Bertrand Conan is a Marketing Director for STMicroelectronics near Paris. An engineer by training, he has increasingly taken on business and a strategic role – and plans that his next move will be into general management. With that in mind, he recently completed the INSEAD Transition to General Management programme.

Why did you choose the INSEAD programme in particular?

INSEAD offered the right mix of global brand, great teachers and perfect location. Also, the two-times-two-weeks format was just right, as I didn’t have to be away from the office for a whole month. In addition, I was attracted by the fact that it wasn’t pure know-how and included some leadership coaching. I was looking for an eye-opening, mind-opening experience – rather than being stuffed with knowledge!

Why did you feel this need to open your mind?

I’m lucky to work in a great business, but most of us here have a background in engineering so we tend to see the world in the same way as each other. I felt I had too closed a view of the business. Transition to General Management seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to “reprogram”.

And are you reprogrammed?!

I felt like a different guy when I came back to work and I still feel that way! I believe I opened myself to new ways of thinking. I also took away much interesting information. Most of the classes were great, particularly Leadership, Finance, Marketing and strategy.

Is it really possible to change your mind-set in just four weeks?

Definitely. The leadership coaching and teaching was the highlight of the programme in this respect. It was disruptive in a good sense, as it helped me to re-evaluate my attitude as a Manager quite significantly. The whole programme teaches you why you should move from giving answers to asking questions, from telling people what to do to guide them in the right direction. The diversity of the participants was also a major factor in changing the way I thought.

How exactly does the diversity of participants make a difference?

The goal is to see things differently. So it’s essential to meet people who look at the world differently from yourself. And my fellow participants from the Netherlands, the USA, and Asia… they all showed me a different dynamic from France. It was also good to work alongside people from other industries and younger executives. I’m 50, so was probably one of the oldest on the programme. And I think I was able to contribute something as a result. I’ve had a chance to learn from bad times as well as good times, after all.

Are you still in touch with other participants?

I’m still tightly connected with my peer group (we are four) and I built a network of 20 to 30 people whom I feel I can access any time. And the rest I can contact as I need to. The French TGM ’11 community meets up in Paris from time to time, I recently met up with one friend in Munich and another is coming to France from South Africa in June. But be warned… networking during the programme can involve a lot of good food and wine. I put on weight during both modules – which is another good reason to have a break between them!

Finally, would you recommend transition to general management to others?

I already have recommended it to several people. And one of my friends from my company has enrolled. Honestly, it’s a great programme!

Source:
 https://www.insead.edu/executive-education/interviews/general-management/strategic-role

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