Recently appointed ambassador of the new MSc in Strategy and Consulting of emlyon business school, Mehdi Mekhneche had an unusual life course, to say the least, before joining the School in September 2020. While studying, he is also leading a career as a High-Level judo athlete, and is a brand new entrepreneur who just started his own firm Mekhneche Consulting.
From an early age, Mehdi was always into sports; he developed a great resilience and a strong combative temperament as he experienced high precarious circumstances and witnessed the sacrifices his mother had to make. Born from a mother who was a former High-Level track & field athlete, he started judo at 8 years old at the Cercle Maillot in Paris.
That’s where he met his coach, Julien Nabarra, the person who would change the course of his young life. Gradually, the relationship between Mehdi and his coach grew beyond a simple trainer-trainee relationship, season after season, Julien turned into a father figure for Mehdi, allowing him to move through stages of life and achieve his Judo belts.
Julien supported Mehdi in his daily sport practice but also in his personal life, by accepting his fiery temperament and by teaching him how to channel it, and only keep its positive aspects once on the Tatami.
The decisive wake-up call for his professional career took place for him at the age of 12, after losing the Minime 2 regional championship for the second time around. Following this setback, he decided to do everything to succeed and enter the regional circle for young talents. To this effect, the young judoka pushed himself forward and in 2010, he entered the National French Circle in Strasbourg in the Junior category, all the while passing his Baccalaureate with a major in Social & Economy.
At the height of his sports career, Mehdi won 3rd place in the European Cup U21 in 2013, and 2 other titles in the French University Championship in 2015 and 2016. In parallel, he took up to train in Sambo (a Russian combat sport) and wrestling as well. In 2017, he was France Champion in Sambo, and 3rd in the French wresting championship.
On the academic side Mehdi was not one to be outdone, and cumulated from 2014 to 2020, a Master in International Business Management at the University of Tunghai in Taiwan, then a Master in Negotiation and Business Management via an apprenticeship, before entering the MSc in Strategy and Consulting of emlyon business school.
Thanks to his background as an international judoka, Mehdi developed many a quality easily transferrable to his new professional career, such as perseverance, a taste for challenge, a leader’s temperament and a high resistance to stress. Following a long-lasting injury, he had to put his sports career on hold, and started travelling and diversifying his professional experience. He was alternately Key Account Manager (KAM) for a year in Chile in the spirits industry, a trainee during an internship in a consulting agency, and since August 2018, a consultant in corporate risk at Creditsafe.
Today, while taking a Master at emlyon, Mehdi launched in October 2020 his own strategy consulting firm: Mekhneche Consulting. He provides counselling to High-Level athletes, artists, and comedians for their career, and acts as agent, manager or even negotiator for their sponsoring contracts. In this trade, Mehdi wants more than a mere "agent-client” relationship, much as the role his former coach played in his life. Julien did “not just make a champion out of me no matter what, but first and foremost, he helped me become a man”; Identically, Medhi wants to build a trust-based relationship with his clients, one of close proximity and long-lasting. He wants to bring to the table the human values he thrived onto during his sports career, during which he experienced his best moments, individually and collectively.
In addition to the academic excellence of emlyon business school and its Early Makers spirit, showing notably in the opening-up of the School’s shareholding in 2020, Mehdi found at emlyon values that reinforced his choice:
“After meeting with Mickael Romézy - Director of the Sports Makers - I could see that emlyon comprehended what being an athlete The, that we are a genuine asset, and that in tomorrow’s business, we will be ambassadors, managers and co-workers of great value. High-Level athletes are also forged on basic values such as gratefulness and loyalty, we believe in giving back to those who have helped us. “
Mehdi wants to promote a certain spirit, giving credit to all High-Level athletes in France, where the “non-champions” sacrifice as much as the best athletes but for too little gratification. He regrets that some of these athletes sometimes live in precarious conditions. He wants to be the bridge with the highest offices in sports, such as the Department of Sports attached to the Ministry of Education, to implement certifications for training sessions of 6-months, alternating between courses and in company periods. His business model is based on the idea that tuition fees for the education of High-Level athletes should be financed by a mix of public and private funding.
No doubt, in the years to come, Medhi will be a busy man. He sees himself as evolving in the world of consultancy while graduating from his MSc in Strategy and Consulting. On a shorter-term basis, he is getting ready for an international university competition taking place in Shenzou (China), from August 08th to 19th, 2021, where he will be the first Judoka to ever compete at the highest level for emlyon business school. Go Mehdi, Go!