experimenting with various recipes with the help of a master brewer and a flavourist. We ended up finding the right combination of sugar and yeast. Following the industrial phase, the product was launched onto the market in July.
What link do you make between the aid you received from the Foundation and the launch of Natz?
Florentin Cugnot: There’s definitely a tangible link there, albeit indirect! The Foundation made it possible for us to launch our first business, Monsieur W, and so be in contact with the market. This provided an ideal vantage point in order to be able to spot that consumers were feeling somewhat weary as regards the alcoholic beverages on offer, and to understand that things needed to change. Were it not for the Foundation, Monsieur W would never have existed, and without Monsieur W, we would never have had the market perception required to break into this market!
Guy-Pierre Chomette, Editor
Travel, a source of entrepreneurial inspiration
Sophie Royné (SCOM 12) can vouch for this. At the age of 28, after two different posts working as a communications manager in Paris, this young woman felt the need to take a break and go travelling.
“During my studies, the opportunity of experiencing life abroad had never presented itself to me. So, one day, I felt this burning desire to head out to a far-off place to recharge my batteries.”
In October 2017, the young woman took off to the other side of the planet, to New Zealand no less! Once there, this sporty and upbeat nature lover not only got to admire the breath-taking scenery out there but also to sleep on a beach, where she shared a cave with a penguin, as she made her way from farm to farm working for four hours a day in exchange for her meals and accommodation.
“My chores varied depending on what the farmers needed me to do on that particular day. One of my jobs was to go horse-riding every day. Living my best life indeed! These odd jobs taught me how to adapt and bounce back in any situation and also made it possible for me to meet a great many wonderful people.”
Moreover, it was while working on these farms that she would go on to make the acquaintance of Barbora, who would soon become her travel mate of choice. Thanks to her, Sophie discovered the beeswax wrap: a new type of food wrapping made from beeswax. It took her no time at all to realise just how urgent it was that she share the virtues of this fantastic product with people in France.
“On 26 December 2017, I had my light-bulb moment. Some see the Virgin Mary, I saw Apiwi! I have always dreamt of working in a profession that really matters and I’m all about environmental conservation. So, that very same evening, I said to myself: I’m going to import this product to France and set up my own business.”
The seed that was planted that night has started to bear fruit. Her Apiwi startup is now part of the Alliance Centrale-Audencia-Ensa startup incubator. With the support of her associate, Sophie produces, designs and distributes her food packaging made from beeswax. Two years after returning home to France, this young woman, in her early thirties, believes this trip to be the best decision she has ever taken in her entire life.
“This trip has changed my life. I left France as a communications manager in Paris and came back six months later as an entrepreneur in Nantes, my hometown. I would never have imagined myself launching into this crazy entrepreneurial adventure.”
Travel enables you to gain greater self-confidence and ignites creative sparks and ideas. The world’s your oyster!
Géraldine Lance, Editor
"Digitalization: French SMEs at a crossroads"
To help you succeed on your road to digital transformation, a group of players from the digital realm seek to provide you with a comprehensive description of exactly what is at stake for those professions most impacted by digital technology, highlighting the key challenges involved and inspiring the leaders of small and medium-sized enterprises by drawing upon examples of successfully led transformations.
Publishers: Aircall, GoCardless, HubSpot, Lucca (Alexandre Imbeaux GE 09), Skillup, Talkspirit and Yousign
"Raoulinho has gone missing"
The entire city of Saint-Etienne is in turmoil! Raoulinho is nowhere to be found. This footballer’s home goal, has become a YouTube sensation and he’s had enough of all the taunting. In no time at all, Valérie and Valentin hop onto their bike and skateboard, setting off to track him down. For the two friends, there’s no escaping the blunders made by their favourite gaffe-machine player. Belly laughs and twists and turns guaranteed! From age 9.
A hair-raising first novel by Roland Martin (SCOM 96)
"Imagining tomorrow’s world"
Right across the globe, for a decade and a half now, citizen reporters, bloggers, new media and journalists have been covering new ground by spreading initiatives to help spur us into taking action. Without falling into the same trap as “positive news” journalism, with its altogether naïve spin on relaying news items, they are committed to telling us all about the world, interpreting what’s going wrong whilst also shining a spotlight on the efforts being made to improve the situation.
In combining a constructive problem-solution approach, by calling upon the participation of citizens, and by benefitting from a more attentive ear from journalists, it is indeed possible for the media to gain new momentum, and for citizens to fan into flame their desire to get involved. Gilles Vanderpooten (GE 09)
"Let’s stick to talking about my achievements"
Why is it that famous people always come across as invincible? At what point have they been brought to their knees, and more to the point, what inspired them to bounce back? Everyone has experienced their fair share of failures in life related to school, business, family, betrayal, abandonment, breach of trust, etc...
Quentin Périnel (SCOM 12) uncovers some of the setbacks and disappointments, lasting just a few days or several years, which managed to cast a shadow over the omnipotent lives of Thierry Marx, Michel-Édouard Leclerc, Gérard Jugnot, Teddy Riner, Fleur Pellerin, Mercedes Erra, Frédéric Beigbeder, Stéphane Bern, Maurice Lévy, Sophie Lacoste, Erik Orsenna, Marc Simoncini, Philippe Starck, Jacques Attali, Philippe Labro and others.
This book is an unconventional and literary road trip in search of the failures of winners.
An essential guide for families seeking to cut back on their use of plastic and adopt a healthier lifestyle with the utmost respect for our planet.
This book is published in Spanish. Marion De La Porte (GE 07)
“Digital is like learning to ride a bike, it’s a learned skill”
All professions are impacted by digital technology with everyone required to master it on a professional level, from craftspeople to senior executives. Yet, it still manages to scare some of us. This book seeks to make things easier for those who find it a challenge by demonstrating just how to adjust to this new situation.
It steers them upwards and onwards toward some great training courses and also explains how to adopt the right mentality. Once you’ve picked up this skill, you’ll be riding high! Erik Campanini (GE 96)
Are you also a published alumni member? If so, then please drop the team a few lines here at email@example.com
Emilie Tendron, on behalf of the Alumni Center
Our fellow Audencians who have changed post in recent months:
Our fellow Audencians who have started their own business in recent months:
Congratulations to each and every one of you on these distinguished appointments and start-ups!
If you too would like to tell us about your own recent appointment or new start-up, then please drop us a line here at firstname.lastname@example.org
Emilie Tendron, on behalf of the Alumni Center
Thank you so much for reading The Mag #14 and we so hope you’ve enjoyed it! If you have, why not take a couple of minutes to get in touch, we’d be happy to hear your thoughts!
As always, we welcome your feedback if ever you’d like to submit ideas on topics of interest or make any suggestions for improvement.
And so, with this back-to-school issue now drawing to a close, we look forward to seeing you back here in December for the next edition of The Mag when we’ll be preparing for 2021!
In the meantime, Together is on hand to keep you in the loop: why not set up an account and become part of the Audencia community!
You’ll discover our service offer aiming to ensure you get the support you need throughout your working life: invitations to online and in-person events, job offers, training courses, individual career management sessions, access to the alumni directory, chat forums, and more.
Join in and (re)connect with your alumni network!
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