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In this interview, Sheelah Chu, EMDIEL participant (class of 2021) shares her experience of studying the Executive Master in Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship (EMDIEL) programme during the pandemic.
 

THANK YOU FOR TAKING YOUR TIME TO SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A PARTICIPANT OF THE EXECUTIVE MASTER IN DIGITAL INNOVATION AND ENTREPRENEURIAL LEADERSHIP (EMDIEL) PROGRAMME. COULD YOU PLEASE SHORTLY INTRODUCE YOURSELF?

I’m Sheelah, currently working as country digital content specialist at IKEA France, with experiences in sales, marketing, sustainability, customer service, project and team management in the retail industry. I have degrees in Bachelor of Science in Marketing Management, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and an ESCP Master’s in International Business & Project Management. Born and raised in Manila, I have settled in the Parisian suburbs for the last 2 decades, with my husband and four boys.
 

HOW DID YOU EXPERIENCE STUDYING FOR EMDIEL DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC?

Surprisingly, it was, and still is, a rich and enjoyable experience. The EMDIEL kick-off was a mix of excitement and uncertainty as Covid-19 caught everyone by surprise. I even thought that the programme would be postponed. In the end, the academic team managed to pull it off.

Surely, the experience was unique. Our adaptability, our willingness and eagerness to learn and our commitment to the programme were key to the success of each module. Of course, this wouldn’t be possible if the academic team did not move heaven and earth to make things happen. 

I personally felt privileged to be able to experience a hybrid set-up. I felt my creativity further stimulated. We invented and engaged into new ways of working together, whether in the same room or online, while consistently producing results that would meet the demands of the different modules. 
 

WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES THAT YOU MANAGED TO OVERCOME AS A PARTICIPANT OF THE PROGRAMME?

The biggest challenges for me were the uncertainty and the online sessions. On top of the programme of each module requiring to be constantly modified, adapted to the circumstances we were in, like different lockdown levels in different countries, travel restrictions etc., we had to adapt to the changing dates and location. It was tough for us as it was for the academic team. We all had to disrupt our professional and personal schedules. 

The online sessions were dreaded by everyone in the cohort. Nothing compares to being in the same room together. There was such good camaraderie among us that we truly enjoyed every moment of sessions when we were physically present in the same room. 

That being said, allow me to give credit to our professors with their amazing zoom meeting hosting talent. When you spend the whole day in front of the computer, the only way you’d be coming back the following day is when your professor managed to keep you awake all throughout the session. Of course, the different digital collaboration and learning tools also helped a lot. 
 

WHAT DID YOU LEARN AND EXPERIENCE WHICH YOU WOULD NOT HAVE WITHOUT THE PANDEMIC?

Compromise, resilience, dedication, and goodwill. Yes, we all accepted to compromise and each time we did, the trade-off was worth it. Our resilience was key to enabling us to bounce back to our feet despite the difficulties that we encountered due to Covid-19. Had we not been dedicated to contributing to a positive learning experience not only for ourselves but for our classmates and our professors, the group would have not stayed solid across the different modules. 

The goodwill displayed by students and the academic team fostered a relationship of mutual trust, caring and understanding. Together, we were better able to breeze through the impediments of Covid-19. 
 

WHAT HELPED YOU IN YOUR DAILY ROUTINE AS AN EMDIEL PARTICIPANT DURING THE PANDEMIC?

Being pragmatic and optimistic. Facing each day with both feet on the ground but never giving up hope that things could get better and bearing in mind that we are still luckier than most. 

And also, accepting to mutually rely on each other. Sometimes, it gets tough to meet deadlines as we constantly juggle between work, school, and family life. In the cohort, we look after each other. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and be generous enough to give it.
 

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO WOULD LIKE TO START EMDIEL DURING THE PANDEMIC BUT ARE STILL HESITANT TO DO SO?

Of course, I’d say GO FOR IT! But … yes there’s a BUT! Go for it only if you are willing to twist and turn, learn and work differently, manage expectations and disappointments and to commit to the programme. In exchange, you will not only expand your knowledge and skills, but also your professional network and bring with you an extraordinarily rich human experience.  

I am lucky to have been stretched beyond my limits, to have been disappointed a couple of times when plans change, to have gone through adversities, because they made the learning experience richer and more meaningful. I met wonderful people from different countries, of different age groups and from different fields. I’ll let you imagine how fun and memorable that was!
 

If you wish to learn more about the Executive Master in Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurial Leadership (EMDIEL) at ESCP Business School, please contact Olga Perfilyeva.

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