PPL Advice to INSEAD Students
Last week, I had the opportunity to go to Fontainebleau, France, to speak to some INSEAD MBA students about my experience so far at Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics. This was quite a special occasion for me because I graduated from INSEAD just 16 months ago, and this was my first return to the campus and to a very special place in my heart. The event was an alumni panel for the Industry club, and I was accompanied by two alumni from prior classes that work at Siemens and Solvay. It was a bit weird to sit on the other side of the podium, but I really enjoyed speaking to the students about my experiences at INSEAD and how they prepared me to work at a global and innovative company like Saint-Gobain.
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Alumni presenting at INSEAD
I spent a few days reflecting on the message I wanted to convey to the MBAs, and in doing so, it made me realize how happy I am with my decision to join this organization. When I was doing my job search just 18 months ago, I wanted something fast-paced, innovative, and technology oriented, so I immediately focused on companies like Google, Apple, and Amazon, to name a few. When I saw this opportunity at Saint-Gobain, I found the job description to be quite interesting, but in researching the company, it didn’t excite me. I still decided to pursue the opportunity, and from the first interview with HR through my Skype interview with Tom (PPL President) and Cindy(PPL Director of HR), followed by a full day of interviews in Paris, I was intrigued and excited with what I was learning about the business. I realized that the “Industry sector” that PPL was lumped under was not just about being a giant, slow-moving, manufacturing machine. Everyone I talked to spoke about entrepreneurial spirit, innovation, technology, and empowerment of employees.
So that was my message to the MBAs last week – not to judge a book by its cover and to stay open-minded during the job hunt. I truly believe that PPL is just as, if not more so, innovative and technology focused as any of the “tech” companies that we traditionally think of. Not to mention that we have the heritage to prove it. In Saint-Gobain’s 350 years of history, we’ve made it through a lot of ups and downs – economic downturns, technological breakthroughs, changing customer needs, globalization – you name it. There’s something really special about that and it involves maintaining strong values while allowing the ability to change, invent and reinvent, and hard work from a lot of really smart people. I’m proud of this company and excited to be a part of keeping it around for another 350 years.
Image credit: INSEAD
Lina Nguyen, Director of Strategy and Planning, Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics