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Marketing professional from Silicon Valley comes to EMLYON to break into the French job market

Marketing professional from Silicon Valley comes to EMLYON to break into the French job market

The 2017-2018 cohort is made up of 38 individuals from 20 nationalities and a variety of professional backgrounds. Sarah Shakour joined the International MBA from the United States to pursue her ambition of living abroad and learning a new language. Learn more about her experience in the program:

  1. What is your education/professional background?

I have a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Finance from Syracuse University in New York, and upon graduation, moved back to my home state of California where I started working in marketing and communications for Silicon Valley companies over eight years.

  1. Why did you decide to do an MBA and why in Lyon?

I have wanted to pursue my masters for many years, as well as live abroad. I studied French when I was younger, but forgot most of it. France seemed like the obvious place to not only live abroad and learn the language, but for its abundance of top MBA programs in Europe. EMLYON wasn’t only just a top school in France and Europe, but Lyon was large enough to have a social life outside of school without being overwhelmed with the big city feel.

  1. What have been the highlights of the program for you?

First was the Geneva trip. We were fortunate to visit the headquarters of the World Economic Forum and World Trade Organization and learn about each institution from their history, current objectives, and participate in discussions with their employees.

Second has been the ELP project. I’m working with Panzani and I feel very fortunate to work and learn from them.  The whole project has been really challenging, uncomfortable but incredibly rewarding. I wanted to have more B2C experience, and I knew I had a lack in synthesizing data, so the whole project has been something that was in some way, very unfamiliar for me –  both from the actual project scope and working with a team that hail from five different countries.


  1. Have you faced/are you facing any challenges along the way?

After working for a few years, one of the biggest challenges was adapting to student life again. The first four months of the program are really intense, and the type of organization and program management I had as an employee is way different when you’re a student. It took a while to adapt and organize myself with my schoolwork – especially with how fast some of the courses go.

  1. How are you finding the career service support?

Career services has helped me in the sense that it showed me I wasn’t sure what I wanted and pushed me to really find my passion. When I was applying to EMLYON and when I arrived, I imagined myself being in luxury after the program. But after some of the career workshops, I was able to decipher what I like – in terms of industries or certain job roles – and what I didn’t like.  Though I like fashion and beauty in personal life, I realized working in that industry wasn’t for me.

  1. What do you hope to do after the program has finished? 

I hope to stay in Europe for a few years upon completion of the program. Ideally, after some real soul searching and talking to former alumni, I realized I have a strong passion for non-profit organizations and NGOs. I would love to land a job in one of the many organizations in Europe, leveraging my marketing experience and MBA degree.

  1. Do you have any tips for students who will be joining the program in the future?

You think you know what you want out of your MBA, but you’ll be challenged and completely surprised with your journey. Keep an open mind, network with as many people as you can, and absorb the whole experience– both at school and in Lyon. It goes by so fast, so enjoy every moment!


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