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Croissants, Careers And Entrepreneurship: Why I Chose France For My MBA

Croissants, Careers And Entrepreneurship: Why I Chose France For My MBA

Written by Marco De Novellis for Business Because

Elie Maalouli relocated from Canada to kick-start his career at emlyon business school

“Doing an MBA in France is like taking a year-long honeymoon in your dream destination,” says Elie Maalouli, an MBA student at emlyon business school.

Enchanted by the French style de vie – the work-life balance, the opportunities for careers, entrepreneurship, and, of course, the food – Elie relocated from Canada to pursue an MBA in Lyon. Born and raised in North America, with middle eastern roots, he sees an MBA in France as the perfect launch-pad to take his career to the global stage.

A trained engineer, Elie has had a passion for entrepreneurship from a young age. At school, he undercut the vending machines to sell drinks to his friends. At university, he started a small venture manufacturing and selling longboards.

Elie graduates from emlyon business school early next year, and has already received two job offers. But in the future, he wants to start his own business. With an MBA from one of France’s most innovation-focused schools, he’s well-placed to do so.

  • Why did you decide to pursue an MBA in France?

I have always been fascinated by business. The purpose of doing an MBA was to gain a new understanding of doing business in an international context. A few years ago I backpacked in France. I fell in love with all the towns and villages I visited, as well as the people. I enjoyed that trip so much, that I felt that I needed to go back.

The best things about life in France are the work-life balance, the sense of adventure when traveling through the country, the ability to embrace your passion, and being able to get a fresh baguettes and croissants every morning from your favorite bakery!

Plus, some of the top European business schools are in France, and there are many international companies and startups competing in this ever-growing international market.

  • What stood out about emlyon business school in particular?

emlyon business school  offered an International Strategy specialization that really interested me. There’s opportunity for international exchange, there’s huge diversity within the cohort, and the class size (43 students) is small, creating a more personal relationship between the cohort and the professors.

Lyon is also a very well-located city; a few hours from Paris, Switzerland, Italy, the Mediterranean and the Alps.

  • What should applicants think about when deciding to do an MBA?

Have a rough vision of where you want to be and what you want to accomplish with the MBA. I hoped to work in France, for this reason I focused on French schools.

Companies will not necessarily recognize your previous educational institution, or your previous employer, if they are not from the same country.

  • How have you profited from your MBA experience so far?

I have traveled the world without needing to leave Lyon. We have 23 nationalities in our cohort. I couldn’t ask for a better cultural integration experience than that!

I also did an international exchange at Lancaster School of Management in the UK. And the class had a mandatory trip to Finland where we took a course on the Nordic way of business at the University of Oulu and worked on a project at the Alto design factory in Helsinki.

  • What are your plans for the future?

I plan to start off working for a company, but in the long term I hope to work for myself. My mind is filled with all sorts of new venture ideas, from opening a cafe chain to starting a consulting firm specializing in international business development.

  • How will the emlyon MBA help you achieve your goals?

emlyon’s program has not only opened my eyes to what you can do as an entrepreneur, it’s given me the tools to develop my ideas and one day make them reality.

We’ve had a ‘new ventures’ class where we created a feasibility study for an idea that we will later present to a jury of actual investors and entrepreneurs who have gone through the process before.

It’s given me a strong theoretical and practical base to create new business, lead a team, and adapt myself to work in a multicultural environment.


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