Welcoming our 39th Major Partner, Extia, with a conference on managerial agility and collaborative practices


On 15 March, the staff and students at Montpellier Business School welcomed Extia Founding President Arnaud Frey and Human Resources Director Emmanuelle Pays for the signing of a new major partnership. This was followed by a plenary conference on the theme of “Managerial Agility and Collaborative Practices”. It was a captivating conference for the hundreds of students attending, who gained new insight into the philosophy of this 1000-employee company specialising in engineering consulting and committed to encouraging agile management and well-being at work. The company speaks from authority: Extia placed third in the 2017 Best Workplaces in France list and has been a continuous presence in the Great Place to Work rankings since 2012.

Mr. Arnaud Frey launched the conference with a speech before the entire final-year student body of the MBS Master Grande Ecole programme. He summarised the history of his entrepreneurial adventure in a few words. “I created my company 10 years ago. I was 30 years old; I had a good job, but I wasn’t having fun, so I said stop! I was looking at myself in the mirror when I had this thought: Don’t work; have fun! But what does that mean? Because really, you have no choice — you have to work. But spending 40 years of your life not having fun? That’s got to be horrible. And this is someone who works a lot telling you this!”

“First who, then what!” That’s the philosophy at Extia, which puts people at the centre — not of the problem, but of the solution. “Agility is a state of mind,” continued A. Frey. “It’s permanent adaptation and positive thinking. In other words, it’s always seeing the glass as half full. Keep that in mind when you run up against a problem, because every problem is an opportunity. It’s that concept that will make you happy and make you have fun at work.”

It was an interactive conference, devoid of doublespeak, led by a captivating duo. Extia Human Resources Director, Emmanuelle Pays, told the students: “Extia has three basic principles: The first is empowerment; in other words, it’s each person’s ability to find more latitude to have more power of action and decision. The second is continuous improvement, because it’s not the strongest species that survives, or the most intelligent. It’s the one that’s best at adapting to change, and that requires an attitude of humility. The third principle is the Extia ecosystem, with roughly 100 evenings and events a year, half of which are to create memories together. Because we’re much more effective if we have friends at work!”

Another important point raised by A. Frey: the right to make mistakes. “That right is fundamental because what’s killing our businesses is the fact that people are no longer taking initiatives. They’re telling themselves that if they fail, they’re going to be judged, they’re going to be singled out for ridicule… Our concept is fail, but fail fast! That means that you can make a mistake, but you can’t get bogged down in that failure for a long time; you have to move quickly on to something else. And you inevitably learn from it. With an attitude like that, you don’t restrain yourself, you don’t regret. You’re continually in a process of innovation.”

Montpellier Business School is delighted to have this new major partner on its Advisory Board and looks forward to sharing its fascinating ideas and values.

More info at: www.extia.fr