Olivier Sieber : Nothing is impossible to an ESSEC

Olivier was our first connection in Vietnam. On the advice of Jeanne Bellec who is the communications manager of ESSEC in Singapore. Oliver is well-known in the area, a reputation based on many years of business experience in South-East Asia. He first questioned our visit and our matters but he quickly demonstrated himself to be an open and enthusiastic partner for our series of interviews. He is not unfamiliar with the subject. We met in the late afternoon at the Workshop Coffee to find out more about Olivier's career. Brace yourself.

Olivier Sieber : Nothing is impossible to an ESSEC

"L'aventure c'est l'aventure"

Olivier entered ESSEC in 1970. He narrowly escaped the relocation in Cergy and enjoyed for three years the Rue d'Assas campus. "There was not enough room, therefore the school rented apartments around Luxembourg for classes.", he told us. Three years of post 68 gypsy life in the Latin Quarter before he left to do his military service in Algeria in partner schools.

When he came back, he pursued a specialized training in audiovisual and signed his first contract with Antenne 2 in 1974. In 1976, he left to the Ivory Coast taking active part in the launch of continuing education legislation. He went on to launch radio programmes and trained for TV production. A few years later, in 1984 he started his own distribution company of audiovisual programs in Africa. He even produced a movie and videoclips in the Ivory Coast. The he worked on the distribution of African programmes in the rest of the world, in France but also in the United States.

Olivier is a stubborn player. "Apart from doing things that are normally impossible to do..." Finally he left Africa for new adventures on the other side of the Atlantic, in Miami.

Then he went to Singapore. He knew very little about Asia at that time and began to travel the region trying to integrate the audiovisual fields. Contacted by French people from Cambodia, he joined them to take over Apsara TV, the channel of the governing party. He became the deputy CEO in 2006. They distributed the Khmer Rouge Tribunal worldwide, a first and historic experience.

Alumni Interview Project Essec Olivier Sieber

In 2010, Olivier left Apsara and Cambodia and started again a tour in the region. He landed in Vietnam to manage a local channel in the midst of a crisis. He had to rethink, revamp and develop the channel thanks to first investments from Singapore. He purchased another channel, two magazines, the Vietnamese railway company channel... Vietnam is booming. Young people are a huge market, their influences and inspirations always newer. Programmes must be adapted. New issues arise with the development of digital: monetization, programmes schedules, the whole business is to be reshaped. After 30 years living extraordinary experiences Olivier is not afraid. But Vietnam is more and more challenging. As he said, Vietnam does not match the way it is seen by foreigners, it takes time to understand the country. With the development of ASEAN, other challenges are expected. Powerful countries such as China or Korea now increasingly eye Vietnam.

"L'Esprit pionnier"

Olivier advises ESSEC students and Alumni to come and initiate business in Vietnam. Constraints are limited and the market is huge: everything is cheap in this country, with 40 millions young people and booming middle classes. And as you can well imagine: to Olivier there is no greater profession. Among the Alumni of Saigon, he embodies a form of legendary adventurer whose duties have taken him all over the five continents. When we said goodbye to him we had the feeling we would see him again one day. But where we will meet again is another question.

The pioneering spirit

1970 : Enters ESSEC Grande Ecole
1973 : Military service in Algeria
1974 : Starts a company specialised in audiovisual training in Paris
1976 : Ivory Coast. Working between Abdijan and France.
1984 : Launches SICOMOR, production and distribution company of international programmes
2006 : Becomes General Manager of Apsara TV in Cambodia
2010 : TV Advisor in Vietnam for the IMC group

Alumni Interview Project Essec Olivier Sieber