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Pierre Thomas
Pierre Thomas

Operations Manager, Ubisoft

Going international

I have a degree in "value chain and logistic management" obtained in 2009 which has the advantage of being a double degree between EM Normandie and Macquarie University in Sydney. The content of this Master's degree attracted me from the start and guided my choice to join EM Normandie. This programme did not require students to go to Australia for six months, even though there were two of us in my class who finally went there.

This trip confirmed my desire to explore distant lands.

It's not the courses themselves that give expatriation its richness. It's everything that surrounds it, such as the richness of a country and its environment. It's also about developing your openness to the world and to others, whether in a studious or more festive mode, by travelling a lot, by participating in community life...

I spent 6 months in Wellington, New Zealand. I had set aside some time to be able to do an internship or have an experience on the spot. I had the advantage of already being in Australia.

Strong bonds within a class

In our class, we were scattered in different parts of the world and yet we were quite connected. Even today, there are still several groups within our class. We get together regularly.

In fact, we celebrated our 10th anniversary last year in Le Havre with a weekend of reunions and parties.

The ability to adapt to any situation

As a student in Australia, I didn't get to know many local people. I was sharing a flat with French people. We had parties with foreign students, even if there were a few Australians. We already spoke good English at that time and our French accent was never a problem to communicate! 

In New Zealand, however, the experience was different because I was immersed in the culture. The company where I did my internship was managed by a Frenchman so I sometimes spoke French. For the rest, I worked in the evening in a bar in Wellington to make ends meet and to make local contacts.

My experience in New Zealand forced me to take the plunge.

When you're behind the bar serving beers to New Zealanders with a strong accent, it creates an uncomfortable situation, but it makes you grow. 

Today, when I find myself in certain international situations, I think back to those moments and tell myself that I was able to adapt at the time. There's no reason why I can't do it again when I call a professional. 

The choice of an international career

After this experience in New Zealand, I already wanted to pursue an international adventure, not necessarily from a professional point of view. Returning to France was not my preferred option. I had applied for various positions in New Zealand, notably for the organisation of the Rugby World Cup. I wasn't selected but it could have been fun!

I had also done an internship in London during my elective year and had kept several contacts. That's how I was able to get a job. London is a city I love! I was working in the tourism industry for a rather high-end tour operator that offered luxury adventure travel to the four corners of the world. I was in charge of their digital marketing. 

These two years in London were enriching both professionally and personally. I shared a flat with an Irishman, Australians and New Zealanders, the whole Commonwealth community that is very present in this city. It's a great way to get to know all these cultures in the context of work and personal life. Going to see a cricket match with South Africans really helps you understand the spirit of the sport. Going to a pub party with the English allows you to discover specific aspects of their culture.

Today, with 10 years of hindsight, I see a real added value to these international experiences.

A career with a big company

After my job in London, I was contacted by Ubisoft in Paris to join their team. As I had few prospects for advancement in the small structure where I was in London, I didn't ask myself too many questions. I was delighted to find my classmates in Paris. I got a flatshare with one of them. 

When I joined Ubisoft, a division for a certain type of game was being created. They needed online acquisition expertise in each of the European countries.

That's where I was approached because I'm French and I worked in London in customer acquisition.

I was taken for this position even though I was not close to the video game world. However, you have to be familiar with the industry to understand it well, without being a great gamer. 

After my experience in marketing, I joined the sales team as an operations manager. I use a lot of what I learned in marketing. I'm at the crossroads between the sales, marketing and production teams on everything related to the commercial offer: game prices, release dates, acquisition events, etc. I synchronise all these business tactics for the EMEA division and more globally, as we spend our time aligning ourselves with what is done in the US.

I have grown step by step, giving my best in the positions I have held, thinking about the next goal to achieve.

However, I didn't have a specific career plan at Ubisoft, especially since our business is changing so much. I preferred to focus on doing the job well without thinking too much about what would happen next. I also wanted to maintain my motivation and desire to go to work in the morning.

Believe in yourself and cultivate the desire to move forward

Working at Ubisoft, I'm lucky enough to be supported by the management and HR teams and to be able to regularly review my progress. I don't have the feeling that there is a lot of competition to progress within the company. Positions are created and teams evolve regularly. The people I know at Ubisoft are fulfilled in their jobs even if they haven't always got the position they wanted. 

Personally, I have the daily desire to invest myself, to improve and to bring what I can to my team and to the company. I have a very pleasant working environment, but also a very professional one, even though we are in the game business.

When you feel a lack of desire in your work, it's time to look at the positive you can get out of an experience. Even when you don't have a set career plan, you can learn about yourself through experience. All of my classmates, including myself, have experienced recruitment setbacks or missed out on internship or expatriation opportunities.

You have to believe in yourself and keep on wanting. 

Sometimes you have to let yourself go and be positive. Ten or twenty years later, you are not so far from where you would have been if you had taken a different path. It's by accepting opportunities that you gradually make your way. I wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't done my internship in London during my studies. It opened doors for me after graduation, which then led to me being recruited at Ubisoft. There was no connection between a marketing internship at Club Med and my current position in the video game industry in Paris.

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