Christine Esseiva (EMBA, DAS Strategic Marketing & Communication, 2012 - 2014), Communications and Marketing Manager, Multimedia Editor.
Change is at the core of Christine’s profession. She tells us how through constant learning and adaption she was able to navigate her team through some of the major transformations, and why an MBA degree is worth the efforts.
Moving to green energy
For more than ten years, I worked as a head of communications and marketing for a real estate company with offices in Geneva and Lausanne, leading a team of 10 people. A significant disruption in the company’s operations came around 2008 with a start of a strong CSR movement towards green energy. Modifications of buildings with a view to improve their energy efficiency and introduce renewable energy sources promised potential savings in the financial costs and reduced environmental impact.
Back then, it was still a new concept. Big initial investment was obvious, whereas benefits were not very well understood, leaving many of the clients unconvinced. To bring about change in their mindset, we did two things. Firstly, we focused on concrete and tangible benefits, such as savings in energy bills, subsidies and tax benefits provided by the government to support conversion to green energy, and higher market value of the property driven by its sustainability. Secondly, we consistently repeated this message through different channels, including newsletters, articles and emails. Our efforts gradually brought a shift in perception.
Today, a similar shift occurs in the area of digital transformation. As an intermediary between a customer and a property owner, the real estate company experienced a push from both sides towards more interactive digital platforms. It was driven by the increasing demand for a direct access to information, transparency and 24/7 availability.
In order to adjust to these changes, we had to transform the way our team operated. The process involved training the existing team, while also hiring new talent. Some strategic aspects, such as data privacy and cybersecurity, suddenly emerged to be of primary importance.
These two examples from my career clearly illustrate the necessity of constant training. In order to be able to lead your team through a transformation process, you need to upgrade your own skill set first.
Never stop learning - this is the best advice I have ever received. The world is constantly changing, and your vision, as well as your operational skills, should keep pace with it.
From this point of view, the MBA program at UNIGE was invaluable. I started with EMBA, which gave me a broad overview of the managerial practices, strategy and finance aspects. For my second year, I narrowly focused on my specialization - marketing and communications. I was working and raising a family at the same time as I was doing the program, balancing my job and kids with classes, workshops over Skype and assignments during weekends. But it was totally worth it.
Compared to the other courses and trainings I did before, the MBA program provided me, in quite a unique way, with a bird’s eye view of different strategic and operational aspects of companies. Instead of giving a single ready-made solution to a concrete problem, the program teaches to adapt to a new environment and develop relevant solutions fit for new scenarios. Not less importantly, the diploma lent me additional credibility, and, in a way, validated my new skills.
Another important component of the MBA program is its focus on developing soft skills and abilities to effectively cooperate with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures and with very different working styles. It provides many platforms for networking, which I believe is a primary way to get first-hand insights into new technologies and trends in different industries. Five years after the graduation, I am still involved with the program as part of the corporate liaising committee, helping to organize conferences that connect businesses and MBA students.