Antonin Reymond (EMBA, 2013 - 2015) is in charge of communications at the Fédération des Entreprises Romandes Genève, the Geneva-based employer’s organization that provides services and business networking opportunities for its 28 000 members.
He tells us about his career and the importance of never stopping to question what you know.
In my role at the communication department, I deal with a very diverse range of stakeholders and with communication in all its forms. Fédération des Entreprises Romandes Genève is a large organization in itself, employing between 350 - 400 people. It makes internal communication and coordination an important part of my work and a big challenge at the same time.
The Federation comprises around 28 000 members ranging from self-employed professionals to multinational corporations. External communication covers relationships with the members, public and media relations, management of the website and social media channels.
I think, the key to success in this role is the ability to understand what others do and speak with them the same language. The metaphor I tend to use is that of an architect. An architect does not know how to do the job of a plumber or an electrician. But he knows their language and he knows their business. Thanks to this, he is able to make them work together.
On changing the career path
I started my career in a very different area - in finance. At that time, I don’t think I even imagined that communication could be a career path. As I was working for a bank, a friend of mine introduced me to his wife, who had recently left the banking industry to work as a communication associate in a private consulting firm.
It was a conversation with her that made me realize that there was a whole range of different career options around banking and finance. I already knew well the financial industry, and the communication aspects I could learn on the job. So, when she invited me to join her company, I jumped right in.
This experience confirms my firm belief: it is absolutely compulsory at one moment or another get out of the comfort zone and discover new things. You cannot progress without interacting with others and learning from their experience. And this is exactly the added value of a program like EMBA, as it brings together a very diverse group of participants and creates space for them to exchange ideas.
Essential traits to succeed
The world today changes so fast, and it is a major challenge for the companies, irrespective of their industry and size. There are two qualities that people must have today to be successful in their careers - flexibility and commitment to the continuous learning.
Firstly, most people are likely to do several professional activities in the course of their careers, even if it is within the same company. It is, therefore, crucial to be flexible and be able to adapt to a new environment, activities and technologies.
Secondly, in any profession new theories and concepts keep emerging constantly, and you must keep pace with them. For this reason, it is important to never stop learning. If you do - the progress will carry on without you.
I still have tight links with the University, and for the past three years I have been coaching groups of students for the Self-Leadership module. This course forms part of the EMBA studies and focuses on providing students with tools to reflect on their career paths and vantage of their MBA. It essentially equips them with the skills needed to lead from within.
Self-Leadership is very demanding, but it is the only course in the program giving the students an opportunity to work on themselves. In other modules you learn plenty of new things about a variety of subjects, but here the content of learning is you.
I believe that in order to progress on the professional path, at some stage of your life you need to step back and ask yourself what you like and what you don’t like, understand how you work and how you interact with people. The Self-Leadership course provides space and time for this reflection, as well as the necessary tools.
Nearly in every group that I have coached, I have seen how people start to question their long-held convictions, and at one moment of the journey or another they leave a session saying “I’m thinking about things in a different way from what I used to before”.