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From an early age, Marie-France Derderian knew she would lead businesses. Her love for innovation and relationship building took her first to sales, then business development and on to entrepreneurial leadership roles for over 20 years. Now Program Director of the new Glion MSc in Hospitality, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, we caught up with her ahead of the first intake in September 2019.

Born into a family of entrepreneurs, Marie-France studied business management, trade and marketing at the highly-respected Lyon University 1, before starting her professional career.

In 1995, after seven years at Decision Systeme International, she joined the SAS Institute (a leader in the business intelligence software industry) as an Account Manager. In 2002 she commenced a new career path to the well-known business school GEM (Grenoble Ecole de Management), this time on the faculty side, as Teacher and Program Manager of two Specialized Master: Business Intelligence, and Web Marketing.

Sixteen years at the triple-accredited business school saw Marie-France hold the positions of Program Director of MSc Innovation Strategy Entrepreneurship, and Program Director of MSc Business Development, teaching in Grenoble, Marrakech and Berlin.

Now at Glion, Marie-France has developed an MSc that prepares students for entrepreneurial and innovation-focused success through a practical framework and real-world experience.

“In my opinion, you cannot become an entrepreneur by simply getting a degree in this discipline, but you can acquire new skills and very precious and useful tools which can help you to become a successful entrepreneur much faster.”

A lifetime of business lessons

In a career spent ahead of the curve in multiple industries, Marie-France has started, built and grown businesses in numerous new and innovative markets.

“My DNA is to create, to learn and to transmit. From the very beginning of my professional life, when it’s a new business/market/industry innovation…that’s for me!

“I was not afraid to jump and to take new challenges even though it was risky for me and completely out of my comfort zone.

Broadening perspectives

As a Senior Lecturer, Marie-France will also be teaching the MSc in Hospitality, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, a part of her role at Glion that she relishes.

“My favourite part in teaching is to help students to change their mindset, to consider a new opportunity for them, to broaden their landscape of perspectives. I could not have been happier when a student told me: “I didn’t think this business or job was for me but now after taking your class, I realize I can do it and I could be successful and happy with it.”

My way of teaching is more flipped classes. I prefer working with students on case studies or business projects; as Benjamin Franklin said: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn.”

The entrepreneurial mindset

Having spent a lifetime in and around entrepreneurial roles, Marie-France believes successful innovators have a mindset, one that students can begin to cultivate before they start on the Master’s program.

“A perfect candidate for this new Master is someone for whom their attitude and personality are their main assets. I’ll tell the applicant: “The most important thing is not to be graduated, but what do you want to do beyond this Master?”

“He/she should know why they want to take this class and what they are willing to bring to this Master. What knowledge, expertise, arts practice he/she wants to share, to teach to his/her classmates.”

The power of passion

Above all else, Marie-France cites one trait as essential to success when starting a business. “Passion is my key word: if you do not have passion in everything you undertake, professionally or personally, then your chances of succeeding are low. Passion is the driving factor towards success. It makes the difference between a good manager and an outstanding one. Your passion will transform your audience or your team and motivate them.”

“Passion fosters enthusiasm and encourages your staff/colleagues to adhere to your projects and give you their very best. It gives you courage and strength in the face of adversity as sometimes life is not always easy, it is fate. Passion leads you to always persevere in order to reach your goals but also to establish new ones.

A skillset for the new hospitality industry

For Marie-France, this Master’s is imperative to give the next generation of hospitality leaders the skills needed in the modern industry. “You shouldn’t believe the hospitality industry is different from other ones – that would be a huge mistake. The hospitality industry will see the same shifts and should be ready to manage it properly and seriously.”

“We are at the very beginning step of huge transformations in every market/industry thanks to the technology: AI, 5G, VR, blockchain etc. These huge transformations will change everything, and it will provide new innovative services and improve drastically the guest experiences.

The first intake on the Master’s in Hospitality, Entrepreneurship and Innovation is September 2019. To learn more about study topics and to apply, visit our dedicated MSc page, and for more about the course, you can read our MSc introduction.

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About the author

Glion Institute of Higher Education
Glion Institute of Higher Education is a private Swiss institution offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees in hospitality, luxury and event management to an international student body across three campuses in Switzerland and London, UK.
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