Sylvain Girardeau - Major Accounts Manager, Steelcase
Finding my path in life
When I joined the La Rochelle’s BBA I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do later in life, as was the same for most of my fellow students. I just knew I wanted to work in a company, in an industry where I could meet different people and travel. The BBA International seemed much more adapted to that objective than a regular bachelor, and I wasn’t disappointed. The course content is very comprehensive, delivered by specialists, each with a unique proﬁle, and each sharing their complementary experiences which us. Of course, it goes without saying that one of the best parts of this programme is the wealth of international experience which provides an undeniable intercultural openness. In my case, all of my experiences over the 4 years were in North America:
• My 1st internship in sales and marketing was for Blue Paciﬁc Boat, Los Angeles
• My ﬁnal internship was in Mexico in the marketing department of CETELEM
• My academic expatriation was in Fort Lewis College, Colorado
The BBA... a real springboard
The BBA International is the only programme in France to offer so many long and varied international experiences. This programme gave me so much more than a regular masters programme and was the key to my being employed on a VIE contact, which led a permanent position. The programme clearly helped me develop not only my technical skills but more importantly, my people skills… open-mindedness, adaptability and the capacity to cope with being far from family and friends.
Negotiating with the World
As regards technical skills, my job essentially focuses on international negotiation. I sign worldwide contracts with our suppliers. As well as fully understanding the key clauses of a contract, I also need to be able to do it in at least 3 languages.
My results rely on my ability to build working relations with people who are thousands of miles away so my intercultural management classes were very useful. On a lighter note, I know it’s only a small detail, but I have now mastered packing my suitcase both quickly and eﬃciently, as I spend 50% of my time away on business trips!
Advice for future BBA International Students
Spend as much time as possible abroad on internships and in companies as soon as possible (the world of work is a great classroom). Travel and live in different countries to learn languages. Be adventurous and dare to make mistakes in order to learn. Target innovative sectors of business.