Jean-Michel Gauthier is cofounder and CEO of InternsME, an online platform based in Dubai that helps students and graduates to find internships and jobs. He’s also a current online MBA student at Imperial College Business School.
“The business is expanding,” he says. “We have won awards and have acquired excellent clients. Every month we’re becoming bigger and better.” In this interview, Gauthier explains why he decided to enroll in an online MBA program, how the course is helping him to take his business forward and how he balances study time with his existing commitments.
Why did you choose to do an MBA?
We have a lot of growth plans for the next two years – diversifying our revenue streams and expanding into new markets. In doing this, the business is going to face major strategic challenges. Most of what I’ve learned in business I’ve had to do the hard way, and to succeed in business you need to make as few mistakes as possible, especially as an entrepreneur. This is where I see an MBA helping me. I needed to extend my horizons, meet new people from different backgrounds and perspectives who could inspire me to learn on a wider scale.
Why an online MBA?
Once I’d decided to do an MBA, the only option was an online program to ensure I could be available on a daily basis to run the business. There was no way I could have taken a year or more out to study.
What are you enjoying about the program at Imperial College Business School?
Most importantly (particularly when considering an online program) the content is first class. Some of those at other business schools tell me they’re being taught what they already know, but that’s simply not the case at Imperial College Business School. There’s tons of material and different perspectives that I’ve not come across before. For instance, we had a talk from a leading economics professor who shared insight that is not readily available in the public domain.
One experience that stays with me is the first week of the program, which takes place on campus. When I signed up for the MBA program, I was really busy and, initially, didn’t like it when I was told the first week was a compulsory in-person program – meaning I had to fly to London. My opinion soon changed when I got there. I could see and feel what I was to be a part of and met people face to face. It was an action-packed week, meeting professors, taking part in a business challenge and listening to some great minds. While there, I heard there was an upcoming lecture from Stephen Hawking! That type of thing from some of the world’s top brains is just an everyday occurrence at Imperial College Business School.
After that one week, I said, “now I get it,” and realized why I had done absolutely the right thing in signing up for Imperial College Business School’s online MBA program. You learn from leading experts on a variety of important subjects. The whole five impactful days set the premise for everyone to get to know each other. The motivation could not have been better.
Despite the distance between me and my classmates, there is a social element to the program. Our group, spread across different countries, are all active on social media, messaging on WhatsApp and exchanging notes and thoughts. It’s more social than people expect it to be. They think that because it’s online you won’t get to know anyone or make friends, but that’s simply not the case.
How is the online MBA helping your business?
One huge advantage of the online MBA program is that it’s opening my mind up to new ideas that I can feed straight back into my business. For example, at present we’re doing economics and marketing and in both of these fields there’s been a focus on consumer pricing, exploring how it affects supply and demand. As it happens, pricing is a current topic we’re reviewing in the business. So, the day after one of these sessions I came into the office and began making changes. Almost every day I’m seeing the benefits to me and the business.
How has your work-life balance been? Tell me how you’ve been managing study requirements for the MBA program alongside your existing commitments
So far, I haven’t found studying to be a challenge. As with any long-term commitment, such as going to the gym every day, it’s about building the study time into your week as part of your lifestyle. You just have to get into the rhythm of studying, along with board meetings, client meetings, international flights, and everything else that goes hand-in-hand with running a growing venture. An advantage with the online MBA is that you can choose your study time, turning it off and on, by downloading the lectures to watch later. However, there are still regular deadlines and learning objectives to be met, in order to keep the class working together.
Every day I have a different work schedule. Some days I may get up early and study from 6am until 7.30am and then have breakfast and leave for work. Other days, I may leave it until late at night when I get home after a networking event, or maybe I choose to find time at weekends. There are days when work prevents me from fitting in any study, and I just have to find time elsewhere to catch up.
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