When International MBA students at Emlyon Business School switched to studying online after France’s coronavirus outbreak, Abram Stewart (pictured) used the opportunity to strengthen his network and land a new job.
Before Emlyon, he worked as a product manager for investment strategies at Charles Schwab Investment Management. He was secure in his role, but he wanted a business education that would give him wider career options.
He’s now a senior consultant in the investment management division of Deloitte Luxembourg, and says he’s in a strong position to add more variety to his career. “Before leaving for business school, I thought to myself: When was the last time you took a risk?” he says.
The risk paid off. With his MBA, Abram is already reaping the benefits––and the global pandemic didn’t get in the way of him realizing his career ambitions.
Being an MBA student during the pandemic
After working in the US, Abram welcomed the opportunity to move to France and enroll at a top business school to broaden his skill set and access the European job market.
“For me, business school has given me the opportunity to embark on a journey to live and work abroad––an opportunity I hadn’t had at my previous role due to their focus on the domestic US market,” Abram says.
Emlyon appealed to him because of its internationally diverse cohort, the focus on entrepreneurship, and the flexibility of elective courses, Abram explains. The price point––with an MBA at Emlyon costing a quarter of the average price of American MBA courses––added some incentive, too.
“On a personal note, my wife is French and we had always wanted to return to Europe before our son was in school and we owned a house––things that would make moving more difficult in the future,” Abram explains. “So, with three suitcases (and the cat), we shipped out to Lyon!”
With a young child at home, Abram has enjoyed the increased flexibility online learning has allowed thanks to coronavirus. He was able to fit his study around raising his child.
Abram enjoyed exploring France throughout his time at Emlyon Business School
“My professors understood these are unprecedented times and accommodations needed to be made,” he says. “Besides acquiring the ability to use a wide array of video conferencing software, the biggest skills I’ve carried with me into the workplace from this period is how to stay proactive and relevant.”
Abram says that he now has an increased understanding and appreciation for the value cultural diversity adds to the workplace.
Online networking with Deloitte
Being proactive is a key skill in consulting, and online networking helped him find his current job, he adds. “I don’t expect jobs to find me, so I diligently built my internal network to get visibility.”
Abram reached out to contacts he’d made at an Emlyon careers fair late last year, and stayed in contact with them throughout the pandemic.
“All MBA candidates must understand that the job search is a long and involved processes,” he points out. “My position at Deloitte is the result of eight months of diligent networking.”
It took time to find the right role for him. He admits to dozens of leads he chased as he finished off his MBA qualification. Although these ended in disappointment, his applications grew stronger each time.
“I spoke with Deloitte at the first banking and consulting mini job fair in October 2019 at Emlyon. There, I made a personal connection with one of the reps over their favorite pizza in NYC.”
This innocuous meeting led to them staying in contact, giving Abram insight into the inner workings of the organization––such as nuances in office environments, and potential areas for growth in the company, he explains.
At Emlyon, Abram got the international and cultural experience he was after
Landing a post-MBA job
Over the ensuing months, Abram signed up for multiple mock interviews with different consulting companies, and made sure to attend roundtables and presentations (delivered in both English and French) which were hosted through Emlyon.
“This preparation allowed me to speak knowledgeably and confidently about the industry during the formal interview process,” he says.
His contact at Deloitte was happy to write a referral for him, and that ultimately led to Abram clinching the role in time for his graduation from Emlyon.
“Emlyon was instrumental in both having a close partnership with Deloitte for students like me to gain visibility with them and for providing informal seminars which give us first hand perspectives from industry practitioners,” he says.