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12 August 2019

Our Incredible Life Paths: James DE ROQUETTE-BUISSON (TBS 2014)

Who were you at school?

Why did you choose Toulouse?

I had just graduated with a Bac S in maths (with a failing merit), but I did not know what I wanted to do. The only thing I did know was that I no longer wanted to hear about imaginary numbers, nuclear or fuel cells, and other physical-mathematical oddities. So, I spoke to a friend of the family to discuss his background, and to get advice to clarify my vision of the future. He helped me understand that a business school is one of the least restrictive options for someone undecided about his future.

I applied to only one business school, "Toulouse Business School", some economics prep classes overseas, and the Sorbonne. The only institution that responded positively to my candidacy was Toulouse; it is also the only one who gave me an interview.

The vagabond spirit that inhabits me made me hitchhike from Castres, where I was an intern at Notre Dame, to sit the oral which went very well, as did the written exam some time later. As TBS was the only university that accepted me, I "chose" Toulouse.

 

Would you tell us about your time at TBS? (studies)

I did the three-year Bachelor's degree programme in international management at Entiore from 2011 to 2014 - six months in French, two and a half years in English, with a one-year detour to Groningen in the north of the Netherlands during second year. Everything was redirected when I did six months at TBSeeds’ incubator for my business start-up project.  

I was like a fish in water during those three years; after a difficult Bac S, the academic struggles were over. This allowed me to enjoy my classes and be interested in each subject without having to worry too much.

Laurence Bundy, Philippe Brunner, John King, Geneviève Cazes-Vallette, Phill Mackormac, Servane Delanoe-Gueguen, and Olivier Igon are some of the teachers who marked my journey. They taught me lots: how to avoid paying taxes via a network of companies domiciled in various countries, that 60% of us can kill a stranger under pressure from an authority (Milgram test), and that we must at least make contact with a potential consumer twenty times so that they will remember. They asked me the questions that hurt, and taught me lots of jargon: BtoB, SWOT, 7P, 5P, BtoC... .  I give them my thanks!

 

Do you have stories from your graduating class to share? (Student associations ...)

Other than the academic side, it was a wonderful school of life. I made forever friends with whom I very, very, very often celebrated our studies in common. From the first WEI in 2011 to our graduation in early 2015, we all had a common passion that forced us to take on a good number of mornings "ingesting" the lessons of our teachers. Sometimes this passion forced us to come to class without having closed our eyes and pretending to have passing fatigue. A good part of our graduating class did a double diploma by regularly taking evening classes during the three years.

I was more particularly affected by my Erasmus year in Groningen. It was a year out of time, and was one of the most beautiful and inspiring times of my life. One year alone, without the parental training wheel, in a residence with 340 students from around the world, forges a man. It opened my eyes to an international culture that is too often placed second in France. I understood that France is only wonderful country among many others. That French culture is nothing but superior to the rest of the world. It is simply different.

    

Who are you now? 

What is your current situation?

Since I left school, I’ve joined the family business, Baron de Roquette-Buisson, to take the over reins and continue the story that my father started in 1989. I’ve returned to my native St. Félix Lauragais where I am happy to have two fields between each neighbour – not much different than the time when my neighbour two floors below came complimenting us on our nocturnal activities.

Between two batches of foie gras and cassoulet, I travel France in search of delicatessens and other grocery shops to restore the family image and continue to defend the culinary values of our elders. I also bring this commitment to the Alumni with the creation of the Gastronomy student association (in 2015), which aims to unite the gastronomic actors to highlight them with our network of TBS.

 

Why did you choose this profession, this project?

When my father passed away in 2008, my mother put aside her artistic career to take over the cannery and stay stayed on over the time it took for my brother and I to finish our studies.

I had not initially planned to return to the family business. Up to the very last, I had wanted to be a sound engineer so I could attend all the concerts I wanted to. When I was in the Netherlands, I became aware of the importance of eating well and the influence of French cuisine.  Getting accepted to the incubator in third year confirmed my desire to carry the family torch.

This project of recovery, fully corresponds to my values and lets me have a psychological and philosophical independence, which I wouldn’t have had working in the hierarchical structure of a company. The hours I spend not counting are worth it! Just thinking about working for a major gives me Goosebumps! It makes me think of Fountaine’s fable "The Wolf and The Dog"; having a full bowl every night is not worth the price of freedom.

 

What did your studies bring you in your personal and / or professional achievements?

My studies mainly brought me clarity and vision. I could see all the tools used by the major companies to maximise their financial scores, and the marketing-business techniques put in place to skew our discernment as an informed consumer. I liked the fact that it was presented to us from a neutral angle, without proselytise on one side or the other.

I met a multitude of people who helped me grow, who helped forged my discernment, my patience, my will, and my daring. I wouldn’t be the person I am today had I not taken out a student loan and spent three unforgettable years in the company of interesting and experienced people.

 

What advice would you give to TBS alumni, whether students or graduates?

My first advice for students is to fully live their time as a student: meet people, listen to what your teachers teach, and to make the best use of this investment - which is a stepping stone to your future life. These times pass very fast and determine a big chunk of your future. Pass your exams, but don’t forget to take "evening classes" so you can make solid partnerships and lifelong friends.

For Alumni graduates, my advice is to come and be part of association, which is one of the most excellent added-values of our diploma. Come meet caring people, listen to what is always good advice, join the Gastronomy student associate (for example) to discover and promote the flavours that never leave our taste buds. A wiseman once said: "Just because we’ve graduated doesn’t mean that school is over".

I thank everyone who had the guts to read this to the end.

Deliciously yours,

 

James DE ROQUETTE-BUISSON

 


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