2021 Best & Brightest EMBAs: Charles-Henri Sneessens, CEIBS

Charles-Henri Sneessens

CEIBS

Age: 35

“A mix between Engineering and business with a mountaineering adventurer that like to meet people.”

Hometown: Namur, Belgium

Family Members: 5

Undergraduate School and Degree: Ms Eng in Electromechanical System

Where are you currently working? Capgemini Engineering, Head of Global programs APAC, Currently based in Shanghai, soon shifting to New York office.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: I am part of the French Alpine Club as mountaineering/ski touring leader. I have been the leader for young/teenagers association for 7 years. My extracurricular activities have influenced my development and I learned a lot from peers in this non-lucrative involvement.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Starting an EMBA is an important decision and I always believe that we learned more out of the class than during the class. I choose the program with that objective in mind. I still remember the second evening of the opening module where 20 classmates gathered in a bar next to the school for the first informal out of the class session. This was important for the group cohesion!

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? It is always difficult to pick one achievement. But I can probably choose one related to China. During the last three years, I have been working to develop two teams, one engineering center in Xi’an and one Global project management team. It is not an easy task with ups-and-downs. Onboarding the right people is key to success. This business is developing and interesting opportunities are coming. Leading the change in an organization with culture differences, different expectations, and a disruptive model versus what was done during the last 10 years is rich for personal development.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? During an MBA, we learn from interactions with others and not only from professors. “Favorite” depends which criteria we want to consider. Some professors have better interaction with their classes or different teaching methodologies and it can fit more or less the style of students. I probably got the most fruitful learnings from the leadership core module. It was a true interactive class with a professor who made us think and discover by ourselves more than “teaching” class. It struck a right balance between group interactions, self-awareness, and theory cases. The subject made it adequate but it is not given to everyone to teach leadership course.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? I was looking for a global experience, to meet seasoned worldwide executive and experience different teaching practices. I had already enjoyed French and Belgian school experience. Therefore, I was looking for a MBA program outside of these countries.

Several options were possible. CEIBS attracts me because of the three campuses and Global electives on the five continents. CEIBS’ footprint helps to gather students from 20+ nationalities who work in multiple locations across five continents, I believe this international background is key. The variety and quality of the professors are also an important point to address. The GEMBA CEIBS program is able to attract internationally experienced professors and executives to deliver high quality sessions.

Working in Shanghai, a Chinese program helps students to better understand the Chinese specificities, culture, and business. In a summary, CEIBS brings a China depth, Global breadth.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? It’s true that an executive program makes you busy but it helps you to better manage your time. The CEIBS program, with one-week class every 2 months, helped to manage the time easier and delegate to your team members. You impose the timing to the family, but you can also better enjoy the moment with them as the time become more precious.

Traveling for class and global electives allows you to optimize your travel for work and family time. In my case, each time I was flying to Europe, I was able to stop over in Paris for a meeting or stay over few days after the class to meet with family and friends. Today’s connected world helps to overcome these timing difficulties and you can work from anywhere.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Meet with alumni to understand more about the program. It will help to clarify what you are looking for. There are several interesting programs and some schools we don’t have in mind can sometimes bring a better experience. When I started looking for an MBA program, I had no clue about the existence of CEIBS. Meeting alumni and having reference of others was key to understand the program and how it could answer what I was looking for.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? Going back to school after 10 years is a different experience. The eyes are different even when the class looks similar.

It is still a class with a professor, but you have chosen to join it! Excitement, new connections, and a work hard, play hard style brings more fun in the learnings. The diversity of classmates’ backgrounds enrich the journey and you are not losing your time.

What was your biggest regret in business school? It was too short. Don’t hesitate to be fully involved and spend the time. Our program was slightly impacted by the COVID and some of the classmates were not able to follow all the class on time. Keeping the connection and continuing the learning experience beyond the class will be important.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? That’s a tricky question! I don’t think there is only one. Within the class, a lot of different personalities and backgrounds help to open the eyes on many things.

I can still mention one classmate, Jane, who shows an impressive dedication for running and a strong time management to achieve a goal. I admire Jane’s energy for the class but also for the Gobi challenge!

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? I choose an executive program to learn in parallel of the career development. I value the on the job training. I didn’t consider online an alternative as I believe we learn more out of the class than during the class. The time out of the class for online program is probably less intense to connect classmates together. The essential of an EMBA is not the theory, but the experience you share with your classmates.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Professional goals are a continued process development that we revise year-by-year. I currently want to continue to develop my skills with international culture knowledge, skills, and leadership. With globalization, knowing each other is key and I value the cooperation and diversity in the business. I want to lead a global team and one day maybe invest more time in entrepreneurship.

What made Charles-Henri such an invaluable addition to the class of 2021?

Charles-Henri quickly became an influential and valued voice within his Global EMBA class. Central to this effect he had on others was his energetic yet focused demeanour – he was always extremely eager to place himself at the forefront of any activity or debate within the programme. He proactively engaged with everyone in the class, remaining inclusive and open-minded in all his dealings with his peers.

Charles-Henri tempered this high-energy approach to his studies with an admirable level of dedication. Successfully completing an EMBA and graduating during 2020 was no mean feat, due to the multiple obstacles and complications caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic. With this in mind, I’m gratified but not surprised to see that since graduating, Charles-Henri has been rapidly promoted to senior executive within his organisation. With his drive, diligence and dedication, I am eager to see what great things he can achieve when he takes up his new role in the US next year. His expanding global footprint – working and learning across Europe, then Asia Pacific and soon the US – speaks volumes about his flexibility and eagerness to take on new challenges.”

Bala Ramasamy
Professor of Economics
Associate Dean
Director of Global EMBA Programme
CEIBS

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