Meet Georgia Tech’s MBA Class Of 2020

Mélanie Coissard

Georgia Institute of Technology’s Scheller College of Business

“Life-long learner in pursuit of happiness with one leg in Europe and the other in the U.S.”

Hometown: Clermont-Ferrand, France

Fun Fact About Yourself: I was cheerleading captain at my undergraduate institution, but I didn’t know how to cartwheel.

Undergraduate School and Major: Université de Technologie de Troyes (France), Engineering Degree in Computer Science and Information Systems Management; Georgia Tech, Master of Science in Computer Science (dual-degree with MBA)

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Wavestone, IT and Data Architecture Consultant (Wavestone is a French consultancy firm specializing in big-scale IT transformations.)

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: As a consultant, I was brought onto a project that was failing, and the client was really unhappy. After redefining with him what needed to be done, putting in long hours to have the work done, and after presenting the final project, my client was really happy about things in the end. We thought we had lost a client, but it turned out that he hired my company for more projects after my intervention. Having this impact on a project is my biggest accomplishment so far.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Passion. All my classmates are here in order to pursue their dreams and find a job that aligns with their passion. Being pushed by their passion means that their level of motivation is really high. We always have amazing conversations on just about every subject and I have learned so much just by talking with everyone about their passions.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? The focus on technology. Coming to an MBA program – from a master’s degree in Computer Science – it was really important for the two to make sense as a whole. Scheller College, in the middle of Atlanta’s Technology Square, demonstrates that technology is present in every class and every project that we take on. Moreover, a lot of actions are taken around product management (clubs, workshops, West Coast Trek, etc.) and, as I wanted to go into this field, Scheller was an evident choice.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I am looking forward to the International Practicum held every spring semester. This class/activity is designed to consult for a foreign company during a semester, and to travel to its country to actually meet with the executives and present our work to them. Combining consulting experience and international travel in a higher-level business setting is something really valuable, different and eye-opening on our way of conducting our work.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I spent six years studying computer science, and that led me to a very comfortable understanding of technology and development. I realized while completing my master’s that my true passion was indeed technology, but more focused on the strategy behind the products, and the steps involved in the making of an idea, to turn it into a tangible result. As I was getting ready to graduate, I knew that an MBA was the way for me to get the missing knowledge in business I needed to approach the jobs I was targeting. I was eligible at this point for a dual MS/MBA degree at the same school, so I decided to not wait a couple of years to attend business school, but to rather dive in immediately.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? The goal for me was very clear as an MBA was the path to getting my dream job, and not having one could actually prevent me from getting considered for certain positions. As I knew this was my only path to personal success and happiness, the investment was worth the cost. The dual-degree program option also shortened the length of the MBA program, and thus the total cost of the program, while also allowing to continue my previous work as a teaching assistant with Georgia Tech’s College of Computing.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? None others.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I only looked at Scheller College as it has a dual-degree offering and when I decided that it was a fit, I didn’t apply to any other programs. My priority was indeed the focus on technology and how the MBA could blend with my computer science background. I knew some Scheller students beforehand (by meeting them around campus) and they were always really enthusiastic about the MBA program. The culture at Scheller can be understood easily by visiting the building for just a couple of hours. When I arrived for interview day, meeting with graduating students, alumni, professors, and staff, I felt like part of the family. Looking also at where the alumni are working now, many have jobs that match my career goals and I knew that I would benefit from this network and the program itself would help me reach my career goals.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? My defining moment was my exchange semester in Shanghai, China. I spent six months taking classes with Chinese students, exploring a new culture, and travelling along different cities and the countryside. I had to be understood without speaking the same language, use public transportation – which was very different than what I was used to. I developed a lot of adaptation tricks. I became more adventurous and more open to cultural differences, which really changed my perspective on the world. I met the most amazing people on this trip, and I still remember the lessons I learned from them, like humility, fraternity, and hospitality.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? I’d like to move to the West Coast and work as a product manager in technology. My goal would be to find a position in the management of machine learning products. Another dream of mine would be to launch my own side business helping young women achieve a balance between professional and personal successes.

Where do you see yourself in five years? I’d like to have been promoted to a senior management position. As a product manager, I would like to have a larger, more innovative role. (On a personal note, I hope my side business will have launched successfully, having helped women find success.)

Finally, I hope to have reached my goal to visit all 50 American states – plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico!