An alumna with rich international experiences
I always knew that I wanted to live and work abroad.
Emma Latapy is a quadrilingual Business Development Executive, and a proud alumna of Sorbonne University. Now based in London, where she helps manage Sorbonne University’s London Alumni Club, she has spent 22 years living, working and/or studying abroad.
Her educational and professional background reflects her many passions, ranging from languages to economics, and has enabled her to travel the world—many times over!
Could you take us through your educational evolution? What did you study and where has it led you?
I completed my bachelor’s degree in LEA (foreign languages) at Sorbonne University, majoring in Spanish and Portuguese, with an English option. I loved my undergraduate degree. I felt so lucky to have teachers who were from Argentina, Colombia, Portugal, Brazil… It was quite intense, but great.
During my bachelor’s, I did a few internships in sales and business, and they revealed how interested I was in business development, understanding people and what they need, and finding solutions to interpersonal problems. So I decided to go into international business and pursued an international business and management Master’s degree, also at Sorbonne University.
You speak multiple languages. Where did this passion come from?
Well, despite being French, and born to French parents, I was 18 the first time I lived in France. Neither of my parents had ever lived anywhere else but France, but they decided to be brave, try something new, and live somewhere else. And so this is how I grew up.
I lived in Spain for the first seven years of my life, in several cities; next in Portugal for 8 years. Then we lived in Moscow for two and a half years, and then Beijing. I always stayed in the French school system, but I almost spoke Spanish before French, and studied Portuguese throughout high school. The nature of my upbringing instilled a passion for languages in me, as well as a big thirst for travel and an international education. I always knew that I wanted to live and work abroad.
You spent time studying abroad, right? What was this experience like?
In the third year of my bachelor’s, I did an Erasmus year in Lisbon, Portugal, at Católica. I had a great experience there, and I met many people who are still in my life today. I also did an internship abroad during my Master’s degree in Costa Rica, and upon graduating I participated in France’s VIE program, where young professionals are sent abroad for experience at which time I lived and worked in Sao Paolo, Brazil.
Well, today we’re in neither Brazil nor Portugal, but London. What led you to working here in Britain, and what do you do?
Love made me return to London. My partner has been based here for years, and it was time for me to make the move over.
Here in London, I work as a business development executive at Euromonitor International. It’s a global market data company, with fifteen offices in the world and therefore an inherently international team. Everyone in the office comes from everywhere. My job is to source the right clients for our business, introduce them to our product, and accompany them from step one through to sale—I’m sort of like a hunter—so most of my job is talking. Today I spoke Spanish, Portuguese, English and French while doing my job. I love it.
How has an international perspective enriched your career overall?
Having an international perspective is what I’ve known, always. And it’s helped me immensely.
The world is moving so fast; everything is global. You have to move with it and adapt to it. I speak four languages fluently, but that doesn’t seem that much anymore! And this is how we work together in this day and age—you have to be open to find out new things, be surprised…
Companies are looking for international profiles because that’s what they need. So my international experience has been an asset, but it’s also what I actively seek.
Could you provide some words of advice to students hesitating to study abroad or to forge international connections and careers?
You never know until you try it. Of course, it’s scary when you’re facing something new, but you get so much out of it. You could say, “My English is not good enough” to take on a certain experience, but it’s not going to get better if you stay at home! By studying abroad, you can learn in six months what you could have learned in ten years. Moreover, people will never judge you for trying; putting yourself out of your comfort zone is so worthy of respect. Just go for it.
What’s next for you?
Well, I’m getting married next year in Bordeaux—the city my family comes from but in which I’ve never lived! But it’s not because you go abroad that you lose your family, home will always be there.
I’ve only been in London for six months, so I’m building a new life here. And aside from that, I always just try to keep an open mind. Life is full of surprises.
* Le VIE (volontariat international à l’étranger) est un programme qui permet à de jeunes professionnels de partir à l'étranger pour acquérir de l'expérience.
Emma Latapy at her graduation from Sorbonne University, and in Brazil during one of her many international exchange experiences.