Portrait Thierry Perrin ENG

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Thierry Perrin: The EMLYON Forever network helps me in my work as an executive and entrepreneur

This is the story of an executive manager who had shaped the destiny of several companies in the industrial sphere but decided in September 2014 to add another string to his bow by setting up his own company. Thierry Perrin (EMBA 2007) thus acquired a company specialized in temporary buildings. Was this an attempt to make an old dream come true or a sudden desire to take his destiny into his own hands? The answer is in this interview.


Thierry Perrin


How do you feel about the training you got in the Executive MBA program?

  • I did the EMBA while serving as Managing Director of a subsidiary in the eyewear industry. I took the training program part-time, with classes on Friday and Saturday. The EMBA brought me the necessary skills that then allowed me to move on to more strategic positions with an international scope. But I also learned a lot about myself, namely thanks to the meetings and events with the other MBA groups and students in my graduating class. Learning from the professional backgrounds and experience of the other participants is just as important as the content of the training program itself.
  • We have all remained very close and I've become good friends with some of them. We usually contact each other directly, not through the EMLYON Forever Alumni site. However, I often use this platform to find other contacts and information that can help me in my work as an executive and entrepreneur.

During your career, you have held senior management positions in several different sectors at companies of various sizes. What did you get out of these experiences?

  • My international experience in Asia combined with the MBA enabled me to more easily understand how companies in various industries operate. As a result, I changed positions, companies and industries several times without any second thought! These experiences, each of which was interesting in its own unique way, enabled me to bring solutions more quickly by making analogies with solutions I had already encountered. And then there is the network I have built up, which gives my staff the opportunity to discover other contexts and work methods that they didn't necessarily know about. In short, a different perspective.

After years as a senior manager, you chose to become an entrepreneur. Why did you make this career move?

  • Indeed, on 1 September I acquired a company called Structural, specialized in the rental and sale of temporary building structures for events and industry. Another adventure in the industrial sector! In order to prepare myself as well as possible, I chose EMLYON Business School for its very strong entrepreneurial focus. Before having a go at this experience, I had carried out entrepreneurial missions for a long time. You do the same thing, except you do it for a company that doesn't belong to you. Organizing a large group is sometimes more akin to politics than to company management, and its not always easy to find the value added. I wanted to change that by managing the growth of my own “human-scale” company.

What are the challenges for people who want to become an entrepreneur?

  • To borrow the words of someone I met at the Public Investment Bank (BPI) when I was in the process of buying Structural: “If you want to take over a company in France, you have to be brave.” We are living in complicated times, with a mix of uncertainty, immediacy and frequent change. In these conditions, you have to be fast and flexible, while knowing how to stay on course. A company can't change its strategy every day just because it's facing a new problem. Stability is also important to its success.