How INSEAD MBA Helped Matthieu to Make a Career Transition from Hospitality to Sustainable Jewellery

There has always been a debate around whether an MBA is worth, MBA vs MS (or MiM), the effectiveness of an MBA when it comes to a career change or career boost, etc. Additionally, getting into top MBA programs is also a task itself. In the past, we have interviewed alumni from top MBA programs (Harvard, Yale, ISB, Tippie), who shared their perspectives on MBA admissions abroad – school selection, profile building, GMAT preparation, rankings, MBA essays, interview prep, and post-MBA careers.

INSEAD MBA AlumnusAll our previously featured B-school alumni are also into MBA admissions consulting. So, in this article, to add a little more diversity and transparency, we have a tête-à-tête with Matthieu Chauveau. Matthieu (aka Matt) is an INSEAD alumnus and currently running his own startup (Scéona). In this post, Matt talks about MBA admissions, MBA vs MiM, and post-MBA career transition.

In his own words, Last year, when I applied to the INSEAD MBA, I was at a crossroad of my life, hesitating about the direction to take for my career and future… I wanted to discover new things, meet new people and challenge myself.

While studying at INSEAD, Matt started his own venture in Singapore in the space of sustainable jewellery. Let’s find out more about Matthieu’s pre-MBA experience and post-MBA career journey.

MBA Admissions, MBA vs MiM, and Post-MBA Career Change

Q&A with Matthieu Chauveau, INSEAD MBA Alumnus and Founder, Scéona

1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself. 

I’m French, studied in France, England and Argentina. I started my career in Paris before moving to Australia then Indonesia (Jakarta and Bali) and finally Singapore. I’m passionate about surfing, travelling to new countries and music.

My mojo: don’t wait till you are 70 to live your dreams!

2. You worked with Accor Hotels (Bali & Singapore). Could you please share your experience of working in the Tourism & Hospitality Management? 

I started my career in Corporate Internal Audit in Paris. I travelled worldwide for three years to audit hotels and Regional Offices. At some point, I wanted to discover the Operations side so I quit my comfortable job in Paris to work for a few months as a night receptionist in Australia before the COO of AccorHotels Indonesia offered me to join AccorHotels teams in Jakarta.

After twenty months of being in charge of operational projects and business reviews, I joined a 5-star boutique hotel in Bali as Operation Manager for 10 months before moving to Singapore to open and manage two hotels as Executive Assistant Manager.

3. What are the pros and cons of working in the Hospitality industry? 

Pros: The human experience is great. To work in hospitality you need to love working and interacting with people from all over the world. Every day is different as many things can happen in a hotel, it’s a challenging environment. Moreover, you can work wherever you want in the world. Once you have a bit of experience, you can work in any kind of hotel.

Cons: usually long hours. A hotel is opened 24/7 so when you reach a manager position you can be asked to work during the weekend, stay late at night to welcome VIP clients, sometimes no holiday during important days (CNY, Christmas, NYE…).

Related Article: 30 Best Tourism & Hospitality Management Schools in the World

4. You had a Master’s Degree in Management from Audencia Business School. What prompted you to think about an MBA? 

I always loved to learn and challenge myself intellectually. I worked seven years after finishing my Master in Management (MiM). I felt it was time to take a break from my career and go back to school to discover something new, meet new people and boost my resume.

5. You were at the crossroads of your life a year ago. How did you come to the conclusion that an MBA would be the ideal next step at that stage of your career? 

An MBA from a top business school is an investment in the future. Although the cost is high, if you think long term (over a 35+ years career), the return on investment is clearly positive. I could have continued in my company but I thought an MBA will open many doors. What’s one year in a career? You create a network and make friends for life. You are constantly challenged, intellectually and personally, I love it.

Related Articles:

Do you really need an MBA to boost your career?

When an MBA Abroad is Not Worth and Best MBA Alternatives

6. Could you please tell us the major differences between a Masters in Management (MiM) and MBA program – curriculum, co-curricular, job prospects, etc.? 

You don’t have any professional experience when you are pursuing a MiM. The curriculum is thus created to prepare you for your first job, you learn pretty basic stuff and you spend 2-3 years at school before graduation. Companies do not expect you to have any experience or any previous knowledge in business, so you start at an entry-level.

