Michelle Zhu joined the Master in Management – Grande Ecole program at emlyon business school in 2014 after completing her bachelor's degree in China. She is now a finance and digital transformation manager with more than 6 years of experience in technology and management consulting firms. Michelle provides services to companies and organizations from different industries, mainly helping them with digital and financial transformation related projects
How was your academic career at emlyon?
The program offers a complete range of core management and specialization courses for students from diverse backgrounds. In the first year of the Master in Management – Grande Ecole, I took all the fundamental courses covering a wide range of disciplines from strategy, finance to marketing, supply chain etc. And in the second year, I was enrolled in a series of elective courses to deepen my knowledge according to my areas of interest and work agenda. Some of these courses were taught in French, while others in English.
Parallel to my academic course, I have also acquired 18 months of work experience (a 6-month internship and a 12-month apprenticeship) in a French automotive company as a program controller, where I was able to acquire professional skills through a very practical experience. It was not always easy to find a balance between work and study, and to manage the stressful rhythm. The Employer Engagement Manager from the school at that time provided me with support and coaching, which was valuable for a young student, and I appreciated it very much.
As an emlyon business school student, I have also had the opportunity to participate in many different career and social events organized by emlyon, which helped me to build my first network in France as foreign student.
What about your involvement with associations?
There were many student associations at emlyon. As an international student, I was very lucky to be selected as a member of the association “Jeunes Ambassadeurs d’Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes”, where I had the opportunity to discover the regional culture and ecosystem through a series of networking events with local economic actors.
What do you think is emlyon's strength?
emlyon is an internationally renowned business school and one of its strengths is the employability of its graduates. For my part, I have got my first CDI job offer (permanent contract) in a well-known consulting firm before finishing my last year of studies through a career forum organized on the campus. I accepted this first job offer and have since worked in consulting firms in France and in China, from young consultant to senior consultant to manager.
What has emlyon brought you?
The diversified and multidisciplinary courses at emlyon and the 18 months professional experience have allowed me to develop a good business sense and the necessary transversal skills, which have been proven invaluable later in my professional life. Most importantly, this extremely rewarding journey helped me to identify my career aspirations and develop the necessary skills.
Can you tell us more about your professional background?
I started my career as a junior consultant in a prestigious consulting firm after graduating from the Master in Management – Grande Ecole program at emlyon business school. I worked with clients in the financial services sector, helping them to optimize their processes with new technologies. I then moved to other Big 4 consulting firms, where I helped companies in various sectors to transform their finance function, develop digital capabilities and improve performance. Consulting has always been my passion, and I believe I can continue to add value to organizations and help them succeed in any transformation journey.
The alumni network: Myth or Reality?
emlyon one day, emlyon forever! The alumni network has a strong presence in France and around the world and regularly organizes alumni network events . I have attended several events organized in Paris and they were a good place to meet inspiring profiles from different years of promotion, now working in different fields and all having a different success story. This alumni network I built with emlyon has been an invaluable resource in my professional life .
How have you cultivated an entrepreneurial spirit in your career?
During my time at emlyon and at work, I have always been exposed to a dynamic learning environment that encourages innovation, out-of-the-box thinking and entrepreneurial mindset.
One of the key lessons I take away from my academic and professional experiences is the importance of seizing opportunities and taking calculated risks. I have always known how to manage my own career, and I have always been inspired by my senior colleagues and coaches at work who come from different backgrounds and different cultures, who have started their own entrepreneurial ventures, and who are eager to share their experiences.
I have also learned to approach each project as if it were my own start-up, always thriving on tackling complex challenges, challenging conventional methodologies, and seeking innovative solutions adapted to the client context. This approach has allowed me to successfully complete several projects.
In conclusion, what I learned at emlyon has proven to be a valuable asset in my professional and personal life. I am deeply grateful for the experience, knowledge, and network that emlyon business school has provided me with, and I look forward to continuing my journey with the same zeal and determination.
A word for candidates about to join emlyon?
As you prepare to join emlyon, I hope you know three things:
- It is important to be yourself and follow your dreams. So, think about who you are, what you want to do later in life, and prepare yourself through your future studies.
- Take advantage of opportunities, both at school and at work, if they align with your long-term goals.
- Enjoy your future school life to the fullest. Lyon is a charming city, the capital of the Gauls and famous for its incredible heritage. It is also known as the world capital of gastronomy.
I wish you a successful journey at emlyon!