Where are they now? An interview with alumnus Inna Zinina '13

Where can ESSEC's Global MBA take you? Ten months after graduation, alum Inna Zinina '13 checks in and shares her experiences starting her own company.

1) What led you to decide to do an MBA and why did you choose ESSEC's Global MBA?

Before starting my MBA I had more than 8 years of professional experience, mostly in consulting and market research. For the last 3 years I worked in a big corporation and felt that it was not exactly what I wanted to do in my life. I realized that I wanted to try to start my own business and to work for myself. But since life in large corporations is always very busy and tiring, I decided to take a break from corporate life to learn something new.

I wanted to have a globally-oriented MBA program, since my goal was to learn as much as possible about international business. The Global MBA had the right focus. We made three international trips in a one-year program and our class was a mix of 14 different nationalities. What could be more international?

Additionally, I have always loved Paris and I couldn’t miss the opportunity to live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world for a year!

2) Please describe your career path since graduation. What is your current position and responsibilities?

As I had planned, I started work on my own project after graduation. I spent an extra month at ESSEC Venture’s Incubator, where I wrote a business plan. I received lots of valuable professional advice about how to start my company and how to present my business plan to investors. After finishing my business plan at ESSEC, I returned to Russia to implement it.

I started my own company, along with a friend, in the niche perfume sector. We don’t produce perfume, nor do we have any technological innovation, but we do have a marketing innovation. The way we sell perfume is very new to Russia, no one else is operating the same way, though we have some benchmarks in the USA.

My current position if co-founder of the company The Perfumist. My responsibilities are mostly business development, but also a lot of operational management, as we are still very small and have to do everything ourselves

3) Was there anything in particular about the Global MBA that helped prepare you for your current position?

We had several excellent courses in entrepreneurship, business planning, IT management, and statistics that inspired me and gave me some ideas for my future venture. As I mentioned, my project was incubated for a couple of months in the ESSEC Ventures incubator, which gave me the opportunity to get in touch with French entrepreneurs who had launched businesses in similar industries and succeeded. I had a chance to get advice from true industry experts, who gave me very practical information that you don’t learn in the classroom. This was something special and truly valuable for me.

Finally, the field trip we took during the Global MBA to South Africa, as well as the term in Singapore, were very inspiring for me. During these trips we managed to gain insight into how business is being done in countries very different from Europe and Russia. We met top managers from different companies in both countries and had a chance to speak directly to them to ask their opinions and learn from their experience. It gave me a better understanding of the numerous business opportunities out there in the world.

4) What advice would you give to current students, particularly those who are interested in starting their own business?

Starting your own business will be even harder than doing an MBA at ESSEC, but it’s definitely worth doing! Don’t wait till graduation, start working on your project while you are studying. ESSEC has a huge network that can help you connect to the right people and get good advice. If you already have an idea, go join ESSEC Ventures and you will receive a lot of help and support.

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