The average professional experience of an MBA student is 5 years. It makes a huge difference in the learning experience. As a student, you can leverage the experience of your peers to challenge your beliefs and learn new business approaches. The learning is based on a case study and discussion in class. Students are usually more mature and knowledgeable. Job opportunities post MBA are more at a middle Management level with higher salaries than the MiM. In brief, MBAs will manage the MiM.

Related Article: MBA vs MiM – Which is Better for You?

7. How was your experience with the MBA applications – GMAT preparation, B-School shortlisting, MBA essays, and interviews? 

The GMAT preparation was painful. I did not study maths for a long time so it took me a lot of effort to prepare for the exam. Especially when you have a full-time job at the same time!

I spent a lot of time on my essays. I knew I won’t have the top GMAT scores so I really focused on the essays to make a difference. I think it is good to have a plan of which story you want to tell and how you want the jury to picture you. Asking family and friends to review my essays was a good strategy as they know me very well and could provide me with sincere feedback.

The interviews went well as the interviewer was nice and easy-going.

I only applied to INSEAD so I can’t really compare with other Top B-School.

8. Did you work with any Mentor(s) or MBA Admissions Consultant? If yes, how was your experience?

I had a friend who studied at INSEAD before so she gave me some advice about how I should write my essays. I did not work with consultants but I used the forum to get information about the admission process and read about the experience of previous students.

9. Why did you choose INSEAD?

I only looked at the Top 10 B-School in the world as I wanted the best or nothing. I chose INSEAD because of the international dimension of the school. There are more than 90 nationalities in my class, which create a unique cultural and international experience. I also liked the opportunity to study in different campus (France, Singapore, the US). The other main reason is the duration of the program: 1 year. I did not want to spend 2 years in a US B-school. I felt 1 year would be more time/money efficient.

Related Article: INSEAD vs HEC Paris – Fees, Rankings, Placements, Average Salaries

10. How was your overall experience at INSEAD and what the key things that you really liked about the MBA program at INSEAD?

The overall experience is very positive. I met people from many different countries, made lots of friends, travelled to 10+ countries, learnt about subjects that I never heard about before and launched my startup, thanks to the feedback, advice, and help from my peers. The best part of the MBA program is to make friends from all over the world, and learn from such diverse backgrounds, cultures, experiences… INSEAD is really the Business School of the World!

11. Apart from MBA and Masters, you had opted for several online courses and certifications. Why did you choose to go for those short courses? To what extent did you find them useful?

My company sponsored online certificates from Cornell University so I took the chance to improve my resume “for free”. It was part of the continuous learning strategy of AccorHotels for Managers so I could dedicate some time during the week to work on the certificate. The courses were interesting but the impact / added value on a resume is very limited (nothing compared to an MBA).

Related Articles:

Are Online Courses and MOOCs worth it?

Online MBA: Pros & Cons

12. Please tell us more about Scéona and sustainable fine jewellery. What is it all about?

Sustainable JewelleryWe created Scéona to offer an alternative to traditional jewellery: more respectful of the environment and the people.

By using only 18 karat recycled gold and cultured diamonds as well as offsetting our carbon impact, we avoid direct mining and reduce as much as possible the overall environmental impact of our operations.

The main idea is for women to look good while feeling and doing good wearing Scéona Jewellery.

13. How did the particular business (startup) idea come to your mind? Why did you choose the jewellery segment for your startup?

I always wanted to be an entrepreneur but I did not have a good idea. One of my best friends is a jeweller and she told me about the impact mining has on the environment and the people in certain countries and how new innovative ways of crafting jewellery could help reduce this impact.

I always thought business can and should be used as a force for good so I was instantly hooked by this idea of disrupting an old industry and bring more innovative and sustainable solutions to the industry. I decided to not recruit during the MBA and put all my efforts on the venture.

14. Could you please share any advice for the aspiring MBA applicants and Entrepreneurs?

For MBA applicants as well as for Entrepreneurs, storytelling is the most important. You need to be able to sell your story if people want to buy you (MBA) or your product/service (entrepreneur). Nothing is more powerful than a great story. So spend time on your essays (it can save your MBA application) or pitch (it will help you to find new clients/sources of funding).

Don’t procrastinate and adopt a lean mindset. Start with something, test, review, improve, and test again…

15. What are your suggestions for the Asian and International Applicants for getting admitted to the Top B-Schools in the World?

A good GMAT score and a great story. International experience is definitely a plus. Find a way to highlight your uniqueness and explain why the school would make a big mistake not choosing you. Ask family and friends for support and help (essays’ review, interview preparation…). Adopt a lean mindset (see above).

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