Jonathan Marlay (SKEMA 2009), expert consultant/trainer: “A passion? Human relations”

12 December 2021 Interview

In this interview, Jonathan Marlay, a graduate of the SKEMA Grande École programme Class of 2009, speaks to us about his career in training and coaching.

Could you introduce yourself and tell us a few words about your professional journey so far?

I’m 36 years old and I have a daily passion: human relations. I left SKEMA Sophia Antipolis in 2009 with a master’s degree in web marketing and project management. I’m someone who follows my instinct, without any real goal, and I followed what I think is a calling: the principle of synchronicity.

What have been the high points in your professional journey so far?

My professional journey began nearly 12 years ago, just after graduating. Armed with great knowledge and skills, I was returning from the opening of the Suzhou Campus with a lot of ambitions and dreams, but unfortunately France was in the midst of a financial crisis.

A lot of my SKEMA friends had taken a gap year, whereas I was looking to find a job quickly without any real opportunities. After several interviews in the mass retail sector, I quickly accepted a first job in operations management at Auchan. I stayed there for two years; two years that were very rich in sharing, participative management, training and personal development.

But rapidly it stopped being challenging and the monotonous aspect of the work didn’t appeal to me anymore. I was headhunted by Carrefour to be the assistant manager of a store. It was a different, more directive, management style, that didn’t suit me and wasn’t aligned with my values. I no longer really found any meaning in it and it went against what I thought was the right thing to do. So I looked for an alternative and I was approached by the organic sector, in which I was really able to grow/train a team, set up a store and manage it as I pleased. I learned a lot from my employees and was able to test my management style. The store became a benchmark in customer excellence, because my employees were proactive and well trained. I got to do that for five years before becoming seriously ill.

I spent six months in hospital in the internal medicine ward, and it took me six months to be able to walk again. A virus, apparently... During that time I thought a lot about what I would like to do, and I realised that what motivated me every morning was helping my employees to grow. Since it never rains it pours, I lost my job and on the personal front a lot of things changed too. 

I found myself disabled at 32 and without any real choice. It was still difficult for me to walk at the time, and I couldn’t go back to what I was doing before. 

During a career guidance interview, I met a man named Amour (love in French) – you couldn’t make this up! He asked me to think about what I would like to do for a career; I’d had the time to think about it during that year spent lying in bed. I told him that I would like to get into training. He advised me to call some training centres to get on a course to become a professional trainer for adults.

I very quickly enrolled in an eight-month certificate course. On that course, I got to meet an exceptional person who taught me to understand people, drove me to take more courses, and introduced me to coaching. At the end of the training, I obtained an FPA trainer certification and a coaching credential from Cercle National de Coaching. I started as a self-employed trainer for two years filled with challenges and with meeting different people. But I don’t know why, I knew that was going to end in late January 2020. I was contacted by B-flower in November 2019 to join the adventure as a Consultant/Trainer and progress to an Expert Consultant position six months later. 




Today, you work for B-flower as an Expert Consultant/Trainer. What does this role involve? 

  • I manage projects all over France and around the world on business-related issues.
  • I create business training courses for companies which are bespoke and address the challenges of their sectors.
  • I deliver training and participate in the training pilots.
  • I do research into new content to guarantee that the courses continue to meet the changing needs of our sector.
  • I help to design offerings for our sales teams. 

Small commitments can prepare you for big ones... What does this inspire in you?

I’ve always been actively involved within SKEMA, both in associations and on the Sophia campus, notably at The Foyer, EPO 2007-2008, BDA. Today I’d like to participate and give back what that has given me, share the personal and professional mistakes made in my younger days. 

If you had a superpower?

The ability to motivate people effortlessly!


Contact: Jonathan Marlay, Expert Consultant Sales/Trainer at b-flower