News at Smith

Cultivating Perseverance: A China EMBA Alumni Spotlight

Oct 27, 2016


Pursuing an EMBA degree from the Smith School of Business is how I cultivate my perseverance.Alain Desvignes’ work experience spans 15 years. While studying as an EMBA student at the Smith School in Beijing, Alain served as director of operations at Ozonia, SUEZ Group, and was responsible for the operations across Asia.

He worked for more than a decade in the water treatment industry through various roles, including bid management, engineering, contract management and operations.

In the early years of his career, Alain worked as a water engineer for the Red Cross in war-affected areas in Africa. He has lived in many places across Africa, Asia and Australia.

Alain was kind enough to agree to speak with us about his experience in the program.

Why did you choose the Smith School’s EMBA over other options?

The cross-functional business knowledge I gained at Smith has been invaluable, but there are two reasons I chose Smith’s Global Leadership EMBA program.

First, it’s a knowledge-based program and top-ranked in the United States. Rather than a watered-down MBA degree, I wanted a program that was the real deal so I could actually learn fresh ideas and leadership skills, which I could then immediately apply to my job. The business knowledge, including strategic management, business development, marketing and finance that I gained at Smith were incredibly beneficial for helping me both succeed in the workplace and make changes to my community.

Second, pursuing an EMBA is my way of cultivating my perseverance. I want to train my mind so I’m prepared to overcome all challenges that may come along in life. It’s similar to running a marathon.

What was your biggest challenge in completing your degree?

My biggest challenge was time management. I needed to balance a rigorous academic program and a demanding job, along with other aspects of my life such as family, friends and social activities.

It truly made a lasting impact on my life when I mastered that balance. The key was prioritizing. Once I was able to do that during my time at the Smith School, I never stopped.

How did the EMBA program impact your long-term career goals?

With the tools and techniques I learned at Smith and the entrepreneurial spark I acquired from my classmates, I want to pursue my entrepreneurial interests or move up to the C-suite in my current firm in five years. This program enhanced my credibility to manage the many facets of my job and prepared me to be a more well-rounded person.

Looking back, what do you think was the most valuable part of the experience?

I truly appreciate the comprehensive business foundation I’ve built at Smith. The program is well thought-out. The professors are top notch. And the alumni network is broad and diversified.

Now that I’ve graduated, my life feels enriched. I’m sure I’ll consistently apply the knowledge gained to my work and leverage the network Smith provided me, as well as continue to help and be helped by the Smith alumni community.

About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty master's, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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