Getting Better

E. Jardin & C. Schoch

Gilles Pariente, PhD in economics, Economist with EMI Music in London.

After defending my thesis in December 2003, I decided not to try for the competitive to exam to become a university lecturer. I wanted to leave the academic world and do something else. I looked for jobs as study coordinator because jobs that are specifically for PhDs in Economics are not exactly common. I found a job at APEC (an employment agency for managers), but only stayed there six months. After four months on unemployment, I was hired by the French Chemical Industry Association (UIC) to create an observatory.

Six months later, for personal reasons and out of a taste for challenge, I wanted a change of scenery. I started by prospecting the British labor market. I filed my résumé on totaljobs and answered job offers, one of which came from EMI Music. They were looking for a rather broad profile PhD in economics to work on their corporate strategy and marketing. My application was selected. I went through an initial interview by phone in English. Then I was asked to come to the London headquarters where I met my future boss and another person from the team, a senior manager. Another interview a little while later followed by a fourth round with my new boss and the next higher-up. I managed to pass all the tests by proving to be very proactive. For instance, during my second interview, I had prepared transparencies to present how I saw the position, describing the projects I envisioned undertaking. I think my personality and my motivation mattered a lot in the recruitment process. My degree did to, that's for sure, because they were specifically looking for a PhD.

One year later, I can say that I've discovered a considerably different work environment, one that is more informal and more performance-oriented. Even if the atmosphere is relaxed (it's not unusual to go have beer with colleagues after work), at the same time, the demands for results are very high. What's more, hierarchical pressure is less obvious than it is in France, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. In fact, I’d say interpersonal relations are very guarded. Don't expect anyone to tell you straight to your face what he or she thinks of your work, that won’t happen. Also, you have to be able to see beyond appearances. It's not so easy at first, especially since the British adore irony, but I had no trouble adapting to these cultural differences and for the moment, I have no intention of returning to France.