Sophie Mandrillon, a graduate from Montpellier Business School’s (ESC Montpellier) Grande École Master’s course accessible through VAE [work experience validation]!

Montpellier Business School is one of the few top business schools to propose a VAE procedure leading to the award of the Grande École Master’s degree. In 2015, still one of the pioneering institutions, it already has, among the 23 applications presented and specifically supported, 17 “full” graduates of the Grande École VAE Master’s course. Interview with one of the 2015 jury winners: Mrs Sophie Mandrillon, Marketing Manager for Atout France.

Sophie defines herself as having the taste for challenges. At the age of 30, at a key moment in her career, she decided, in parallel with her professional activity, to shake up all of her knowledge to take stock of her skills. “After my vocational Bachelor’s degree, dedicated to international functions, I decided to start work! The opportunity was there, in London, as my final-year internship turned into contract. But, I think that deep down, I always knew that I would go back to my studies without having thought about how to do it. After several upward role changes in my career, at a key age, I wanted to find internationally recognised training that would lead to a diploma to work on a complete overhaul and to make the most of my skills”, she adds

Starting studies again, yes, within a framework, but also with certain conditions! Including that, notably, of not stopping my career. “It is no longer at all with the unique perspective of resuming one’s studies!”. Sophie looked at MBAs but thought she was far too young. She finally discovered VAE. Atout France, her employer, supports her approach. A partner with the “2 rives” firm, it introduced her to David Rivoire and especially Vincent Causse, a partner in the firm.

“If I have any advice to give to those looking for a course that leads to a diploma in parallel with their professional life, I would really recommend coaching to them. At 2 Rives and with my coach, I found the indispensable driver that I needed to write my evidence portfolio that is more than 200 pages long! The work I have done represents a genuine total overhaul to structure my career path, to explain it; it's almost work psychotherapy (laughs) because it involves talking about yourself, contextualising it, assessing it. This allowed me to have a very comprehensive vision, to act on my strengths and to immediately change some of my managerial stances”, she adds. “And beyond putting together the evidence portfolio, which I naively believed, at first, was going to be easy, there are modules and lessons! I was thrilled to work with the teaching team at Montpellier Business School, including Mickaël Géraudel, Patrick Mahé and David Roubaud for the 3 modules on Business Strategy, Management and Finance, who took the time to understand my environment to adapt their teaching... I loved this personalised return to studying... while sometimes having cursed the e-learning a bit when I was revising at the weekend! I have succeeded in obtaining this diploma with their help and that of my company, of course, but especially with the full support of my spouse, who, during seven months, accepted my life as a professional student. A Bac+ 5 diploma through VAE is therefore a collective affair!”