When you choose to move from a country such as India with a population almost double that of the entire continent where you are continuing your studies, you should be prepared for quite a shock. Not so for Anupaul Debnath, for whom the contrast was an opportunity above all else. He recounts his very conscious search for the intimacy and diversity of Europe, France and Lyon and his current city of residence and work, Berlin.
You left a country of over 1.3 billion people for Lyon. Why so radical a change of surroundings?
Well, my thinking was first a toss-up between the US and Europe. I quickly made my mind up as I felt the latter would offer more diversity of cultures and countries, plus a greater ease of access to those countries and cultures. I had the travel bug and Europe seemed the best option to feed it. I was also very quickly sold on the idea of Lyon, especially given what emlyon business school had to offer.
Tell us more about your choice of school and what attracted you the most.
Once I had identified my preference for an MBA I also looked for a specialization that would represent a departure from my more technological background at Bachelor’s level back in India. I was especially attracted by the Marketing and Luxury Management specialization within the emlyon International MBA as it gave me the opportunity to work in multi-cultural groups whilst developing entrepreneurial and leadership skills. Not only did I have the travel bug but also a natural passion and curiosity for meeting and working with people from all over the world. What also appealed to me in emlyon business school was the manageable size of the cohort, meaning you could work in relatively intimate surroundings and in smallish groups. This is key to meaningful groupwork and interaction with your peers. I also had the benefit of a scholarship and was extra keen to take advantage of the school’s business incubator. In short, emlyon was the perfect fit.
The appeal of the school and destination seem clear. However, what challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?
There was an inevitable linguistic shock, one which in hindsight underlined the importance of equipping yourself with the language before you arrive. The cohort was truly diverse, so in terms of studies it wasn’t the end of the world as we used English but for day-to-day life it’s essential. However, we benefitted from French immersion classes and an introduction to the local and national gastronomy, one of the pillars of the country’s culture. And like I said before, I was seeking a multi-cultural, multi-country experience so when travel and exchange opportunities to the World Economic Forum, Finland and Italy came up during the program, I grabbed them with both hands.
Since graduating in 2018, you have moved from Lyon to Berlin. What made you opt for Germany and Berlin? Business, pleasure, or both?
To be absolutely honest, I had a solid job offer from Deezer in France. However, I didn’t want to find myself “forced” to properly learn a language purely as a job requirement. I would far rather do so out of passion for a language and its culture. Consequently, when an opportunity arose in Germany working in English in a highly diverse team for iMuscian Digital AG as a Lead Business Intelligence Manager, I took the plunge. That said, I am working on my German every day in order to get the most out of the country and culture. Oh, and I must also confess to a small guilty pleasure. I absolutely love techno music and Berlin is one of the major capitals of the techno scene!
You now hold the position of Head of Business Intelligence at QUARTERS Co-living. What aspects of your International MBA in Lyon are still serving you today?
Of the various skills I acquired back in my emlyon days, I would say leadership and stakeholder management above all, especially when dealing with multi-cultural groups of people. Not so long ago I found myself coordinating with counterparts in Mexico and Japan which, along with India, have very different ways of working. I also have fond memories of the Design Thinking classes at Lyon and these still help me today in having the flexibility required to meet challenges and learn to compromise to make teamwork a success. I am also called upon to establish a good marketing mix in my current job and manage budgets accordingly, something for which the Marketing classes at emlyon business school thoroughly prepared me for. I might now be living the next step of my cultural and professional trip around Europe, but France and Lyon have never left me!