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Carlos BOU NAFEH (MM08), Product manager, CIRCL8 (Liban)

30 juin 14

My name is Carlos Bou Nafeh, I am Lebanese, and now I am more than proud to say that I’ve been a student at Paris Dauphine for the Marketing Masters. It all comes from the knowledge and experience that I’ve accumulated in that masters’ year.

 

Language

I’ve had engineering studies in Lebanon in an American system university, so English was the main language. I’ve learned French at school as a main foreign language, and from what I’ve seen in the masters, being comfortable in French is very important, especially that most of the courses are in French, and are given by French teachers.

 

Marketing expertise

Having had engineering studies didn’t majorly affect my path in marketing, but I did get to feel that getting to know the basics in marketing before starting courses is very helpful in understanding the whole concept at first, and all technical terms afterwards, which teachers take for granted as understood. But teachers are always helpful when asked about a concept or a vocabulary term.

 

My application

I’ve worked in the engineering field for more than two years before applying to that masters program. I wanted to expand, do more and change my work environment from the technical aspect to the more human interactive one.

So I had my research and applied to Paris Dauphine. And Dauphine has its reputation in general and in marketing in particular ; I got to notice that while talking to few friends from here and there, and they were all thrilled as much as I was to hear that I’m going there.

Add to that, that in 2008, its Marketing Masters was ranked 5th among all of France’s marketing masters.

 

Arrival

Coming to France was a bit of a rush for me, since I got the OK from Dauphine by the end of June, and as I was still working in Lebanon, organizing everything wasn’t that straightforward.

The most important issues I had to work on were the visa, the student residency card and the apartment.

  • The visa : being non European forces me to apply for a student visa, and in Lebanon, it’s a lengthy procedure that requires a lot of legal papers. A legal invitation sent from France is mandatory. Having friends in Paris was so helpful for me to get that procedure done.
  • The student residency card or the “carte de séjour” : once the visa is accepted, it is given to foreigners for a period of 2 to 3 months, during which students have to apply for a residency card when they get to France. Applying for that card is not necessarily an easy step. You have to have an apartment or somewhere to stay in (it could be a nice friend !), a bank account or a sponsor (it could be that same nice friend if he/she has a good monthly income !)...
  • The apartment or the studio : and that is the most important thing to prepare before starting courses ! Looking for a studio in Paris could be a real hassle. I waited till I got to Paris to start looking, and while looking, I was staying at a friends’ place. I got to Paris just as the courses started, and looking for an apartment while courses were underway was really a mess. A MAJOR advice : come to Paris a month ahead of time so you’d get to have the apartment and all your legal papers done in time.
  • The bank account : in order to be able to open the bank account, you have to have an address.

.. So it’s a big vicious loop, what to do first ? For the residency card you need an address. For the apartment, you need money. For the money you need a bank account. For the bank account you need an address. For the address you need... luck !

Being caught up in those procedures was a shock for me at first, because I wasn’t used to them. But naturally the goal of my stay in France was worth the effort.

 

The program

Regarding the master’s, it has a practical program, meaning that you learn how people actually work in companies. We got to learn how to use statistical softwares and practically work with statistics and numbers. There are a lot of courses, interesting ones, and less interesting ones, depending on one’s taste in marketing ; and one might like them all !

Most teachers were excellent, and most lecturers and professionals were very interesting to listen to and it was very enriching to learn from their life and work experience.

The program is mainly divided into two big parts, marketing studies and product management. One is based on studies, numbers, panels, how to construct and conduct surveys, analyze the results... The other is more strategic, decision making... They’re not fully separated from one another, it’s a good blend. At the end of the classes’ period, we have to perform a six months training, before getting the degree.

Most courses are in French, and an amount of case studies are French cases. Sometimes it’s more convenient to know about the French system in order to understand the class.

Nonetheless, in practically most of the classes there were numerous international cases that were hugely interesting, and again, all depends on one’s taste in marketing.

 

Mission

The major part of the master’s program is an assignment where we got to do a sort of an unpaid training in a company, fully pedagogic, where we had to do a market study on a product or a service.

Personally I worked with Renault and did an online survey for a market study on a particular car product.

Our position as students in the company is one of a consultant working on a single project, and it’s a very interesting status, a very interesting work experience, as we get to work on our own time while collaborating with the company’s staff.

Getting to do the project from A to Z was extremely informative in understanding all the steps in doing a professional project, dealing with actual professionals in a company who expect to have an exploitable result ; in a way, they’re investing their time, and sometime the company’s money, in order to have a satisfying result. It is a responsibility.

We had to look for the company to work with, we had to look for contacts, whether from the alumni, or from people around us, or from offers over the internet...

 

Training

Same goes for the six months training ; we had to look for it. But there are plenty of trainings in Paris. Mine was with Valeo Interior Controls, which is a car equipment manufacturer.

Doing that training and looking back at it, and most importantly writing the training report gave me an insight on how things are done on a big scale.

 

Paris

There is a lot to learn and a lot of experience in Paris ; it is a big metropolis where things are done on a high and large level. I had never realized what this meant until I got to experience it.

In the same sense I got to enjoy Paris with all the facilities that it may offer... it’s a huge city with great possibilities and opportunities. Surely it has its downfalls and difficult moments, but having thought about writing this piece of text, sharing a small bit of my experience, gave me a warm feeling and made me smile, as looking back at that past year makes me realize how much I’ve learnt, how much I’ve changed and how much I’m powerful for the future.

I would advice every student looking for a change, for adventure and for more knowledge to go for that kind of experience. I would definitely recommend Paris Dauphine where I got to receive worthwhile education which cannot necessarily be found just anywhere.