Christophe Al-Taie (SK 2004): “I was blown away by Asia”

28 November 2019

Having gone to Thailand to complete a double degree at the AIT School of Management, Christophe Al-Taie has not left Asia since. An ambassador and founding member of the SKEMA Alumni Singapore club, he talks to us about his stimulating career in marketing and stresses the importance of building a strong network to get ahead professionally.

Christophe, you are an ambassador and founding member of the SKEMA Alumni Singapore club. Do you feel like you’ve strengthened the SKEMA community?

Before arriving in Singapore in 2006, I was in Bangkok as an exchange student to complete my double degree. When I began my career there, a few of us alumni from CERAM Sophia Antipolis (one of the founding schools of the SKEMA group) started to get together for some friendly after-work drinks. In Singapore, I wanted to attend more of these types of social events, so I started to organise informal meetups based the same model and I invited Singaporeans who had been exchange students at CERAM. Then, once SKEMA Business School was created, the school really helped to structure and formalise a club, which I set up with a small group of motivated alumni. The school also allocated an annual budget for organising more regular events to bring people together. The result: three or four themed events per year where our community can get together and our members can grow or strengthen their network. On top of these, we also organise some informal meetups. Our SKEMA community is definitely stronger, although we have lost some of our diversity: we’re getting feedback asking us to open up (once again) to other nationalities.

You’ve worked in a few different areas: real estate, media, NGO... What are you doing now?

I had a conventional education. I went to business school and majored in services marketing at CERAM Sophia Antipolis and the AIT School of Management. I wanted to seize the opportunity to complete a double major abroad and the school offered exchange programmes with Asia, which I really didn’t know much about. I jumped at the chance and was blown away, not just by Thailand but by Asia in general. Since then, I’ve built my life and career in this dynamic part of the world. First, I worked for the UN at their Asia headquarters in Bangkok, where I was in charge of the communication strategy for a major project involving the development of a regional research and training network focused on trade facilitation. Following that great experience, I jumped at a great opportunity in the private sector, managing the development of the sponsorship and partnership programmes of QNet, a direct selling company based in Singapore. I landed in this field somewhat by chance: the company was expanding and I offered to manage what is the key sector for a company keen to make a name for itself.

After nearly six years and some really interesting projects in Formula 1, the Asian Champions League, and multiple sponsorships of high-level athletes, I decided to have a go at entrepreneurship by starting a video production company. A childhood friend had set up his own production company and we decided to launch an Asian subsidiary. The adventure lasted two years. Things went well in the first year, but by the end of the second it was becoming difficult to withstand the competition. I went back to being an employee in 2014, by joining the company I’m with now, JLL. I was put in charge of the marketing strategy of the Asia Pacific division’s Facilities Management service line. After a few years I realised that there was a significant missed opportunity in the way the marketing operations were structured for managing events and sponsorships in each division. I carried out an internal audit on the side my ‘official’ duties and I demonstrated that it was possible to make significant economies of scale and optimise our resources by centralising these activities. Since March 2018, my company has tasked me with developing the JLL Asia Pacific centre of excellence in Events, Sponsorships & Partnerships. It’s a new adventure for me, as an intrapreneur!

In what ways has SKEMA Business School been an asset to your career?

In what ways has SKEMA Business School been an asset to your career? Since living in Asia, I’ve found my positions thanks to former classmates from the school. I can say without hesitation that SKEMA has been a real asset thanks to its strong international policy, whether in terms of exchange programmes or workforce integration. The network is powerful and a great way to make contacts quickly. I can think of another three or four people who also found their positions thanks to the alumni network. And lots of friends, too. Well done, Skemans! I invite all of our alumni to continue to play an active role in our wonderful, growing family!

Thank you to Christophe for talking to us and for developing the Singapore club which, in November 2019, has around 500 members. Since the interview, Christophe and Marianne, our Singapore ambassadors, have welcomed two new ambassadors to help run the club: Sophie Bailly (SK 2015) and Gildas Coldeboeuf (SK 1993).