After 20 years working in banks, Mattieu Chabanne was accustomed to the like-mindedness of his colleagues and the cyclical nature of finance. However, that familiarity did not stop the desire for change from taking hold in his mind. Chabanne recognized that to advance his career, he would need to leave the comfortable world he had inhabited for two decades. He would need to seek new ideas, connections, and experiences.
Chabanne thought carefully about the best way to branch out. Resigning and changing sectors crossed his mind, but he realized that his industry was not holding him back. Ultimately, Chabanne recognized that a management program could give him what he was looking for — a chance to broaden his horizons, diversify his network and chase insights.
His search for leadership and professional development programs for executives brought him to the Columbia Business School Executive Education Advanced Management Program. Chabanne is now the Head of Corporate Sales for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa at the French international banking group Crédit Agricole. He took time out of his busy schedule to discuss his experiences in the Advanced Management Program and how the program helped change the way he looked at his industry.
The way the program selects the candidates is excellent because everyone is at the same level as you, but you have people from different backgrounds to network with. That was important to me. I was the only one working for a bank. All the other participants came from different worlds. One participant was from an insurance company, and another was involved with parking management. Another participant was the CEO of a furniture company. One worked at a tech company in India, and another produced clothes in Sri Lanka. My fellow participants brought so much to the experience because they were not who I was used to meeting regularly. I think the program helped us see and understand outside perspectives.
It comes back to diversity, which helped me think outside the box. We had classes in which colleagues in the program would share issues they faced in their day-to-day, and we’d discuss ways to solve them.
I remember working on a case with one of the other participants, who was head of sales for a company in the aviation sector. She said that their ticket’s margin compression had been crazy over the last year, and they needed to find a new way of making money and attracting clients. We all brainstormed to help find a solution. Participating in this kind of reflection with the group allowed us to identify strategies we could apply in our roles.
I’m currently managing a group of salespeople. They talk to clients every day, and I see the margin compression, just as the airline company executive noticed. There were similarities in how we could tackle this issue even though we worked in different industries.
There were two. The first was the overall content of the Advanced Management Program. The second, and what I liked most, was the group’s makeup. In addition to the classes, we did activities like going to Columbia’s stadium to row. It was great. You’re on a boat with your team, and you’re trying to row. The group made it work. This was one of the highlights because it helped us think collectively. Thinking collectively is always something that gets results.
When you work in sales, I can tell you that each deal is very individual. Profit is also looked at individually. I now challenge my team to think collectively as much as possible. The total result of my department is not the sum of what people can deliver on their own, but what we can deliver if we work together. I think that lesson was a big highlight, and it is something I’m currently working to replicate and develop.
I’ve been using the post-program services to help me focus on my next move. For example, during my post-program meetings, I’ve discussed staying in the same company or transitioning to another company. I should also mention that, informally, my cohort still has a group on WhatsApp and exchanges a lot of ideas. We had a Zoom session two weeks ago made up of participants from all over the world. We do that regularly. It’s an excellent way to keep in contact with the people who helped you during the program and can still help you now.
I would recommend this program to other executives for several reasons. First, it gives you space to think about your career and where you can go next. Second, it gives you quantifiable results. Most of the people I met in the Advanced Management Program have already changed their jobs and gone on to the next level in their careers.
Columbia Business School Executive Education’s Advanced Management Program is an exclusive 22-week experience built around experiential learning, reflection, peer support, and networking. Participants engage with faculty and peers in immersive virtual classrooms and a unique immersion in New York City, then apply what they learn from one another in their organizations to foster a competitive advantage.