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Sebastien Gentilini

  • Programme: High Performance People Skills for Leaders
  • Nationality: French
  • Job Post-programme: Country Manager Slovenia, Japan Tobacco International

Education and career:

Sebastien started his career as an Industrial Engineer with Medtronic, the Swiss manufacturer of medical technologies. He then spent six years as a Strategy Consultant with the Boston Consulting Group in Paris, Rome and Brussels. Since 2009, Sebastien has led the strategic planning process for tobacco manufacturer, JT International. He completed the High Performance People Skills for Leaders programme in 2011.

Success through cooperation

My initial reasons for choosing an executive programme were strongly tied in with my individual and organisational performance goals. I believe that superior performance requires all stakeholders across a company to be both engaged and empowered. I currently lead the strategic planning process for JT International, so efficient cooperation across all levels, geographies and functions is critical to the success of my projects.

Enrolling in London Business School’s High Performance People Skills programme was a way of developing my leadership skills to leverage my team’s ideas and improve their performance output. It was my HR department that recommended the course to me; the programme had already received excellent feedback from previous JT International participants and the School’s strong global reputation was a major added benefit.

Personal insight

I hoped that the programme would help me gain a better understanding of how others perceived me, and to exit the course with a concrete development plan. I found the one-to-one executive coaching to be particularly valuable. These sessions provided me with an opportunity for self-reflection and helped me better recognise my strengths and weaknesses. For example previously, I had felt it more efficient to structure my projects upfront and then delegate tasks to different team members. With time to reflect, I realised there was potential for this type of approach to create real frustrations within the team. I was making autonomous decisions with limited input or suggestions from others and restricting contributions that might benefit project delivery and outcomes.

To address this, my coach encouraged me to trust my team more. I’ve realised that getting people aligned behind shared objectives is absolutely key to quality of output. By focussing on my interpersonal skills, I’ve learned to adapt my management style to different stakeholders and delegate more effectively. I’ve also actively sought out situations where I can develop people and am much better at acknowledging and accepting their concerns, suggestions and expectations. My team get regular feedback (and provide me with the same) and as a result, are much more committed to successful project delivery.

Accepting feedback

HPPS provided the perfect opportunity to interact with people across different cultures, backgrounds and industries. Stepping out of my usual working environment and learning alongside such a diverse group of classmates allowed me to talk openly about my business concerns, and was the perfect forum in which to share ideas and discuss challenges. Everybody was able to be completely frank – there were no in-house interests and agendas to protect. In both small groups and whole group sessions, I got a much more realistic sense of how to tailor my management style according to each individual and situation.

I definitely recommend the programme. Having time away from the office to think about my leadership style and openly sharing my questions and concerns with fellow participants and coaches was extremely valuable. In understanding the impact I have on people around me, I am now better equipped to build cooperative relationships both within my team and our wider organisation. I now have a more authentic picture of myself as a leader – a sound platform from which I can continue to grow and develop as my career progresses.