From lawyer and journalist to business leader
Anne-Claire Berg strives to ensure that the multinational corporation Danone lives and breathes its dual mission of creating both economic and social value. Anne-Claire combined her work with an Executive MBA, so that she could contribute to driving change with partners in a more impactful way.
Based on an interview with Anne-Claire Berg, General Secretary, UK and Ireland, Danone
Lessons learned from law and journalism: take time to reflect to impact more
Anne-Claire Berg enrolled in the HEC Executive MBA to improve her skillset and broaden her horizons.
“I see my career as a pebble that creates a ripple effect on my team, my company and on society. You leave a legacy behind you. To increase the effect, I needed to hone my skills. I took on the Executive MBA to help make me, my team, our work and the company vision, stronger and our actions more impactful.”
Anne-Claire started her career as a lawyer and became a journalist before working for Danone. She says, “I trained both to understand regulations and tell stories. I believe that these are powerful tools that drive change and can help make lives better. I use them now at Danone. The EMBA acted as a catalyst, giving me the time to think about the kind of leader I want to be, and how I can continue making a difference.”
Lessons learned from the executive mba: uncertainty should be embraced
The Executive MBA gave Anne-Claire a safe place to reflect on failure. As she explains it, “I kept hearing: ‘Don’t be afraid of failing, just fail fast and forward. If you don’t fail, then you have not tried hard enough or stretched yourself enough.’ I believe this is the recipe needed to unlock impact.”
Anne-Claire also found the skills to help her lead in the face of uncertainty. “I realised that I will never know it all, and it is wrong to think I will. It is all about asking the right questions and being ready to listen really hard to the answers, even if they add even more complexity into the picture. This is what helps you make the right decisions,” she says.
Danone works with many external partners, and Anne-Claire found that the EMBA helped her connect the “dots” around understanding the needs and challenges of her partners, so that they can work together for the common goal. The program also took Anne-Claire to South Africa and India. “In South Africa, I was introduced to the Ubuntu concept of ‘I am because we are.’ This is reflective of the direction of our economy that is moving from a ‘me’ to a ‘we’ economy, which I now think about when dealing with social media and social business,” she says. “In India, I learnt about frugal innovation, which I apply in my own daily job - remembering that you can have breakthrough ideas driven by constraints.”
The Executive MBA meant Anne-Claire needed to balance work, study and a family. “It was an intense period,” she admits, “but the EMBA was an energy booster because it helped me be true to my purpose of making a difference.”