‘No’ is the first step towards a sale. Nicolas Haby, from the class of 2004, learned this slogan during his time at EMLV. It served as his guide as he forged his career step by step, from entrepreneurship to media via high-growth pure player. Today, as General Director of eNRJ and NRJ Global, he reflects on the years he spent at the Pole Leonard de Vinci and retraces his career in digital.
Nicolas graduated from the marketing track of the Grande Ecole programme at EMLV in 2004, and started his career in a mobile consulting agency. As a manager well versed in digital marketing and the media industry, Nicolas manages NRJ’s teams’ digital content production, assuming the role of both publisher and advertising agency. Here is his story.
Choosing EMLV to learn the art of the sale and of negotiation
Armed with a scientific baccalaureate, I dreamed of becoming a football agent. First, I spent a year studying law. But I was looking to join a business school with structured teaching. Having grown up in Courbevoie, I followed the founding of the Pole, attracted by its modern image and innovative facilities, and applied to EMLV. From the moment of the interview, I was won over. I remember discussing the quality of information, which provides the tools for understanding the world and managing projects.
Devinci Higher Education developed my capacity to adapt, my open-mindedness and my self-confidence. At that time, I needed constant challenging and reinforcement. I liked selling and negotiating, and in those years I realised I could make a career and be good at it. A maxim I learned at Devinci Higher Education which still resonates with me is that ‘no’ is the first step towards a sale. Indeed, turning the no into yes is much more challenging.
What I remember most of all is the mix of profiles and the solidarity between students that flowed from it. That makes you savvy – an important trait in our professions.
After EMLV, a career in digital
A summary of my career so far in 3 stages:
- I first created a small mobile consulting agency, with associates who provided technology. This first, entrepreneurial stage lasted a year and a half; it was far from simple and I learned a lot from it.
- I then joined Amaury Media, working on the France Football magazine. It was there that I switched from print to digital.
- But once in the digital landscape, I wanted to go further, so I joined Allociné (Webedia), a pure player. There I learned all about different tech jobs and developed my skills until I was recruited for an important role at NRJ.
NRJ is one of the largest private media groups in France. It has 4 radio stations (NRJ, Cherie FM, Nostalgie and Rire & Chansons), 2 national television channels (NRJ and Cherie 25) and 1 paid channel (NRJ Hits).
NRJ has also become the number 1 private company in digital radio in France, and this is precisely the area I manage. I’m responsible for all digital activities at NRJ – a 50-strong team on the editing side, and 10 people in the publishing department dedicated to monetising our activities.
We create digital content: articles, videos, web radio, podcasts and web posts, besides offering associated targeted advertising.
NRJ sought me out for my experience in digital acquired at Webedia (Allociné), Jeuxvideo.com, Purepeople), which works by decompartmentalising publishing and advertising and which allowed me to combine my commercial and editorial expertise.
Indeed, the worlds of Management and publishing have often clashed. In the digital age, however, the division is no longer relevant. The aim with content is to interest as many people as possible to create significant potential for monetization, thereby ensuring our profitability.
It is vital to remove the barriers between publishing and management. For optimum performance, all the teams must work together in harmony.
Bringing the digital revolution to life as general director of NRJ
Radio is undergoing its own digital revolution, and enabling it is an exciting challenge. Radio stations primarily play music. But going/embracing digital allows for the creation of many more types of content, becoming a real test lab. For example, we’re releasing a story podcast for children for CheriFM, thereby occupying a perfectly legitimate new niche thanks to the power of the medium and the backing of the brand.
I’m trying to be a new kind of managing director, tech-savvy and espousing meritocracy. I love sporting values and I see myself as a sort of coach helping his players to victory, helping them to perform at their best with a common objective. What is more, business development has been the central theme of my career; I like to build coherent media assets and effective systems of monetisation.
A piece of “leadership” advice: surround yourself with the best
My advice for EMLV students? Be as open as possible; believe in yourself; always try to innovate, even if it means breaking rules. Then it’s about knowing whom to surround yourself with. Insist on having champions in your team. Speaking of which advertising firm Ogilvy has an adage that I consider very important: “If you recruit people better than you, we’ll become a company of giants.”