Wilfried Fosse (SKEMA 2015): “In the United States, taking risks brings opportunities”

09 May 2022 Interview

After his studies at SKEMA Business School, which opened the doors to the international job market for him, Wilfried started his career in New York, a city that has always fascinated him. He tells us about his time at the business school, his experiences abroad, and talks about his career progression in the digital sector in the United States.


Why did you choose to study at SKEMA Business School?


After completing a business school preparatory course in Paris, I wanted to attend a business school with an international dimension.


I really liked SKEMA Business School’s international outlook, the campuses overseas, and the diversity of study programmes on offer. I was interested in the Master’s in International Marketing and Business Development, which is very highly rated. 


The existence of the SKEMA Business School alumni network, which now has over 50,000 members around the world with very rich backgrounds, was also a factor in my decision.


After a year on the Sophia Antipolis campus, as part of my Master 1 I attended SKEMA Business School’s campus in Suzhou, China, for a semester. The following semester, I went to Munich Business School, a partner university in Germany, as part of an exchange programme. I really enjoyed these international experiences; they were extremely enriching.


I then took a gap year before joining the Master 2 programme on the Paris campus.

How did your international career begin?


I’ve always been drawn overseas and very quickly I wanted to build a career abroad, to expose myself to other cultures, learn different ways of managing, different approaches to business, etc. After these study experiences abroad, I decided, during my gap year, to get some professional experience overseas.


Having always dreamed of working in New York, I applied for different internships at French companies operating over there.


I got the opportunity to intern for six months at Dormeuil, in New York.

After my studies at SKEMA Business School, my manager at Dormeuil, with whom I’d kept in touch, offered me an account manager position in the company’s US subsidiary.


So I moved to New York again and lived there for nearly seven years.


I was responsible for managing a portfolio of American retailers along the entire east coast, where we sold the products, and I was doing a bit of business development.


During my three years with the company, I realised, while working with these retailers, that many of them faced challenges with digital marketing and e-commerce, two fields I was very interested in. 


At the time I was in contact with Datasolution, a French company based in Paris and Sydney, specialised in the building of e-commerce sites. The company was looking to expand to the United States. They were interested in my experience and offered me their very first position Stateside: it was my job to open the US subsidiary. 


It was a fantastic challenge, with an entrepreneurial aspect that I really enjoyed. 


Given that I was the very first employee there, one of the major challenges was to build up a client portfolio from scratch, with production teams based in France. There were a number of challenges, but in the end the experience was a big success. By the end of the first year, we had signed on a dozen clients and generated a very satisfactory turnover.


What are you up to these days?


After two years at Datasolution in New York, I returned to France because my visa was running out. 


At that time, I got the opportunity to meet the team at Sketchfab, the company I work for now. I’d been following them for a while and was very interested in joining them.


I joined the company as a Business Development Manager, in Paris first, but with the goal of heading back to New York where there was already a team of around twenty people.


Sketchfab is the leader in 3D and AR visualisation solutions. It’s a bit like the YouTube of 3D!


We sell a viewer for 3D models that we embed in e-commerce sites. For example, instead of having a product page with a video and some photos, you can add a 3D model of the product, which offers a much more immersive and interactive experience.


It’s a solution that works really well, to the point where Sketchfab was bought up by Epic Games, the American gaming giant with around 5,000 employees across five continents.


These days, more and more companies are turning to 3D. It’s a solution that’s really taking off and there are huge opportunities and prospects in this sector. So I’m really happy to be a part of Sketchfab.


What’s the management culture like in the United States?


In the States, the management culture is quite different to what we know in France.


I find the American mindset more positive overall. The culture of failure is not the same as it is in France, either. 


In the US, there is a strong entrepreneurial spirit. People don’t hesitate to try new things, to take risks, to make bold moves, even if they fail. Failure is really seen as a way to grow, to learn from the mistakes made. That’s something I learned in the United States and it’s brought me a lot. 


Generally speaking, I really like the American style of management. The way of doing business in the United States is very different. You address people more informally, you have nicknames for colleagues... all of this makes it easier to connect with people and to feel at ease very quickly.


Plus in New York there is an energy that you don’t feel anywhere else. It’s really amazing to be able to live and work in an environment that is so dynamic, enriching and trailblazing.

Tell us about your involvement with SKEMA Business School.


The SKEMA Business School alumni network was a great help to me when I first arrived in New York. I got to attend events, talk to other alumni, ask for advice... It was great to have this local support system and it helped me to make my first friends in the Big Apple.


Later, I wanted other alumni to be able to benefit from my experience too, so I became an ambassador of the SKEMA Alumni association in New York. We organise lots of events (debates, talks, etc.) that give us the opportunity to interact with other SKEMA graduates.


I also donated to the SKEMA United fundraising campaign, to support students impacted by COVID-19.


What advice would you give young SKEMA Business School graduates wanting to build an international career?


At SKEMA Business School, we are fortunate to be in a very dynamic school with an international outlook. I would first advise students to make the most of the school’s different campuses overseas, to experience life in China, Brazil, South Africa... It’s truly an incredible opportunity and an amazing chance to take your first steps abroad. 


Also, SKEMA Business School provides the opportunity to take a gap year, between Master 1 and Master 2, to gain more work experience. I really recommend using that year to get professional experience by interning abroad. 


Finally, the SKEMA Alumni network is an excellent way to benefit from the experience of expats. The alumni are very approachable and always happy to give advice and share their experience. This network is one of the school’s major strengths and you mustn’t hesitate to use it.


Contact  Wilfried Fosse, Business Development & Partnerships, Sketchfab @Epic Games

Interview by for SKEMA Alumni