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Romain FRANCON, KEDGE graduate and CSR Director at Orange Wholesale

Romain FRANCON, KEDGE graduate and CSR Director at Orange WholesaleRomain FRANCON, KEDGE graduate and CSR Director at Orange Wholesale

My name is Romain Francon, and I'm currently Director of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) at Orange Wholesale - a division of Orange generating more than 7 billion euros in revenues by 2023 and employing more than 3,000 people in over 30 countries.

After graduating from KEDGE BS's Grande Ecole program in 2010, I began my career with Ernst Young Paris (EY), where I stayed for 8 years, developing my expertise in infrastructure (power & utilities, energy, telecoms, airports, etc.).

In 2017, I had been recruited by Orange where I was able to practice in turn as an expert in financial modeling of infrastructure projects (fiber, mobile deployment, submarine cables ...) and then in the strategy of the group's TowerCo, named TOTEM Towers.

✨ KEDGE, a pedagogy ahead of its time

When I joined KEDGE BS in 2006, the school had taken a rather original turn for the time around the concept of "responsible manager".

To be honest with you, this notion made me smile, because at the age of 20, I was much more attracted to financial mathematics and mergers/acquisitions than to "green " or "compliance".

Looking back, I can say that KEDGE BS was way ahead of its time, not only because it taught me the basics of corporate finance, but also because it offered me a differentiating position: building lasting professional relationships, developing win/win partnerships and developing a certain sensitivity to projects that made sense for my teammates and myself.

Beyond this anecdote, I remember KEDGE BS as a school that was an effective professional springboard: stimulating my natural curiosity about a wide range of disciplines, instilling in me a certain humility and empathy that facilitated my integration into the corporate world, and turning me resolutely towards collaborative work. I also really appreciated how KEDGE BS trained me to persuade: since persuading a customer to buy a pair of leather boots in the middle of summer, during my first internship in 2007, is as complicated as convincing an investor for a multi-million project.

On a personal level, KEDGE BS was also a decisive platform in my life, as it was there that I met my wife on the Bordeaux campus and many of the friends I still see every weekend.

🤝 Committed objectives

Having spent over 14 years working in the finance/strategy eco-system of CAC40 groups, surrounded by corporate lawyers, investment banks and other consulting firms, my professional development has been based on the perpetual search for financial value.

Between 2022 and 2024, as Head of Strategy at TOTEM Towers, I had the opportunity to build the CSR strategy of our newly created company. It was during this period that I realized that it was possible to create extra-financial value, and that all our company's stakeholders (investors, funds, banks, customers, etc.) had increasingly high expectations in terms of ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance criteria).

In short, that it was possible to be more virtuous while creating new business opportunities and attracting new partners. Orange also gave me a great deal of support along the way.

The roll-out of the CSRD (Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive) on a European scale in 2024 offers a magnificent opportunity for companies to differentiate themselves in terms of their raison d'être. It's a world in the making, given the climatic and societal challenges. From now on, I intend to put my skills and experience in value creation at the service of Orange's Lead the Future corporate project: decarbonizing telecoms while supporting the development of digital uses.

Everyone starts out in this discipline: it makes sense for the general interest, and that can only be a source of personal fulfillment for me.

🎓 Your advice to kedgers

  • The professional world: like a game with new rules that are constantly changing

Most of the assignments I've carried out or the jobs I've done didn't exist in 2010 when I graduated from KEDGE BS. In my opinion, this trend is set to accelerate as we see the arrival of AI, the explosion in the use of data and the digitization of processes at all levels...

Today's students need to be ready to develop their careers at any time according to their expertise and skills, in ever shorter cycles, while capitalizing on their acquired knowledge. This requires a good knowledge of themselves and a touch of opportunism.

  • Beyond the job description

Finally, I think the last subject that's close to my heart is transversality. Whenever I'm involved in a project, I follow the "principle of the cross", i.e. vertically I look at the operational constraints to better understand them with the managers, and horizontally I like to position myself in the costume of all the support functions to see how the technical constraints can be overcome. This modus operandi has often given me credibility with teams, and enables me to understand every blockage in every situation.

  • Fulfill your personal convictions by constantly adapting your efforts

I'm also firmly convinced that a taste for effort and strong personal convictions will make a student feel at ease in any professional situation.

Most of the managers I work with have impressed me with their deep-rooted commitment. This doesn't mean sacrificing one's personal life, but providing the right impetus at the right time. I try to draw inspiration from them.



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