Students at the heart of Ferrero France’s Executive Committee
Published on 04/13/2023
‘It’s one of the greatest opportunities of my life!’ This is how Chloé, student in the NEOMA Master in Management programme, described the two days she spent with Marie Zajdman, member of the executive committee of one of the biggest French players in the agrifood industry.
With a passion for the agrifood sector, Chloé Gérard, NEOMA Master in Management student, did not hesitate one minute in applying for the ‘Deep Dive into Leadership’ project, organised in partnership with Ferrero and offered as an option to students.
‘I already knew about Ferrero because I did my Food Service Category Manager internship with them. I really liked the company and saw how inspiring all the executives were. When I knew that I had the chance to spend two days shadowing a member of the Ferrero executive committee, I did want to let it slip by!’ Chloé said excitedly.
Throughout this immersive experience, Chloé and Victorine, one of her class peers, shadowed Marie Zajdman, region marketing manager for the Kinder brand. ‘Ms. Zajdman immediately brought us into the fold and took the time to give us a presentation of the company and explain her schedule for the next two days that we would spend with her. She was really friendly and welcoming’, Chloé said. Over two days, the students attended all of her meetings. ‘Before each meeting, she explained its objectives so we would understand the subjects under discussion’.
The easy access to all the executives and the transparency of the discussions are two of the most surprising aspects for the students. ‘When she was not in a meeting or on the phone, Ms. Zajdman always had her office door open to us. She answered our questions easily and worked very closely with her employees. We were also very surprised when Nicolas Neykov, Ferrero managing director, sat down right next to one of us during the meeting. He was very accessible!’
During the different meetings, all the subjects were openly discussed in front of the students, including confidential matters, which gave them the chance to observe and understand the talks that different committee members have on a daily basis.
The friendly atmosphere and family mindset that pervaded the headquarters of Ferrero also impressed Chloé and Victorine. ‘There is real loyalty at the company. For example, most of the members of the executive committee have been working there for ten to fifteen years’, Chloé said. ‘Ferrero is above all a family company where the passionate and committed people develop the company’s future every day by moving forward together in the same direction.
For Chloé, it was a completely positive experience. But above all, it helped her change her view of management and see that she could be a manager one day. ‘Before this shadowing, I thought that a manager had to be impressive and intimidating to their teams. After the past two days with Marie Zajdman, I realised that it was quite the opposite!’
Reassured of the role and attitude of a leader. Chloé is looking forward and thinking about managing a team in a few years. ‘I saw that a manager doesn’t really have to have all the answers but that it’s about working alongside their teams that so everyone can make the right decisions together’.
For giving her this unique experience, Chloé would like to thank all the Ferrero teams as well as, at NEOMA, Florence Cognie, Course leader – in charge of the shadowing project, and Jean-Baptiste Suquet, professor in the People and Organisations Department.