Club President Interview
Franck Noiret, WG'95, General Partner CDC Entreprises Innovation
Wharton gave me the confidence and courage to do things my way, to accept risk and think outside of the box. It was a very liberating experience.
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Franck Noiret was Wharton Club of Paris President from 2005 to 2010, and has been a member of the Wharton Alumni Executive Board since 2007
On Wharton in France:
Wharton is seen as a leading business school that integrates people from around the world. The Wharton MBA program is considered "elite" in the sense of being prestigious, yet very meritocratic. People perceive that if they have the drive and the skills, there is no reason why they can't go to Wharton. A lot of students from Central and Eastern Europe are also attracted to Wharton. Wharton has always been very strong in territories where there were emerging markets.
We're about 500 people in the Wharton Club of Paris and hold more than 25 events a year. We have a monthly "entrepreneurs' breakfast" from September to June where we invite entrepreneurs to talk about the companies they've built and the lessons they've learned. Once a month, we have a lunch where we invite a Wharton grad to talk about his professional life, and we learn more about different industry sectors. Every two months, we have an executive dinner/debate event, with a senior personality from business or politics, or a leading intellectual. We also have a very strong relationship with INSEAD alumni in Paris and France, in the context of Wharton's alliance with INSEAD, and we open up many events to each other.
On Wharton graduates:
We are very results-oriented people who think for ourselves. These are qualities that really set the school apart. There is no crowd mentality at Wharton, and this makes the school very special. It's a school of great diversity. There's no one way of thinking, or one way of succeeding. Everyone can find his own space and can find success in his own way.
Wharton gave me the confidence and courage to do things my way, to accept risk and think outside of the box. It was a very liberating experience. It made me a much stronger and more complete individual, much more able to assume leadership. For example, I joined the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) after Wharton because I was passionate about the reform of Eastern Europe and the need to create an integrated Europe.
At EBRD, I was involved at a young age with people of considerable power in emerging market countries. It was a very different, and difficult, environment in these countries because of corruption, because of exchange rate volatility, and because infrastructures were not really in place. The fact that I had learned to think for myself and stand up for my opinions helped me in resisting political pressures from different sides, and prevented me from making some very bad mistakes. I wasn't always liked because of the decisions I made, but I was respected because of my independence.
Today, I'm on the board of eight tech companies that operate in fast moving markets, and every day I have to deal with conflicting interests. You need to be quick, to make sound judgments based on limited information. You have to be able to build trust, to rely on people, and to help management teams. In my job you have to say 'no' very often – you have to not be afraid of conflict, but also provide solutions that work in the real world. It is very exciting, but very difficult. And I think I was well prepared for it from my education and experiences at Wharton.
On the alumni network:
I like new ideas and I enjoy meeting new and different people. So for me, I find it very enriching to stay involved with the School and the alumni network. My advice to new alumni is to get involved. The most important thing is to give time and energy to the network by meeting and helping the people around you. Very soon you'll find that the more you give, the more you receive. And it can have a very direct impact on your professional career.
What I appreciate about Wharton is that it's a school of tradition that also promotes innovation, that is very forward-thinking, and where the role of leadership is very important. Those qualities made me choose the school originally and are what I still value today.
Over 15 years of international experience in capital investment and corporate finance. Before Wharton, worked for Arthur Andersen in Paris and Société Générale in London.
After Wharton, served as a Principal Banker at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in London (1995-2000), with a focus on the Technology Media Telecom sector, and advised Central and Eastern European governments and operators on privatization.
Before joining CDC Entreprises Innovation, was a Director at Apax Partners in Paris (2000-04) responsible for IT/Telecom investments, with transactions ranging from early stage to growth leveraged buyouts.
Currently a board member for several IT/Telecom companies.
President, Wharton Club of Paris since 2005. Executive Committee officer and founder of Paris chapter, Wharton Private Equity Partners. Represented Wharton at MBA Forums and Receptions in Europe.
Strategic Management, Multinational Management, Finance