Antoine NATTA worked with us at Arsha Consulting on a two-and-a-half month internship project in the defence and aviation sector. This internship was mandatory for the completion of his MBA as part of the exchange programme between ESC Pau in France and the National School of Business Bangalore.According to the Embassy of India in Paris, over 300 MoUs (Memorandum of Understanding) have been signed between French and Indian universities and private institutes, allowing students and professors from both countries to participate in various exchange programmes.

These collaborations have opened new horizons, both personal and professional, for young graduates.

We asked Antoine to share his experiences of this dual degree exchange programme and to give us his impressions of India and its culture…

 Tell us a little bit about your academic background and what brought you here…I did a BAC Scientifique (equivalent to the HSC-Science stream) and after a year at the Faculté des Sciences d’Orsay (The science department of a Parisian university), I did a BTS (French vocational diploma) in Management of Business Units at Paris. I then left to work for two years in Australia, in Sydney and in farms in the Outback, and then returned to France to give the common entrance test for the “Grandes Ecoles” management schools. I selected ESC Pau, first for a Masters in International Business, as part of which I did a five-month internship in the sales department of an American luxury hotel chain in Cancun in Mexico. I got my Master’s degree in France and am in Bangalore now for my France-India MBA.

I always wanted an international career and I chose ESC Pau for my Master’s in International Business mainly because the school offered the possibility to study abroad. I hadn’t initially planned on doing an MBA too, but when a seat was freed up in the MBA-India programme offering the chance to directly enter in the final year of the programme and spend 6 months at the National School of Business in Bangalore, I seized the opportunity. Other students left to study in Mexico, in the US…

What degree will you get at the end of this course?

Following my internship, I will have three degrees: a Masters in International Sales and Negotiation and Multicultural Management, an India-France MBA awarded by ESC Pau and a third Indian degree from the School of Business Bangalore.

That’s a great selling point on your CV!

Absolutely, and even if the fees for the programme are quite high, I consider it as an investment. The most interesting part is the internship in the company to prepare our end-of-year business project.

How does this exchange programme work exactly?

The ESC Pau MBA is offered in collaboration with many institutes across the world: In India, it’s offered in partnership with the National School of Business, well known for its management programme. The common programme of one year admits 22 students: 11 French and 11 Indian. The Indian students spend 6 months in France and then we all spend 6 months in India. Being in the same class together in both schools allows us to get to know each other and adapt better to the new country and culture.

For most foreigners, the first contact with India is not always easy… what was your experience?

There was a culture shock, yes. The poverty and misery in India are difficult to see; I also feel that India is skipping important steps in its development. While the contract for 126 Rafales is good, India also needs infrastructure, toilets, efforts to improve hygiene, health… I also got the impression that the caste system still divides Indian society… and it’s not always easy to understand the relations between Indians themselves.

How did it go in class?

We faced some difficulties in the beginning – getting used to the accent of the professors, adjusting to their teaching rhythm … contrary to the teaching method in France, we found that the courses were more theoretical … however, the professors really know their subjects. The class felt more formal than in France, there were fewer debates and discussions with the professors…

And your internship ?

In two words : just great! Even though we had already worked with Indian students in class and on common projects, such a small group was not really representative of the diversity and richness of the Indian population.

Working in a French-Canadian company, alongside Indian, French and Canadian colleagues – who were more professional and mature than the students we had met – was a revelation. Not all of my classmates were lucky enough to do their business project in a company, which gave them a project, like mine did. I was able to have this experience in a company thanks to Mrs Abbo, my professor et ESC Pau and my boss Loïc Lecomte. And moreover, this project that I worked on was very concrete and in the sales-marketing domain, which was exactly my cup of tea!

How would you sum up this Indian Adventure?

Six months ago, even Carrefour, the giant of French retailing, shut down its Indian operations -- the market is so complex and many French companies are apprehensive about entering it.
For me, I’m proud to be able to say that I’ve worked in India and it’s also a valuable experience to sell to recruiting companies.

Companies today are looking for people who are internationally savvy, who can work in multicultural teams, who can learn fast and adapt easily to cultures very different from their own – fit into the globalised world, in fact!

What’s the next port of call?

I don’t plan to return to France since the market is too saturated; in fact, globally I wouldn’t advise working in Europe at this time. I really would like to return to Australia… it’s a country where people work really hard but are very relaxed at the same time, without being less productive. I’m going to look for a job in sales/negotiation. I’m definitely going to work in the international domain.

Thank you to Antoine who brightened up our office with his laugh and his sense of humour and showed a lot of perseverance to successfully achieve a project full of challenges. We wish him the best of luck in his future career!

Bhargavi Venugopal | International Project Manager
Arsha Consulting

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