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Interview

Anna Florent (SKEMA 2019), living and working in Ireland: a gateway to another adventure!

28 September 2021

A graduate of the PGE - MSc International Human Resources and performance management double degree in 2019, Anna talks to us about her time at SKEMA Business School and her experience of living and working in Dublin. 


Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m originally from the outskirts of Paris and I joined SKEMA Business School after my Master’s degree in business law, to diversify my skills and pursue studies in human resources. Thanks to the multi-campus aspect of the school I got to study in Nice and Paris, but I also got to spend a semester in Brazil during my first year. For the last year and a half I have been living and working in Dublin, Ireland, thanks to the VIE programme (Volunteer for International Experience).


What reasons prompted your move to Dublin?

After spending a semester in Brazil, I realised just how rich and important international experiences are. On both a personal and a professional level, I think we are really fortunate to be able to go and live overseas so easily and it is important to seize the opportunity. What’s more, the VIE programme makes expatriation more accessible and provides so much support that it would be a shame not to take advantage of it. Having an international profile, discovering other cultures and other ways of working allows you to develop an adaptability that I consider necessary these days.


What do you think of expatriation?

It’s an experience that I strongly recommend, whether straight after graduating or a few years after starting a career. I think it’s important to be curious, to step out of your comfort zone and to jump at this kind of opportunity. To me, the total immersion we get to experience as expats makes us a lot more open-minded and is a significant launching pad for a career. I have to say that my international experiences have been my greatest by far.


What were your reasons for choosing to pursue a career in HR? What is it about this field that appeals to you?

I think the human aspect and the people contact are the main elements I was looking for when I chose to work in Human Resources. As it involves supporting employees with various issues on a daily basis, this field almost has a consulting dimension. It also has a real strategic importance, deals with numerous issues/challenges and offers huge variety. No two days are alike in my current position.


What are qualities are needed to succeed HR?

Each HR specialisation requires very specific qualities. Today, I’m fortunate to be in a generalist position and to be able to deal with all the HR-related issues companies face. I think you need to have highly developed interpersonal skills, you need to know how to be confident in your role, and you have to be comfortable with the managerial aspect. Of course, all this needs to be combined with good organisation skills, attention to detail, and a high degree of adaptability.


In what ways did SKEMA help you develop and achieve your goals?

The PGE – MSc International Human Resources and performance management double degree was an extremely comprehensive programme that taught me technical skills for working in HR, but also highly varied skills thanks to the core curriculum of the PGE. I would not have been able to retrain like this without this school. I also remain convinced that SKEMA opened up a lot of doors for me and it allowed me to join a major group in the banking industry, BNP Paribas, for my final year internship. That experience then allowed me to go to Dublin on a VIE contract, as Human Resources Generalist for Société Générale. I also got the opportunity to write a thesis on management styles of which the main takeaways were published in the magazine Focus RH. What an accomplishment for a student!


What advice would you like to give our students or alumni wanting a career in HR?

I think they shouldn’t be afraid to get it wrong. It’s an extremely enriching field and a wonderful profession. Every student or alum will find a specialisation that is a good fit for them, whether it’s more focused on numbers, management or strategy; the variety of positions and opportunities they will find in the HR field will tick their boxes. The skills and knowledge acquired in this field will always be useful and will stand them in good stead throughout their professional career.


What are your plans for the future?

I really enjoyed my experiences in HR, but my career is now taking a different turn: I am embarking on an entrepreneurial adventure. Having always felt drawn to entrepreneurship, I knew I would end up starting my own business one day. I’ve had a passion for horses since childhood, so I decided to start a 100% online high-end saddlery, Ateela Sellerie, to offer riders great equipment that helps their performance. The COVID crisis was a good time to develop this project which is due to launch in the coming weeks.


To wrap up this interview, how would you describe SKEMA in three words?

Intense, enriching, opportunities.

 

Contact: Anna FlorentHuman Resources Generalist at Société Générale

 

 

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