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10 September 2020
Portraits

Jean-Sébastien GUICHAOUA (TBS 2003) - Director of Retromobile

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BDS Graduate in 2001, leader of SirozSport, and passionate about cars, today Jean-Sebastien is Director of the Retromobile Event in Paris: A skillfully driven career  

Why did you chose TBS for your studies?

The good atmosphere that I felt during admissions, the reputation of the School with employers (which has never been disputed since it was founded), the fact that my father, mother, and grandfather studied in Toulouse, even though we all from Brittany… these were all signs!

Can you tell us about your time as a student at TBS? 

When I started at the School, I didn’t really have any idea of what I wanted to do. However, through the different people I met, mainly with regard to the School's associations (the Student Board), internships and my gap year in New York, I left the School with more self-confidence and with some experience and ready to take on a professional career.

Have you any stories about your year to share with us? Were you part of a student association at TBS?

I have a great memory of the time we won the election of the Bureau des Sports in 2001. At the time, we were having difficulty raising funds but nevertheless we managed to organise a good number of events for students: a day at Sesquières and a party at the Arthur Club, a nightclub near the School which has since disappeared. I remember that some of us did what was needed to meet the campaign budget. Who remembers SirozSport? Maybe not many, but the atmosphere there was fantastic! Even now, I am great friends with many former members of different associations.

What were your main objectives when you started work after your degree ? What were your motivations?

My aim was to work into the automotive sector. My main internships were with manufacturers and I found that the field touches on everything: sales, marketing, finance, logistics, etc.

What’s more, I’ve always been attracted to cars so I might as well work in a sector I liked.

What are you currently doing?

I’m the Director of the Retromobile Event in Paris, one of the largest trade fairs in the world for classic cars.

Why did you choose this area of activity ?

My professional career has always been related to manufacturers, car auctions and trade shows. My predecessor, whom I replaced in 2018, remained at the helm of the Retromobile event for 40 years. My job today is to create dreams for 135,000 annual visitors. What's fantastic is that I can combine my love of cars and contemporary history, while meeting incredible people. I hear beautiful stories every day! Additionally, there are the managerial and financial dimensions. The stakes are high and I have to remind myself every year to ensure that the event lives up to its reputation.

At what moment did you know that this was the career for you?

I knew when I went to work for the Comexposium group, which is one of the world’s leading event organisers.

I immediately liked the atmosphere and I quickly knew that this was where I wanted to continue my career. The ability to combine automobiles and events planning was a great opportunity that I couldn’t let slip!

What are you doing today and how did you get to this point in your professional career? 

I started at Décathlon as a manager. It was a super field experience and included management and real responsibilities. Then I held different commercial and marketing positions in the automobile sector and I have stayed in the sector ever since - Citroën in Cologne, Germany, Mercedes Benz France, and British Car Auctions.

Today I’m with Comexposium, which organises forums around the entire world. I started as a business director for two BtoB international forums, Equip Auto and Solutrans, in the automotive aftersales and mobility sector, before I took the helm of Retromobile.

How did your studies help you reach your personal and/or professional achievements?

On a personal level, I had a second family with my involvement in the student associations. That’s where you not only develop self-confidence, solidarity, sharing and working in a team, but you also get a sense of celebration!

On a professional level, I did internships and met people who helped me chart my path to be the person I am today: someone who is professionally fulfilled and happy with everyday life.

Where do you see yourself in ten years time?

Maybe still at the head of Retromobile. I still have so many things to learn! Plus, we plan to develop a project in the USA in the next few years and maybe one in Asia as well. 

How did the Alumni network support you?

I have always been supported by the Alumni network. I have had periods of downtime between jobs but I’ve always been able to bounce back in a positive way because of the network. I think that there’s real solidarity between the School's alumni.

How would you recommend using it?

The network is essential whether you’re a student or a graduate. Feel free to use it. Sometimes I’m asked for advice and I always take the time to answer. 

What advice would you give to TBS students and/or Alumni, who are looking to follow your career path?

For students, enjoy your school years because they are too short. You’ll meet people who will leave their mark on you both personally and professionally. Other than taking the courses which are important because they help you develop your knowledge, don’t hesitate to increase your experiences through the School’s associations and with internships. These will also determine, in part, your future career.

Are you willing for students and Alumni to contact you directly ?

No problem. They can feel free to contact me. My personal email is:

js.guichaoua@gmail.com



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