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11 June 2024

In conversation with Grégoire Pennone: “Strategy and perseverance are key to turning challenges into triumphs.”

The Business world has seen a rapid change in effective management that gave way to the movement of bosses to leaders in today’s growing demand for strategic leadership. Some may see it as a trend, but in essence, it is these elements that modern enterprises have increasingly recognized the need to invest in and develop their leadership skills and resilience. Let’s set the grounds for an ideal model perspective, highlighting our alumnus of the EMBA program and the current CEO of ONE swiss bank, Grégoire Pennone. His journey in academia and career growth exuberates transformation.

The journey of academia began at the heart of Switzerland – Geneva, where Grégoire first obtained his master’s in Law from the University of Geneva. In speaking to Grégoire, he recalls, “I graduated from high school in 1994 and from the University of Geneva in 1998. My initial focus was on Law, but I later realized the need to broaden my expertise.” The rooted history and experience with UNIGE led him back to his alma mater to pursue his Executive MBA, a decision poised to deepen his understanding of management, communication, and marketing.

Looking through the Glass: The EMBA Pursuit
While working for a public relations agency in the mid-2000s, Grégoire quickly realized the need to expand his Acumen beyond legal training. He emphasized by saying, “I felt the need to gain more insights into management and communication, fields that were not my background.” Grégoire carefully considered his options, weighing in his predicaments, and found a perfect fit with UNIGE EMBA Program that offered flexible schedules, structured modules and the element of particle applications in real-world scenarios. He explained, “I started with a Certificate in Advanced Studies in Communication and Marketing, which was part of the MBA. It was challenging but manageable, and eventually, I completed the entire EMBA.”

Challenges Incite Growth and Learning
The experience Grégoire shared with us was both rewarding and demanding for him. The program structure was well-fitting, offering over-the-weekend classes that balanced his work schedule and studying efficiency. He noted, “It was challenging, but the focused schedule helped me manage my time. The courses, particularly in strategy, were invaluable.” Grégoire placed high importance on strategic thinking framework, quoting, “Understanding our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats has been crucial in navigating our competitive environment,” applying SWOT analysis to business challenges even today.

Bridging knowledge with professional practice
It is critical to see academic learning having practical application to real-world conditions, and Grégoire signified that aspect of the EMBA Program amiably. He recalled, “In law school, everything was very theoretical. The EMBA, on the contrary, was about real-world applications.” When understanding leadership and teamwork, collaboration during program engagement, fostered class projects and group integration, on which Grégoire eloquently stated, “Working in groups, understanding different profiles, and achieving common goals were key lessons. It taught me the importance of harmonizing diverse skills to create coherent and effective outcomes.”

Setting a waypoint to success: One Swiss Bank
The banking sector is one of the most competitive and complex landscapes today, and Geneva is considered uniquely challenging. Grégoire joined ONE swiss bank as CEO in 2015, and in 2016, he played a strategic role in mitigating key challenges with a directive vision and perseverance that paid off for the bank. He explains, “We multiplied our business base by nearly 15 times. It was all about having a clear strategy and understanding our environment.” In his statement above, Grégoire iterated that strategy and resilience are prime attributes to success in his role, paying homage to the teachings garnered during his EMBA. “The ability to think strategically and persevere through challenges has been vital,” he enlightens.

Achieving greatness on ethical grounds
It is not just about professional success in the journey to achieving greatness, as the path leads to personal growth in oneself. Grégoire defines his journey, “The EMBA gave me the mental space to think about broader concepts and how to apply them in my career.” He centralized his leadership principles on sincerity and commitment, which reflected his efforts in achieving a positive and productive work environment. He concluded perfectly by citing, “Being sincerely committed to our goals and values is essential. It’s more than just business; it’s about leading with integrity and purpose.”

Giving way to future leaders
In times of today, leaders incite leaders to greater echelons through aspirations in their sectors and beyond. Grégoire stated fundamentally, “Strategy and perseverance are key to turning challenges into triumphs.” His story serves that inspiration, underscoring a transformative journey we all must accomplish through advanced business education, acquiring a strategic thinking framework, and adapting perseverance.

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