Nicolas Bally: from engineer to executive
Nicolas Bally is a true global citizen. He has worked around the world, and was named Vice President of the Asia-Pacific Region for the SBU Turbomachinery of MAN Diesel & Turbo in January 2016. Let’s chart the course of this engineer, executive and alumnus of the EMBA (Master of Business Administration) program at HEC Paris.
Thriving on variety
Born to Swiss-French and Swiss-German parents and raised in Spain, Nicolas had already discovered an affinity for different cultures when he began working for MAN Diesel & Turbo, the world market leader for large diesel engines used in ships and power stations. Initially an engineer and later a project leader in sales and aftersales, he worked with many different departments and employees from highly diversified backgrounds. This first taste of management opened his eyes to the possibilities offered by leadership roles. Before long, Nicolas began looking for an English-speaking Executive MBA in continental Europe that would enhance his global outlook.
“More than an engineer”
For Nicolas, his EMBA and recent promotion show that the company is investing in his future. As per company policy for those aiming to progress through management levels, Nicolas followed an HR stream and is now in a good position to continue his upward ascent. He believes both he and the company have gained a greater sense of security from the program at HEC Paris: “I’ve grown in confidence, both personally and in work. Learning about the financial and HR sides of things equipped me for my new position of trust.”
Today, Nicolas leads a group of more than 600 employees, of which over 200 are in sales and aftersales, with the rest spread out across two factories in India and China. He spends almost half his time engaging with personnel, a facet of his job he truly enjoys. “I relish the more people-oriented side of my role and the daily interactions I have with the staff.”
His newfound skills in HR complement his role in leadership, as he says he must “get the right people in the right position and give them what they need to succeed."
I could have remained ‘just an engineer,’ but now I have become so much more.” Nicolas Bally
From his EMBA experience, Nicolas recalls more than new skills and a global contact list. “It was a back-to-school moment in the best sense, full of discovery,” he says. “I’ve studied in Doha, Sao Paolo, Beijing and Paris, and I have friends all over the world: China, South Africa, New Zealand, Brazil and Portugal. And I met people in fashion and hospitality, sectors I knew nothing about.”
The enriching experience helped Nicolas adapt to the culture shock of relocation to China, where his growing list of contacts are a useful resource. “My Beijing friends have been very helpful,” he says. “I’ll often ask them questions about the business culture, as well as just for advice on day-to-day life.”
Never too serious
Nicolas reflects that the HEC Paris motto—“The more you know, the more you dare” - has certainly proved true for him. When asked if he has adopted it as his personal motto, he offers a complementary one: “Never take yourself too seriously! You also have to leave room for self-reflection in everything you do. Otherwise it gets boring!"