Student testimony

Interview of Olivier Harnisch, DBA student

Can you introduce yourself and share with us your academic and professional background?

My name is Olivier Harnisch, I am a french and german national, living in Dubai. My academic background is unusual, as I dropped out of high school at the age of 16. In 1986, when I was 19, I started to work as a waiter in the south of France. I then decided in my late 20’s to pursue academic studies and completed a hospitality management degree at the Berlin School of Hotel Administration.

Then, I continued with an MBA at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and a Master of Science in Organizational Behavior at the University of London. I had a successful career in hospitality, lived in 14 different countries on 4 continents and worked myself up to CEO of several hotel companies. My last role was founding CEO of the Hotel Management Company at the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh. I am now a Board Member and Consultant in different companies in the Middle East.

Why did you choose the DBA Program of ISC Paris Business School ?

I have been interested in a Doctorate for some time, but was hesitating to embark on such an intense endeavor while I was in full time roles. After leaving corporate life, I felt that this was the right time. I did extensive research on the right academic institution. To me it was important that the school be fully accredited, that it has a good reputation, and that the program is flexible enough to fit with my lifestyle. ISC Paris ticked all boxes. After a couple of interviews with School Officials, I was convinced that ISC Paris was the right choice for me.

Can you tell us about your experience as a student at ISC Paris Business School ?

My experience so far has been excellent. The lectures are very interesting, my co-students are from various parts of the world and the professors are highly engaged and easily accessible. I just came back from Paris after the first in person seminar, which was a great experience also.

Can you tell us what you have learned during your first semester?

We had two 3-hour lectures per month in the first semester, coupled with a lot of reading. It was a useful overview of current academic topics in management science. The first year is really to help students develop their research subject. The next two years are then all about reading, research and writing the dissertation. I look forward to digging deep into my chosen topic, which will be related to hospitality. 

Why would you recommend the ISC Paris DBA program to future students?

Yes absolutely, in fact I have already done so. ISC Paris provides the right mix between academic rigor, pragmatism and closeness to its students. I look forward to the remaining 2+ years and to submitting my research proposal soon.

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