Olivier Toison (SKEMA 2007), IT Governance Specialist

30 January 2024 Interview

After studying at SKEMA Business School, Olivier Toison, who had always felt drawn to the international arena, quickly launched his career abroad. In this interview, he looks back on his time at SKEMA and on his professional journey in Europe and Asia in the field of IT risk management.


Can you tell us a little about your studies?


I’m originally from the Pays de la Loire region of France, so I completed a three-year undergraduate diploma (French BUT) in Business and Administration Management at the IUT (institute of technology) in Nantes. Having always felt a pull for life abroad, I then decided to continue my studies in Edinburgh, Scotland, where I enrolled in a Bachelor of Business Administration programme.

Then, as I was keen to deepen my knowledge before hitting the job market, I joined SKEMA Business School’s Grande École programme (accounting and auditing track), on the Lille campus.

These academic experiences opened the doors for me to what I do now. Today, I work as an IT project manager specialising in the regulatory compliance of technologies, to help large companies keep up with constantly evolving legislation.

Why did you choose SKEMA Business School?


First and foremost, I chose SKEMA Business School for its academic reputation and its global outlook. I had always wanted to work in different countries. With its campuses around the world and its vast alumni network, SKEMA makes it much easier to build an international career.

One characteristic of the accounting and auditing course was its very fast pace with a dense timetable where classes were scheduled from 7am to 9pm. This prepared me well for the challenges of professional life, and has helped me to cope with the very busy periods at work.

There were also great synergies and close ties between all the students. Everyone helped each other to overcome challenges. This gave me a taste of teamwork and solidarity, which is essential in the working world.


Where does your taste for international life come from?

My mother is Vietnamese, so I've always been attracted to life abroad and to other cultures. That's why, after working for 4 years in financial auditing in Paris after graduating from SKEMA Business School, I decided to move to Asia.

First, I went to Shanghai as part of a VIE (volunteer for international experience) scheme, and worked in business development. I was tasked with conducting market research to analyse the competitive landscape and the potential of the Chinese market for the company. As a result, I got to meet a lot of people and build up a solid network. It was a very enriching experience.


Tell us about the rest of your professional journey so far?


After my VIE contract, the company I was working for decided not to expand into China, so I decided to go freelance, providing support services in IT security (analysis of IT policy, passwords, network security, backups, etc.).

After a few years as a freelancer, I realised that it was difficult to make freelancing work long term.

I then joined Langham Hall, an asset management company in Hong Kong, as an IT project manager. I was responsible for developing applications to automate accounting and financial reporting processes, analysing risks, and acting as a liaison between the IT and finance departments.

After 7 years, I was transferred to Luxembourg, where I still live today. My contract ended a little over a year ago, so I have resumed freelancing while I look for my next salaried position.


As an IT freelancer, what does your average day look like?


As a freelancer, you have to constantly hone your expertise. I spend two hours a day exploring new domains and continually training myself to increase the value of the services I offer. I also take the time to analyse the latest news, the market, new regulations... My assignments are temporary, over 1 to 2 months. There is a lot of demand, as companies are subject to mandatory deadlines and rarely have the time or resources to devote to them internally.


You're very active in SKEMA Business School’s alumni network. Can you tell us why? 


When I was in Shanghai for my VIE contract, I lived close to SKEMA Business School's Suzhou campus. There, I had the opportunity to meet the faculty, take part in mock job interviews with the students, and get involved in the alumni network. It was a great way for me to give something back and to meet people in my new country.

This involvement naturally continued when I moved to Hong Kong and then Luxembourg.

As an ambassador, I help organise events and conferences, I keep the network active, and I help create connections between alumni. I love connecting people from different backgrounds and encouraging synergies!


How have your studies at SKEMA benefited your career?


At SKEMA, I had a lot of classes on human relations (social psychology, emotion management...). This gave me the keys for managing in a multicultural environment, showing empathy and modesty, listening, and resolving conflicts in a reasoned and pragmatic way. Discovering this human dimension, which is crucial in the corporate world, has helped me enormously in my career.


Do you have any career advice for recent SKEMA Business School graduates?


Above all, I advise you to go out and meet people, expand and maintain your network, ask questions and attend as many events, conferences and seminars as possible... This is something that has really helped me in my career. It allows you to get reliable, honest advice based on real-life experience.

In this respect, SKEMA Business School’s alumni network is very useful. When I was a student, getting in touch with former students helped me to narrow down what I wanted to do work-wise and decide on the next steps in my career.


Contact: Olivier Toison, Freelance IT Governance Specialist : DORA regulations, YISSEC: Your Information Systems SECured

Interview by for SKEMA Alumni