VALERIE DE LAUNAY
Founder, InnerWays, France
Valerie de Launay shares her experience of the Advanced Management Programme and how it helped her develop her self-awareness and deepen her vision for her career
CAN YOU PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF?
I have spent my career working in HR and communications in both French and international companies. I started as a Consultant and then over 20 years, I worked for a number companies, including EGIS, Malakoff Mederic and GE.
I developed strong expertise in HR, law and sustainability and reached the Executive VP level. Some of the areas I have worked in include corporate transformation, turnarounds, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and governance relationships.
I have recently started my own HR consulting company, InnerWays.
WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THE ADVANCED MANAGEMENT PROGRAMME?
I had come to a point in my career where I wanted a break. After 20 years working in a corporate environment, I felt I needed a change in order to reshape my professional life. I was looking for more meaning in a new role, with really different challenges. I wanted to think out of the box, to exchange views and opinions with different people and to develop new leadership skills in a multicultural environment. I also wanted to attend a complete general management programme which would enhance my performance.
I first came to INSEAD in 2014 to do the Finance for Executives programme. It was then that I heard about the Advanced Management Programme (AMP), which was strongly recommended by the executives I met. It appeared to be the best mix between business overview and leadership development. The duration of 4 weeks was also a draw.
I think it was important to start with Finance For Executives. It gave me a good business overview. I really enjoyed the teaching, the network and the overall quality of the programme. It definitely influenced my decision to come back.
For the Advanced Management Programme, the fact I could do it in Singapore was also important. I saw this as a way of reinforcing my international experience. I wanted to immerse myself in another world and enter a multi-cultural environment. AMP certainly gave me that.
WHAT WERE YOUR EXPECTATIONS?
My main objective was to expand my horizons, to explore a new leadership mindset and to gain new insights into general business management.
I wanted to get a deeper understanding of complex international business issues and to reinforce my ability to build a strong vision for business, through innovative solutions.
I also expected to meet people with the same professional level as mine and to get feedback from peers, coaches and professors in order to enhance my leadership.
WERE THERE ANY PARTICULAR CHALLENGES THAT YOU WANTED TO ADDRESS?
My main challenge was to define my next professional steps, whilst making use of my previous experiences in small or international groups. I had already the willingness to create my own company, but I needed to be challenged on that project, after 20 years as an executive.
DO YOU THINK THE PROGRAMME HAS HELPED YOU RISE TO THESE CHALLENGES?
Yes, definitely! The programme helped me to define my professional expectations, my strengths, my goals and above all, my purpose. What do I want to give back?
The strategic challenge allowed me to work deeply on the position I wanted to have and accelerated the transition from an executive role to an advisor role.
The AMP is a very good way to develop a new vision, going behind assumptions.
HOW BENEFICIAL WAS THE PROGRAMME GIVEN YOUR EXPERIENCE?
Very. It gave me insights about myself and my career that I perhaps wouldn’t have without the AMP.
The fact that I was with peers with a strong sense of business was very important. It created a unique environment in which everyone is at the same level and in which you can say what you want without being judged. Everyone was eager to help, providing honest feedback. You dive into yourself to discover your inner-game. The group work, workshops and coaching, combined with the business models we discussed during the programme was all very important and helped me develop my leadership skills.
In fact, I keep on using what I learned on the programme. I regularly come back to my notes.
HOW DID THE PROGRAMME GIVE YOU THE CONFIDENCE TO MAKE YOUR CAREER MOVE?
The coaching, and the sessions on vision, dreaming and ethics really helped with this. It was during these that we delved into our inner-game. They helped me realise who I am as a leader and as a person and what my past professional and personal experiences could bring to my future career move.
Think of a future without limits. What would you want to do, to achieve? The sessions helped me to dream as much as possible and to design a new professional life.
After this alone time, we expressed our thoughts in groups. It was a very innovative way of going about it.
The idea for my new venture, and the confidence to carry it out, came from there. The AMP helped put onto paper the idea of creating my own company.
WHAT DID THE AMP TEACH YOU ABOUT EXERCISING JUDGEMENT?
It taught me to not go too fast. Be receptive to other ideas and get the most out of them. There will always be people who think differently and to really exercise the best judgement, you need to integrate all of these different views.
WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT THE NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES?
They were great and it was a big plus of the programme. I am still in touch with my peers and we share news and questions. I came away with a strong professional and personal network. Working in small, open-minded groups over the four weeks of the programme, you realise that despite the cultural differences, we are all human beings with same questions and with same difficulties as managers and leaders. It was very powerful.
SO, THERE WAS TIME FOR FUN OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM TOO?
Yes, the atmosphere within the group was really friendly and supportive. As we all spent four weeks far from home and family, the group was important. We had a lot of fun, during many activities, diners and week-ends. We’ve all kept in touch and are currently planning a reunion in Abu Dhabi in 2016.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE PROGRAMME TO SOMEONE?
I would say there is a before AMP and an after AMP and I’d recommend it without hesitation. The international aspect is a big draw and it’s a top level programme. It’s a great opportunity to take a break in your career and personal life and to challenge your assumptions, your views and your decision-making.
It’s a chance to design the next step in your life and to learn from others who have different backgrounds from your own. You get fantastic, honest and realistic feedback from peers who help you dream as much as possible.
The Advanced Management Programme is more than a leadership programme. Everybody comes back with a lot of tools, thoughts, willingness and decisions. The world of work and routine is far away which allows you to refresh your business needs and develop your leadership.
More than this, it is a life-long journey with great content, reflective conversations and structured coaching sessions. It was a very exciting learning experience!
Finally, the programme also opens the door to the alumni, which is a good way to continue the spirit of the programme.