Bolder, Better, Stronger: One Woman’s Next-Level Career Journey
For Rany Pa, enrolling in the ESSEC & Mannheim Executive MBA Program was one of the best decisions she’s made—for both her personal and professional development. And even after 20 years in the banking industry, she’s found better, more effective ways to excel at what she does.
Image credit to Rany Pa
Rany Pa has built her entire career around change. The Cambodian-born, French-raised management executive started out in the Finance Capital Market Paris Results team and is now the Global Head of Change Management, Control and Quality at BNP Paribas Securities Services—a role which requires her to drive and manage change across the bank’s systems and processes, highlighting weakness and improving efficiency in response to developments in Global Market and Treasury activities.
But after almost 20 years with the bank, Rany had reached a point in her career where she wanted to break through to the next level. And she knew that to do so, she would need to acquire new knowledge.
So with the blessing of her management, she enrolled in the 15-month ESSEC & Mannheim EMBA Asia-Pacific Program based in Singapore—and it’s been one of the best career decisions she’s made so far.“You can imagine how much the world has changed since I left university 20 years ago,” Rany says. “And with digital transformation affecting not just banking but every industry right now, I thought the only way for me to understand it better was to join an academic program.”
A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE FOR A GLOBAL ROLE
Two topics stood out to Rany when she was looking through ESSEC’s EMBA curriculum: digital transformation and geopolitics, both of which she identified as essential to effective change management.
“If you want to run a global business, you need to understand the global economic environment, and I think geopolitics is key to that,” she explains. “You can see the impact of geopolitics on the COVID-19 situation right now—you can assess different countries’ economic strategies based on their politics.”
Having spent her whole life living, studying, and working in France, Rany also wanted to open her eyes to experiences in the APAC region. She confesses to a mild culture shock upon first arriving in Singapore in 2015.
“I had a smartphone but didn’t really use it very much,” she recalls. “But I soon realized that in Singapore, you cannot live without your smartphone because everything is conducted on it! So yes, it was important for me to experience these sorts of regional trends in person, and I now understand the differences I see in retail banks in APAC compared to Europe or France.”
For her EMBA program, Rany also chose the APAC track over the Europe one because she wanted to open new opportunities for herself in the region—class content and case studies for the APAC track have a more pan-Asian core, with region-specific classes like New Business Models in Asia and Business Negotiations in Asia.
“It gives me the freedom to choose whether to work in APAC in the future or stay on in Europe,” she explains.
APPLYING WHAT SHE’S LEARNT
With the new skills she’s learnt from the executive program, Rany now has many more opportunities to initiate transformation in her organisation. “My day-to-day work and the way I manage people now is completely different,” she shares.
“In the past,” she reflects, “change management used to be siloed. For example, if you wanted to introduce a new IT application, you would only focus on system changes. But system changes will also have an impact on the rest of its environment, like the people and processes. So now I help provide what I call an end-to-end or transversal approach to change management, which involves other teams and relevant stakeholders in the change review process.”
Collaborating with a diverse and global cohort during her time at ESSEC has also given Rany invaluable lessons in how to communicate effectively across cultures and nationalities. Most importantly, it’s taught her the importance of open-mindedness in building adaptability.
“Change is happening all over the world, all the time,” she shares. “To tackle it, we have to be more open-minded and receptive to alternative ways of doing things. Only when we listen to different opinions and perspectives can we have collaborative discussions that result in new and unique solutions.”
And cultivating an inclusive culture through collaboration is a huge part of Rany’s current role as Global Head of Change Management. When asked how she helps employees overcome resistance to change, Rany advocates empowerment, leading by example, and actively involving them in the change process—insights she’s gleaned from the ESSEC EMBA program’s strong focus on actionable learning and tactical frameworks.
During her time at ESSEC, Rany’s interactions with professionals from a multitude of industries—not just banking—also gave her the exposure and confidence to step out of her comfort zone and take on new challenges at work.
And having experienced first-hand the value of having people with different perspectives, backgrounds, and cultures working together, Rany hopes to incorporate more diversity in her organization.
“I really want to have a team with diversity,” she shares, “whether in terms of gender, religion, or culture. On my current team, I have people who are French nationals but were born in Morocco, and people who are currently working in France but originally from India.”
“I’ve realized that it’s easier to improve communication with regional hubs when you have a team that’s multicultural or experienced in working with multicultural teams. Having someone who is familiar with, for example, the US or South American work culture makes discussions easier and more efficient, especially when any issues or conflicts of interest arise.”
SCALING NEW PEAKS
Rany is exceedingly proud upon graduating from the executive program. “It was like turning a page,” she beams. “There is a new life waiting for you after graduation.”
But she also emphasizes the importance of perseverance and commitment to seeing the program through—juggling work, study, and family is no mean feat and a very real challenge that every EMBA candidate needs to face.
Thankfully, Rany had the full backing of her company’s management and her family, who understood her motivations for pursuing further education.
“It’s really an experience in building resilience and self-confidence,” Rany reflects. “But if you can overcome this, you’ll be able to overcome anything. The experience will completely change the way you think about your own limits.”
With her EMBA in hand, Rany is poised to conquer new heights and take the next step in her career. And having triumphed over the difficulties of balancing her professional, academic, and personal commitments, she is now fearless in the face of any challenge that may come her way.
“Whatever the topic, whatever the environment, I’m ready to tackle it,” she says boldly.