Meet an alumnus: doing what you love is key
Mario Sammak graduated from EDHEC’s MSc in Creative Business & Social Innovation in 2022. He is now Country Marketing Specialist at Planet. He shares his EDHEC experience.
What was your background prior to joining EDHEC?
Before joining EDHEC, I was working in data marketing in my home country, Lebanon. I really enjoyed the analytical and technical field I was in but felt that I equally needed a change due to the expanding socio-economic instability that my country was going through, and the eventual narrowing of my career choices as a result. I knew that I had garnered many soft and a fair amount of hard skills throughout my BBA degree and that I had the competency to learn any specific tasks needed for a job, but I still had to change my environment to be able to tap into that potential.
Why did you choose the MSc in Creative Business & Social Innovation?
I am a thorough believer in becoming the best at what you do, whatever that may be. I am equally inclined to say that I believe in leveraging one’s strengths in life in order to maximise momentum and successful results, that is not to say trying new things is wrong, but I simply prefer to reach a certain level of proficiency within any endeavour before moving on to the next one. With the creative path of marketing that I had already begun in mind, I chose a programme that connected reason, relevance, and business models to create operational organisations that feed the soul just as well as they feed the balance sheets.
I think in such career crossroads you never really get to choose the ‘correct’ path, I think the goal is to simply choose any suitable path and make sure that you fully seize that opportunity for all its learning outcomes. In my case, I had a small basis in the French language and was intrigued by the melting pot of cultures that seem to unite in France, and so the decision was relatively easy.
What was your favourite course?
Although all of our courses were taught in a workshop manner and allowed for vast discussion and interaction among peers, I would say the most engaging was that of Lobbying. In this class, we developed an understanding of a certain socio-economic cause and expanded our learning to the point where we were able to defend and create mock debates and seminars around the subject. It is rare to be able to get such a hands-on experience in academia and I appreciated it for being so.
Favourite professor? Your key learnings?
Professors at EDHEC all have a unique point of view to offer, and I think that in most cases, picking favourites comes down to a coincidence of fruitful interactions with the right person. For me, Romain Buquet was a very interesting character to learn from, I felt that he carried his cause at the same level of importance as the business models he operated within, all the while transmitting information in a digestible and intriguing manner. In business-centred studies, it is quite common to see professors showing a preference for certain metrics or purposes when analysing valid ideas, this could be profitability or expandability, etc. With M. Buquet, I felt that a very holistic and well-rounded approach was taken to such decisions and I hope to follow his model of thinking moving forward.
You studied at The American University of Beirut. How different was it to study at EDHEC? How long did it take to adjust to this new learning environment? To Lille?
I studied at a large university, which means I encountered people of all types of backgrounds and study paths, which changed when I came to EDHEC as everyone falls into similar domains of study. That said, I was very lucky to run into many different backgrounds and interests and meet people with a plethora of compelling stories and goals to achieve. I think that my adjusting period was relatively quick, and Lille started to feel like home within the first month, which is one of the great advantages of a mid-sized city. The hospitability of locals and the immense presence of students everywhere, made my introduction and integration into daily life quite easy and for that, I am thankful.
You are the Country Marketing Specialist at Planet. What can you tell us about your role and the company?
There is so much to say but I will start with the fact that Planet is a rapidly growing Fintech company that is based in Ireland and is expanding worldwide with a major focal point in France. I encountered them through the EDHEC portal which gave us a chance to see all the opportunities available on the market.
I had looked at many offers for work upon finishing my studies, but the smooth process and the fact that my recruiting manager, Flavie, was an EDHEC alumnus almost felt like the stars aligned for this job. Today, I am in charge of operational marketing and communication between our local French team as well as the HQ in the UK, so I am able to have visibility on functions in different languages and different work cultures. Looking back now, I am very lucky to have fallen upon this opportunity and hope to see myself grow as an individual with this company.
How did the MSc in Creative Business & Social Innovation prepare you for this role?
Given that the industry I am in is very innovative but is based in rather complex software and payment technologies, it is my job to bring some light and refreshing touches to the selling process. I tend to employ the out of box thinking that was nurtured at EDHEC with hopes of making finance a more digestible and presentable topic and ensure that we do not fall into the pits of deep analyses and lose prospects through the cloud of technical detail. I am also regularly benefiting from the group work that is highly praised at EDHEC as operational marketing consists of a significant amount of aligning interests and organization of multiple parties regarding a common subject. Overall, I feel that academia is not made to prepare you for a specific role but rather a way of thinking and analysing that will accompany you through life, and that is certainly the case for me at my new job.
Your best memory of EDHEC will remain…
My best memory of EDHEC will be my speech preparations for the TEDx conference as it was an opportunity for me to multitask while also prioritizing certain topics and goals. This was an attempt that I took on alongside my basketball team obligations and was a great way to feel immersed in the ecosystem, while also providing myself with a consistent challenge to be surpassed.
Three words to sum up your EDHEC Master’s experience.
Engagement, prioritization and growth.
A piece of career advice for young graduates?
Some clichés exist for a reason, and I truly believe that doing what you love or what you are passionate about is the key. It is worth noting that leveraging your strengths is also vital but becoming the best at anything requires a certain dedication that only passion will bring out. Even if this skill is not the standard employable skill you may see on job listings, eventually someone will need your expertise and will compensate you greatly for it.