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Julien Wormser: What Cape Town taught me about myself

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  • March 15,2021
  • Tags Stellenbosch, business school, Europe, Grenoble, France, alumni, exchange student

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International exchange student and new Chairperson for the USB Alumni Europe Chapter, Julien Wormser, takes us through his experience of coming to USB and the valuable lessons he’s adopted and brought back to Europe.

In 2003 I was a standard student at Grenoble Ecole de Management, one of the top graduate business schools in France and was then offered an opportunity to enrol in an exchange program at a partner university somewhere in the world. Without any hesitation, I chose the University of Stellenbosch Business School.

Without any hesitation, I chose the University of Stellenbosch Business School.

Those six months were to be the happiest, the richest and most interesting moments of my student life and I feel so fortunate to have had a chance to meet people from all over the world, to have been taught by eminent professors and, last but not least, to have come to know and love South Africa and its ‘Bring-and-Braai’ parties. Ever since I came back from South Africa, I have adopted a Bring-and-Braai philosophy. More than merely a South African way of life, I now regard these parties as the source of my philosophical rebirth. Don’t think or act alone: bring your piece of kudu meat and end up eating boerewors.

Believe it or not – ever since I came back from South Africa, I have adopted a Bring and Braai philosophy… Don’t think or act alone but bring your piece of kudu meat and end up eating boerewors.

In a professional context as well as in the personal sphere, the Bring-and-Braai way of thinking is valid and worth considering. If you think alone… you will stay alone. It may be less risky but so much less rewarding and cheerful! And that’s why from then on, I decided to live and act differently.

After my graduation, I worked for a few years as a business consultant at CSC Peat Marwick with the feeling that working with sibling partners was highly educative but maybe not in concordance with myself. That’s why, four years later, I chose to abandon my suit and tie for a company more authentic, nearer to what I considered real life: Tokheim, with a factory and blue-collar workers. As a business analyst, I enjoyed meeting those people. It was so exciting! I must admit that I have always preferred working with people in a context far from my own habits.

After seven years in the oil industry, I joined Alstom as Finance Transformation Project Manager during the Alstom-GE deal. It was great working there! Why? Just because I had a chance to work with people from all over the world, which reminded me the time spent on the benches of USB. In the morning you would chat with Australia, India or Saudi Arabia and after lunch you would turn to Europe and Americas! Every day brings you a chance to meet people who help you grow.

Every day brings you a chance to meet people who help you grow.

I then worked for a few months for Colas as Business Intelligence Project Manager and I must say I deeply enjoyed my experience in civil engineering industry… the smell of asphalt and the presence of the ground!

But I wanted to leave Paris. I had lived in the big city for fifteen years and I was in quest of something different. I moved to Lyon where I joined Carrier as Business and Strategy Analyst. I was pleased to find nice people in this new surrounding and that’s why, in spite of challenging conditions, after more than three years, I still work for the same company.

Those six months in Matieland have opened my eyes and helped me choose the way I wanted to follow in my life.

From Stellenbosch, I have learnt so much more than simply preparing my home-made biltong! Those six months in Matieland have opened my eyes and helped me choose the way I wanted to follow in my life. Don’t focus on yourself, but take the risk to go out and meet the unknown. You may fall and fail but never miss the opportunity to reflect about where you want to go and who you want to be.

USB made me a Matie!

Baie Dankie USB

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