Mr. Mathieu Dufresne, ESSEC BBA alumnus (2005) and Vice President Regional Marketing, Fragrances & Skin Care, Asia Pacific, Middle East/Africa, Travel Retail at Coty Inc., tells us more about his experience at ESSEC and how it has brought him to where he is today.
Why did you choose to study at ESSEC and what did you like about it?
To me, reputation of the school was an important criteria. In today’s globalized job market, like any individual applying for a job, you will be in competition with profiles from all over the world. This was not the case twenty years ago, but today, you are in competition with applicants worldwide.
At ESSEC, I could strongly feel the international level and ambition of the school to teach students that the world is a globalized place today and that it is important to be aware of the reality abroad, how people work abroad, and to understand different cultures. For that, you need to have an awareness of international culture, which is something I had the chance to experience at ESSEC.
How would you describe your ESSEC experience in the BBA program?
For me, there was a lot of energy, fun, a good sense of ambition, but at the same time a very down-to-earth mentality. The school gives you a look into what business is like, so that you are really prepared for that reality when you finally enter the job market upon graduation. This was definitely one of the competitive advantages of this course, because you need to be prepared, and be able to apply what you have learnt to real situations. The professors at ESSEC did this through a very hands-on approach to learning. For example, the case studies which we worked on in school were a good projection of the real world, which enabled us to be efficient from day one on the job.
What was your best memory of your time in the program?
My best memory would be my time abroad during international exchange in Madrid. From an academic standpoint, this allowed me to work and learn in a totally different environment, be exposed to different ways of working, different subjects and a different approach to learning. From a personal standpoint, the opportunity to live abroad alone is excellent especially for those who would like to travel and work abroad, as it can be considered as the first ‘preview’ to how life as an international manager is like, opening a lot of perspectives for students.
Which exchange programs, international experiences or professional experiences did you have during your BBA program in ESSEC? How have these experiences made a difference to you/influenced you?
During my time at ESSEC, I did an internship every summer: I spent one summer in Romania at Caterpillar, and another at the Middle East in Dubai working with my current company, Coty Inc. One of the things I liked about the school was the strong support in finding internships, as the alumni group and ESSEC network really helped, even when it came to finding a job upon graduation. These experiences pushed me to try and go abroad to find and learn to overcome challenges, as it is definitely not easy for a young student to go abroad alone. I saw the opportunity and took it up, and my academic background played an integral role in helping me get to where I am today.
Could you describe your career path since graduation? What is your current position and responsibilities?
After completing my internship at Coty Inc. in Dubai, I was offered a permanent position with the company and worked there for 4 years, managing the sales and commercial strategy. I then moved to the head office, where I worked for nearly 6 years, supporting the communication and implementation of product launches and trade-related initiatives, and eventually headed the Coty Prestige Global Trade Marketing Department Fragrance & Color worldwide. After my time in Paris, I moved to Singapore in 2014, where I now manage the Fragrance and Skin Care categories for Coty Inc. across Asia Pacific, Middle East/Africa, and Travel Retail worldwide.
What advice would you give to current students?
1) Build a network
2) Be willing to take risks: This is important as we usually don’t push people to take risks, which could lead to complacency. Taking risks today is mandatory as at this level of education, you are in competition with a lot of people, thus you have a lot to prove and when you dare to take risks and confront the challenges, it is a big step forward.
3) Work abroad and travel the world as the world of today is global. If you want to have a real leadership position in a company, you need to be aware of and understand the complexities of various markets.
To me, it is dangerous for students to lose a sense of what the business world is like today, and there is a need to ensure that graduates are ready to work and face the challenge, and ready to engage. Students must appreciate their time spent working with the company, work for the business, stay long enough to be able to show how they can both grow as a person and contribute towards the growth of the company. There needs to be a good balance between academic performance and being able to apply what you have learnt at school.
Could you describe the school atmosphere in 3 words?
Friendly: Through the program, I made very good friends that I am still in touch with today
Demanding: A good level of expectation