MBA Success Stories: Victoire Ferrari, ESMT Berlin – MBA Strategic Leadership 2022

Victoire Ferrari works in the marketing department at Adidas, and completed her MBA at ESMT Berlin in February 2022

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your career to date?

I spent the first part of my career in my home country, France, where I had the opportunity to learn and experience most sides of marketing by joining world leaders in the tourism, sport and travel industry. Being born obsessed with organisation and structure, I ended exploring what is, in my opinion, the most demanding type of events and ran for a few years my own wedding planning agency in the French Alps.

Spending a lot of time at home in 2020 (because of Covid), I took the opportunity to take a step back and think of my next step. That is how I decided to apply to join ESMT Berlin and complete an MBA.

Two years later, I am graduated, and Germany truly feels like home. My 50 amazing former MBA classmates inspire me every day and the career development opportunities seem endless.

Explain your current role.

I have joined the global marketing team at Adidas world HQ, in the heart of Bavaria, in the Brand Calendar team. Our role is to gather intelligence on all marketing campaigns to govern resource allocation and prioritisation towards sharpening and growing adidas brand positioning and equity.

Where and when did you achieve your MBA?

At ESMT Berlin from which I graduated in February 2022.

Why did you want to study for an MBA in the first instance? And why did you choose to do an MBA at this School?

After 12 years working, I felt it was time for me to get a refresher on the reality of everything business in the current state of our world. Early 2000’s, during my bachelor, globalisation was all we were taught, I felt today was a very different story and need to reconnect with reality.

I was also eager to broaden my perspectives and acquire tools and mindsets beyond my marketing frame. MBA felt just right for all of the above.

I did my research, the MBA landscape is quite bid but then ESMT Berlin quickly appeared to be the best option for me: at the heart of Europe, offering the perfect cohort with a reasonable size yet very diverse (50 students from more than 20 different countries) and deeply rooted in ‘real life’ as it was founded by businesses for businesses.

I also needed to stay close to France to continue participating the life of my family’s company as a member of the board, while finally living aboard (checking some life bucket list item here!).

What is the most interesting thing you learnt from your MBA?

I learnt a tone of new and very interesting thing throughout the MBA, and in every module: design thinking, supply chain, finance, data analytics… The most interesting thing I walked away with though is more on a mindset side, and particularly when it comes to decision making processes.

Professor Francis de Véricourt’s class is a masterpiece and deeply transforms the way you approach situations, problems, and choices…

What were some of the challenges you faced when studying for an MBA?

Going back to School after 10 years in the corporate world is tough. We tend to forget how exhausting this is to spend all of your time learning (to all highschoolers in the world, you have all my respect!).

Two things really helped me face that MBA rollercoaster: implementing a new reward cycle based on small wins (you can easily feel demotivated when you face net new knowledge everyday); and making it a priority to protect some time alone to recharge my batteries, even just to call family or a walk back home instead of jumping in the metro, it makes a huge difference.

Know yourself, know how you reload energy and make sure to protect that no matter what.

Oh, and also talk with your classmates, you are not alone in this, you would be surprised how much you are all going through the same ride of emotions…

How has the MBA made a difference to your career path and leadership journey?

Very good question! We actually talked about it quite often as graduation was approaching! We were all curious to see and feel the difference post-MBA as we were preparing to go back to work. Personally, the biggest difference is that I consider everything in the broader context of the company and not to the frame of my department for example. I now spontaneously connect my mission to the broader strategy and vision for the company. I have a clearer vision of the piece I am in the big puzzle we are. It is as if I had gained the ability to zoom in and out on demand.

Leadership wise, I must say that working with such a diverse group we were during the MBA encouraged me to continue believing that ‘normal’ does not exist nor ‘truth’ in most cases. Things are mostly points of views and each is worth listening to, understanding and integrating.

In what interesting ways have you taken what you have learnt in your MBA into the organisation for which you work?

Holding a horizontal function in a quite siloed matrix organisation, I must be able to challenge my perspective and place myself in the shoes of my stakeholders to understand what will trigger their collaboration but also how to add value to their work, and this is very different from one person to the other. The MBA really helped me here by allowing me to identify frames, anchors… and understanding all types of departments and functions.  

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about studying for an MBA?

Immerse yourself fully in the experience! Make sure to tell your support system, friends, and family, that you are embarking in this crazy ride that will probably keep you away from them for a little while; and then press that lemon as much as you can! Yes, sometimes it will taste a bit bitter but at the end of the day it’s going to be the best lemonade you’ve ever had.

It has been a life changing experience to me, probably the best decision I ever made, because I gave it 150% of me.

What are the next steps for you on your career journey?

Using my humble brain and two hands to participate more towards shaping a better future where we respect our hearth home, where we embrace difference and where we won’t have to shame away from the state of the world we will pass on to the next generations.

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