Listen to this article
Gautier Porot is studying for an EMBA at IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland and has designs for his own project
I am a couple of years younger than most of my peers at IMD. When the school chose me for the EMBA they said: “We’ll accept you even if you’re young because you have a unique profile and a special set of experiences.” That was when I knew it was the right programme for me — they were not looking for “GMAT smart” guys who excel at the business school entry test, they were looking for interesting people.
Even though I am only 33, I have 14 years of experience working in security, risk intelligence and the military. I started serving as a Swiss guard in the Vatican when I was 18. It was my dream since I was a little boy. I wanted to serve my faith.
It was quite a particular time in my life, being 18 and facing the heads of state, dealing with the protocols, the diplomatic dimensions, the faith of all the believers and the tourists. The Swiss guard operates like a real army, providing security services and protecting the borders of the Vatican state and the Holy Father. As a Swiss guard you swear a lifelong oath to the guard and the Holy Father, promising to sacrifice your life for them if necessary. That is why I now have Vatican citizenship, alongside my Swiss and French passports.
After two years, I went on to work as a commanding officer for the Swiss Ministry of Defence and later as a junior manager with the Paris-based security group, Amarante International. I also had the honour to be the chief security officer and chief information security officer for the Swiss Federal Chancellery, safeguarding the physical security of all the ministers and their data.
Aside from my work experiences, I have a masters in criminology from Panthéon-Assas University in Paris, a diploma of general management and military leadership, and a certificate in business intelligence and protection of assets, reputation and information from IHEDN (the Institute of Higher National Defence Studies) in Paris. My CV is the colour of camouflage, so to say.
I have learnt a lot from working in risk management and intelligence operations in politics, government and the private sector. Then I came to a point in my career where I wanted to make the best of what I know. I wanted to consolidate my corporate knowledge.
A full-time MBA was never an option for me as I wanted to keep working. I was looking for a dynamic experience — something I could quickly apply to my business as a risk intelligence consultant. I love my field and I wanted to go to a business school that was not too academic, but linked to reality. Then you have the diversity of the class — insights from 27 industries and countries right at your fingertips.
The teaching at IMD can be split into three dimensions. One is the face-to-face element, when we meet in Lausanne in the school’s big amphitheatre-type rooms. We have entertaining teachers who help create an environment where people ask questions, interact with each other and have real discussion. Everybody brings a perspective to the table, not just the teacher. We all learn from each other. It is a good dynamic.
The second dimension is the group assignment. It is a bit more challenging as it requires flawless digital organisation and agenda co-ordination to accommodate for time zones and families. It is not my favourite part, but it is the only solution when doing an executive MBA with people from all over the world.
The last part is the personal assignment. You do it within your core field of business, applying what you know and extending your knowledge in the direction you want to take your career. There is real added value in being able to apply what you learn directly to your business. I am currently developing a new product as my assignment. I cannot say too much about it, as it is a work in progress, but I am looking at non-conservative techniques, such as searching the deep and dark web, in order to better protect high-value organisations and families from threats such as kidnapping.
I would love to develop my idea within a big company — a great company with a good group dynamic has to be the best place to be. But I also like my current entrepreneurship lifestyle. You wake up every morning with the mandate to go and fight for your bread. It is very challenging and I like it. I am definitely pulling myself out of my comfort zone right now.