Vice-Chairman of EssilorLuxottica, a global leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of ophthalmic lenses, frames and sunglasses
Across various executive roles, Hubert has been a driving force behind Essilor’s transformation, focusing on a single mission: to improve lives by improving sight
In October 2018, Essilor merged with Luxottica (a world leader in eyewear) to create EssilorLuxottica. This was a defining moment in Essilor’s history, creating a much stronger voice for vision everywhere in the world
Hi Hubert! A warm welcome to our Visiting Leader Executive Coaching programme. What can our MBA students expect when they sign up for a one-on-one coaching session with you? And, how can students prepare to make the most of this opportunity?
Hubert Sagnières: MBA students can expect a very open and direct discussion on any topics they have in mind. I’m giving them a portion of my time, so they can use it in whichever way is most valuable to them. I’m not here to judge, or to evaluate, but to listen and provide my perspective. Of course, if students Google me and dig into my career path, they’re likely to get much more out of the meeting as we can explore synergies between our career experiences.
You have made it your mission to eliminate poor vision across the world by 2050. Can you tell us the backstory behind this?
HS: Poor vision is one of the world’s biggest handicaps. Solutions exist, but previously no one was acting in an efficient way to deal with the magnitude of the problem. Over three billion people around the world are currently suffering from vision problems – which frankly is unacceptable in the 21st century. This is typically due to affordability, a lack of awareness or a lack of accessibility to eye care professionals. That’s why at EssilorLuxottica we’ve created an open model to gather all resources and try to solve this problem in one generation. We’re on our way but still have a lot of work to do!
You’re a long-time friend of CEIBS and also serve on our International Advisory Board. You previously commented in TheCEIBSLink magazine in 2018 about your desire to see the school take on a leading role in designing curriculums around leading with a purpose. What progress has the school made in this direction?
HS: I take heart in the fact that this concept of leading with a purpose is now a much higher priority for schools. Especially given the impact that MBAs and the community can have on achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I know, for example, that social impact is a top priority for CEIBS MBA Director Professor Shameen Prashantham. I’m also happy to see the continuation of deep-rooted aspects of the MBA curriculum, such as the overseas elective in Malaysia on Leadership for Social Responsibility. What is important is that real progress is made, and continues to be made.
We’re seeing an increasing number of MBA candidates attracted to pursuing purpose-led careers. What should these students focus on to successfully pivot their careers in this direction during their studies?
HS: When we’re talking about purpose-led careers and purpose-led companies, these are the guys that are putting their mission above their strategy. We’re not talking about CSR and ticking a box for PR purposes, but instead what is really necessary to make a positive impact in the world. During their MBA, I’d encourage students to dig out case studies of companies that embody this. Also, build a network with people who really resonate with this message. Through them, you can learn a lot about defining your purpose, articulating it powerfully and designing a strategy that can contribute towards achieving the SDGs.
What piece of advice would you give now to your younger self when you were an MBA student studying at business school?
HS: I’d tell myself to work on all of the important things that I know I won’t have time to do later in my career. A full-time MBA programme is a wonderful opportunity to fill in these gaps. I’d also encourage students to use this time to learn more about themselves, their strengths, their weaknesses, and also their grasp of time management. If I had my time at business school again, I’d focus more energy on honing my people skills and soft power. Organisational behaviour is going to be one of the most important takeaways from the programme as you develop your career over the coming decades.
At CEIBS, as you know, we pride ourselves on educating responsible leaders versed in ‘China Depth, Global Breadth’. As someone who leads a very global career, what are the most important qualities you see in global business leaders who can successfully bridge and navigate diverse cultures?
HS: The world needs leaders who understand the world. The best way to look at any event or challenge is from the perspective of various cultures. Personally, I have spent time embracing three continents – Asia, Europe and North America – over the past 20 years. Only when you commit to understanding these cultures, putting down roots there and approaching their challenges with an open mind, can you really develop a mind-set to approach problems from a different cultural perspective.
“Given my background in France and experience working in HR for a French multi-national in China, I was excited to connect with Mr. Sagnières as part of the Visiting Leader Executive Coaching Programme. We had one hour together, during which he went through my resume and gave me some practical guidance on future career orientation. He actually suggested I try something new, to explore beyond HR, which I wasn’t expecting. I got the impression he was very invested in helping others grow, so given the career path he has had to Vice President of EssilorLuxottica, I have valued his insights a lot.”
– Yanni Sun, CEIBS MBA 2022