Valérie Madon is the director of the EMBA programme at ESCP Europe, which she originally joined in 2000 to run the Masters in European Business programme.
As part of her role as EMBA director – a post she has held since 2011 – Prof Madon helps manage a women’s network for her students and graduates, in partnership with the networks of the business school alumni from other courses. Her team also recently started collaborating with the European Professional Women’s Network. Women currently make up 25 per cent of the 85 students graduating in 2013 – a number they would like to boost.
Prof Madon has a masters in management from ESCP Europe and a PhD, specialising in financial accounting, from HEC Paris. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and playing golf.
1. What is an average day at work like?
As the ESCP Europe EMBA spans all our five campuses in Paris, London, Berlin, Madrid and Turin, and incorporates visits to fast-growing countries such as India and Brazil, my team has to deal with a lot of complexity. It’s worth it though, as it makes the job more interesting and the students’ experience richer.
2. What do you enjoy most about your job?
Being able to convince students who were not at first interested in financial accounting that this subject is important for them – all the more so because they will probably one day be general managers, in charge of the financial statements of their companies
3. What is the strangest thing you have ever done when teaching?
Once, after several unsuccessful explanations of a difficult concept, I started singing in class to relax the atmosphere. It was a success!
4. What is the worst job you have ever had?
No worst job but maybe the most difficult one was teaching financial accounting to a group of adults who had been out of work for several years. I must say that this subject was of the least interest to them at that time in their lives!
5. How do you deal with pressure?
As I have been working for almost 30 years now, I have a better personal approach to managing pressure. I try not to let work interfere with my personal life, especially at night. I think I am a dedicated person in my job, I always do my best to succeed in the projects that I am in charge of. I feel much more confident in my capacities and skills and therefore much more capable of handling pressure.
6. What is the best piece of advice given to you by a teacher?
Be able to say that you do not know the answer to a question asked by one of your students, but say that you will address the matter carefully and give the answer during the next session. There is no shame in not knowing everything, but it is bad to pretend you know answers when you do not.
7. What advice would you give to women in business?
I would definitely advise women in business to be confident in themselves and not to fear others. They should be confident in their skills and in their convictions. This is one of the reasons we are offering women (among other under-represented groups) scholarships for our EMBA programme – to encourage them to be more bold about their futures.
8. What is your favourite business book?
Strategic Management by Johnson, Scholes and Wittington
9. What is your life philosophy?
Life is short. Enjoy it!
10. What are your future plans?
My future plan is to build on our current position in the FT EMBA rankings for each of our five campus countries. I am also continuing to focus on increasing the diversity of students on our EMBA, boosting scholarships targeted at candidates from small to medium-sized enterprises, non-governmental organisations, less-developed countries and, of course, women leaders.