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Interview with Valerio Forliano, GEM Alumni

Published on
09 May 2022

Discover Valerio, GEM Alumni of MSc Innovation Strategy and Entrepreneurship (2015-2017). Currently working for Ubisoft in Paris, as CRM Portfolio Manager. Valerio share his experience as an International student as well as insights for finding internship.
 

Hello Valerio, could you introduce yourself?

My name is Valerio Forliano and I am Italian. My background previous to GEM was in engineering.
I have done my Bachelor in Industrial Production and Management at Politecnico di Milano, which is the engineering school in Milan, which is pretty well known or easily found.
I had an internship for six months at Accenture, and it was an interesting experience as well. I then decided to continue my studies in Grenoble. I enrolled in the MSc Innovation Entrepreneurship and Strategy (ISE), it was a great experience. I started in September 2015 and I finished the classroom learning part in June 2016.

When I was still in Grenoble, Salesforce recruited me. So I moved to Dublin, in Ireland, where I started working as a salesperson. I followed, what at the time was a graduate program that Salesforce had. At the same time, I was also doing my thesis and so therefore, I graduated in 2017.  From there, I started working in Salesforce, I progressed through different levels and different roles. I mainly worked in the areas of business development, account management and territory management, which meant in Salesforce that you follow both the parts of sale and the parts of install base to existing accounts for Salesforce. You work on projects, not only on the sale part, but also on the implementation of the projects themself. I stayed there for four and a half years, up until September 2020 when Ubisoft hired me, which is a video game company. I moved from Dublin to Milan to Paris and I arrived here in Paris in December 2020.

I started my new role as manager of the CRM portfolio team at Ubisoft, which is the team that is dedicated to the delivery of strategies for all the services of Ubisoft, some that are non-inside the game. Ubisoft produces and sells games, but it is a larger ecosystem. The CRM strategy for Ubisoft is not only dedicated to the experience inside the game, but it is also dedicated to all of those moments outside the game. My team defines the strategies of different services and brands that are inside Ubisoft and we try as much as possible to orchestrate the type of content the audiences and the channels that we choose to use.

Did you have to speak French to go to work in Paris?

Officially no. I was hired as an English speaker so I would not say that it has been a problem that I did not speak French. From my role, it was not necessary, of course, I think, for French companies usually is preferable if you can speak French, but it does not always have to be like that. However, it is important and I do encourage students to learn French as much as possible even though it is not that easy, because the classes are in English and the groups are international, so you would not need that. However, if you are planning to stay in France, it is definitely something that can help you.

Regarding your background, why you did you pick GEM in 2015?

When I studied engineering, I was not aware of ecosystem of business schools across the world. To me, I knew Bocconi because it was in Milan, but I did not know that there was a ranking and so many different things. So the way I found out about GEM was by looking into a ranking on the Financial Time in which GEM was pretty highly ranked and then the decision went towards this compared to other schools, because I was really interested into the innovation strategy and entrepreneurship MSC. I was not specifically looking to go to France or to Grenoble, or to somewhere else, but I was looking, for higher education and I saw the different masters and the different programs, I tried to look at the classes and the courses that were inside. I was interested at the time by the ISE one, because I liked the concept of innovation, which caught my eye initially, I liked the fact that it was not only pure business side, everything that you learned about business was linked to the idea of innovation and entrepreneurship.
That is what caught my attention.

How did you live your international student life at GEM? How did you make the most of your time being an international student?

This was one of the most successful aspects of my year agenda was the fact that I was in a class with 15 different nationalities, I enjoyed the fact that it was not, you know, mainly Italians, mainly French, but it was international from across the globe. I think that personally, we were very lucky because we all got along very well. The fact of also having a lot of group projects helps you to bond immediately with people, that was a great experience. And I think, Grenoble helps because it's a small town, so it's very easy to catch up.
And now that I live in Paris, I do see the difference.

What opportunities did the experience bring you?

At that time I had interview with Nissan and others company. I really wanted to enter in the tech world and I knew that GEM had great connections with Salesforce, Google and so many others. And I remember, especially at the Career Fair, like, there were a lot of stands on different tech companies. To me, that was something that was very interesting I had a couple of interviews directly there as well. Before the Career Fair started, I had a couple of interviews planned.
What I tried to do was to prepare myself pretty well about which companies were going to be there. What were their interests, where were their products, a little bit about the company culture, because  when you are a student, and you do not have a lot on your CV, you are never going to be able to demonstrate the great expertise, but at least you should show that you prepared yourself, I think the impression that you can give is the fact that you have done your research.
It is much appreciated by recruiters.

Which advice could you give to the current students?

One thing that was important was to start this process very early. And I now see that being a hiring manager for my internships. We start a lot earlier than people think. Many students start late to look for internship, but they should know that it is something that is important to start early.

When you're at this point of your career, you really feel like those small experiences that you might have had, are irrelevant, because they might be seen to be short work experiences or not relevant. A work experience is something that I probably didn’t have at the time, like, it's something that you'll gain for many, many, many, many years to come. What you do have is yourself, is your personality, the impression that you give to people and even the way you describe experiences that you might not think are that relevant for a job, but that they demonstrate something about yourself. When you're doing an internship, nobody's going to expect you to know or to have the skills of course, it's going to be better if you do, but it's not something that will determine the outcome of that. So definitely prepare yourself try to think of what that company is looking for. What are the relevant points of interest, skills and commonalities, so if you work looking into sales, think about how the company is selling, what is it selling, how they do it? And those are things that you can find out on their website. if you're looking into a marketing company or like, or a marketing role, try and understand what is happening showing interest in what they're doing. Demonstrating this is going to be a lot more important than you having worked that has nothing to do with what they're doing anyways.

Thank you to Valerio for sharing his experience as an International GEM student, as well as his insights for finding an internship. 
 

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