Since taking on the role of General Director and Dean of Grenoble Ecole de Management (GEM), in September 2022, Fouziya Bouzerda has spent time meeting the women and men who make the school what it is: its teams, its partners, the major actors in its ecosystem. Today she shares with us her vision and priorities for the coming months.
After these first few months immersed in the school, how do you see things today?
FB: First of all, I’m even more certain that I made the right choice: GEM is a fabulous school with a wealth of talent! It may be approaching its 40th anniversary, but it’s still a modern school which has always asserted its pioneering spirit and whose DNA is firmly rooted in technology management. The academic achievement is uncontested, as shown by the breadth and depth of its faculty, and it has a proven track record in innovation. However, it seems to me that its identity, which has always made it stand out, has not always been properly understood or appreciated. This identity, along with our capacity for operating as a Business Lab for Society, should be asserted even more clearly.
Since the beginning this identify has been rooted in the Grenoble ecosystem. Does GEM still have a legitimate role to play in this ecosystem?
More than ever! The school was built for and around this ecosystem. I have met with the major industrial, academic and research actors who make Grenoble the driving force it so clearly is. They all reasserted their desire to continue working with and alongside GEM. All these actors need managers trained in the challenges facing a world in transition and need support for their own development. GEM has both the legitimacy and the assets required to continue to train managers and entrepreneurs capable of thinking and leading companies to tackle the major environmental and energy challenges we face. .
What are your priorities for the coming year?
Our top priority is to rethink our partnership strategy, first and foremost with businesses. Our corporate partners should be fully-engaged stakeholders in the school: we need businesses as much as they need us. We already have an extensive network we can rely on: the local economy is bursting with leading firms and GEM alumni - all with a strong attachment to the school - the perfect resource pool for developing lasting relationships. Not to mention the exceptional support of our excellent Chairs and GEM Labs. We now need to be even more ambitious in how these partnerships are set up, to lead our community and encourage everyone to take pride in being members of the wider GEM “family”.
the Paris Pantin campus, will be operational as of September 2023
At the time of your appointment, the school was committed to a 5-year strategic plan, where does this plan stand today?
Indeed, the school is committed to a number of major undertakings for the period up to 2025, with digital technology firmly embedded at the heart of these projects. Of course, these projects are still relevant and we will continue to develop them, although budget constraints mean we are looking for new sources of funding. One of these projects, the Paris Pantin campus, will be operational as of September 2023 and perfectly embodies our environmental commitments, our positioning as a Business Lab for Society and our société à mission (equivalent to B corp) status. This campus will provide the perfect setting for bringing together all our communities: students, French and international alumni, businesses, academic partners etc. and will contribute to extending the school’s influence beyond Grenoble.
What are the prospects in terms of international development?
It is absolutely vital that we continue our international expansion in Asia, given that technology is such a key part of our DNA. There are also partnerships to be developed and hybrid training courses to be designed, in particular in collaboration with engineering schools.
You have spent most of your career working as a lawyer. You are also involved in politics and a number of charitable organizations through which you have defended diversity and women’s representation in senior roles. How are you approaching this new challenge of leading GEM?
As the first chapter of a new story! The broad diversity of the professional, charitable and political activities I have been involved with to date, has led me to operate in and dialogue with very different worlds, to play a role as a stakeholder in ambitious projects, and to have an impact on major transformations. I am a woman of conviction and strong values: I firmly believe in the virtue of sincerity. This allows me to get to grips with complex situations.
GEM is in a transition phase and this is an ideal opportunity for the school which is fortunate to be able to build on solid foundations. I hope that we will give it the boost is deserves, to re-ignite the flame that has always burned within it. And as I am a reasoned optimist, I am a firm believer in the importance of method for reaching the end goal. All the school’s teams can count on me to stand alongside them to encourage and embody this dynamic of renewal.