INSEAD Participant Interview
Inspiring Action and Transforming Leadership Abilities
Managing Director, South-East Asia and Australia at Vacheron Constantin
Past participant Yassin Tag explains how INSEAD’s Leading for Results programme is helping him energise his teams and create a culture of achievement.
Tell us about your career so far.
I’m Managing Director, South-East Asia & Australia at Vacheron Constantin, the Swiss luxury watch brand that is part of the Richemont Group. I started out working in investment banking as a financial analyst but I found the finance world pretty abstract and didn’t really enjoy it. In 2003, I was lucky enough to find a sales role at Vacheron Constantin and felt I’d found my niche.
Since then, I’ve worked as area sales manager and then regional brand director for the company’s Middle East and Indian markets, based in Dubai. In 2016, I was promoted to take care of the markets in South-East Asia, Australia and New Zealand. So I’ve changed my job four times in the last 13 years – quite challenging and exciting at the same time, as each promotion involved embracing a new responsibility or a new culture or both. I think it’s vital to keep the learning curve going.
What are some of the key management challenges you face in your job?
I lead an office team and a retail team – two very different groups, each with a mix of cultures, expertise, expectations and motivations. These groups also contain managers, and that brings challenges – building trust, for example. This is critical when managing managers as you have to rely on their observations and reports, rather than directly experiencing situations. So it’s an exciting, diverse but quite demanding role and before the INSEAD programme, everything I knew I had learnt on the job.
What made you decide to come on the programme? Did you consider any other courses or institutions?
I’d been in senior leadership roles for seven years and decided my skills needed boosting. Reading books is all very well, but I wanted the added push that comes from a group dynamic. I started looking round at what the top business schools had to offer and got very good feedback from colleagues who did INSEAD’s Leading for Results programme.
Were your expectations met? What were your key takeaways from the programme?
My experience with Leading for Results was simply the best learning experience I had since my MBA in France 20 years ago!
There were many takeaways that I found quite powerful and that have already improved my performance – the importance of networking, for a start. As senior managers rise in their careers and get busier and busier, they can often get a bit lax about continuing to build their network, which is a mistake. I also took away some great insights about leading change in organisations. As a team leader you need the whole team to accept change. I’m also paying a lot more attention to office politics. It’s important to understand how this works when trying to get your point of view across.
On a more personal note, the programme has made me more aware of my communication style and how I could adapt this in many areas, including with my family.
How will what you learnt on the programme help you meet the challenges in your work?
I’ve used what I learned to adapt my communication style and improve the way I relate to different team members. Then there’s the networking – I’ve made a real effort to branch out from my usual avenues and I’m finding it enriching to meet new people who can bring fresh perspectives and inspiration.
Have you changed your leadership style?
I don’t think you can ever completely change your style, but the programme highlighted certain aspects that I need to strengthen. So I’d say it made me more aware of the weaknesses I need to avoid as well as the strengths I can enhance.
What kind of leadership tools and frameworks did the programme provide?
The tools I found most effective were those that involved understanding the different types of personalities you’re dealing with in your team, then using the right emotions to energise them. Also, I learnt how to organise my thoughts in a more scientific way to boost my interpersonal skills; very useful.
How did you find the 360-degree feedback and coaching techniques?
I’m geographically separated from my superiors, which means it’s harder for them to give me feedback on my management style. I also don’t receive much feedback from the people I work with on a daily basis. So the professional analysis we received on the programme – delivered neutrally, without judgement – was a real moment of truth. The coaching builds on this, drawing on your life goals and clarifying what you want to achieve.
Did you benefit from the diversity of participants on the programme with you?
We had a rich mix of participants from all over the world and it was inspiring to hear their tips and suggestions for managing various leadership challenges. It was also reassuring to learn that despite our very different backgrounds, we all faced the same kinds of issues. All of us felt impacted in quite a thoughtful way by the programme, so we have kept in touch. So it’s also been a great exercise in network building.
What did you think of the teaching?
I was really impressed by the professors who taught us – they weren’t just knowledgeable, they were passionate about their subjects. They had a lot of specialised insights to share that showed they’d stayed close to the world of business. I came away feeling I’d been given the kinds of tools and information that I would have spent many years piecing together if I had to do it all on my own. You could say I saved myself a lot of professional time.
Click here to know more about INSEAD’s Leading for Results programme.