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Nicolas Demarest

  • Programme: Accelerated Development Programme
  • Nationality: Belgian
  • Job Post-programme: Director – Sales & Wealth Structuring - Belgium, Lombard International Assurance S.A.

Nicolas has a marketing background and is responsible for the management of client and partner relationships at regional level. He was leading the Client Services department (International Middle Office) until 2011. He equally partook in the creation of the Key Account Management team, a unit of Senior Management members responsible for developing corporate relationships with Lombard’s largest and most important accounts.

New focus, vision and self-awareness

The Accelerated Development Programme made me a better person with a higher sense of self-awareness. It helped me to reposition myself, step up to a new role and gain a better understanding of my strengths and weaknesses. I now apply a more structured approach to solving problems and issues, thinking and focusing more on the longer-term objective rather than fire fighting.

I recently attended the alumni reunion weekend to catch up with some of my class members, along with the programme director. Just by talking and exchanging experiences showed me that we’ve all progressed as individuals; we have more confidence in ourselves and our vision thanks to our experience on the programme.

A transformational experience

The entire programme is truly enriching. Spread across two modules of two weeks each, the first week was a real eye-opener for everyone and a real highlight for me. In small groups we spent a week focusing on self-assessment, assessment of others and deep inner thinking. We talked about ourselves and how we see the future both in terms of our careers and our life in general. Some members were blown away by this exercise. It is rare to spend so much time looking inwards and listening to people talking about your personal behaviour and how it’s perceived by others.

The subsequent weeks focused on business topics, each one relevant for managers or leaders moving up into a broader role. It covered subjects that we require in daily life combined with refreshers of topics we use less frequently. We had very open conversations and even heavy debates in the classroom which made the experience interesting and exciting. The cherry on the cake for me was the wellbeing programme which allowed us to get physically back into shape, cleanse our minds and build new relationships.

Long-lasting global relationships

The one thing that made this experience stand out for me was the people. It is not often that you take a break from your current job and life environment to plunge into new surroundings with people you do not know; people from different countries, backgrounds and cultures. It’s remarkable that the programme manages to get more than 50 business professionals from all corners of the globe to think as a community rather than individuals.

To maintain the relationships developed on the programme we have quarterly conference calls where we share our personal and professional developments. We do this jointly with the ADP group coach who is fantastic at helping us manage certain challenges we face. I believe this long-lasting relationship to be unique in the world of business schools.

Empowered to face new challenges

Before the programme, I wanted to reassess my career path. I’d been in the same organisation for more than 18 years and had many managerial positions – was it time to change or not? The programme gave me the push I needed to change roles, take up a new challenge, get out of pure people management and move into a broader sales position which focuses more on business development.

Thanks to this programme I see that management and leadership is not only about your personal abilities but your ability to empower the people you work with. I have a better insight into the construction of my personal vision for both professional and personal spheres, something I have even managed to share with my spouse!