I knew everything about medicine but not the rest.
Iris Zemzoum

Iris Zemzoum

Iris Zemzoum
Nationality/Passport: German Year of graduation: 2008 Current Role: General Manager, Janssen Germany

How has the INSEAD EMBA changed your life and career?

I knew everything about medicine but not the rest. I’d been a doctor and moved successfully into the commercial world, but I felt I didn’t have the tools: finance, marketing, general management. So I had good reasons to enrol at INSEAD. But, when you start the GEMBA, you don’t know that you’ll get things you aren’t looking for. So in the end it was probably the leadership element that had most impact on my career. If you don’t have the soft skills, you’ll never be successful.

What is your favourite GEMBA memory?

The one and a half years went so fast that, in some ways, the best memories are from after the programme. They remind us that we’re still together as a class. We’ve had weddings, birthdays and meets all over the world.

Would you do the INSEAD EMBA all over again?

Definitely. I always recommend it to other people. Two or three of them – all from a medical science background – have been in touch to say thank you after completing the programme! On the other hand, I always recommend that people do the programme at the right time in their careers: not too early to build on past experience, not too late to be able to learn from it.

Do you keep in touch with INSEAD, as well as your classmates?

In fact, I’ve worked with Vincent Dominé, who currently heads the Leadership Development Programme. He has been my personal coach and helped me when I was recruiting new members of the board.

How would you like to see the INSEAD EMBA programme develop?

I’d like to see more women doing the EMBA. This is an issue I care about a great deal. I had my first baby six weeks ago and I’m trying to send the right signals to my employees, by showing them that it is possible to combine having a family with a senior career.

Where do you see yourself going in the next ten years?

Since doing the GEMBA, I’ve moved into general management and continued step by step. I currently head a company with 800 employees and the revenues are growing steadily. So, the next challenge is likely to be an even larger operation and maybe more responsibility across regions.

How would you sum up the GEMBA learning?

You learn to develop yourself into an inspirational leader who can lead people through different situations and still keep the big picture in view.