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Participants of the Chargeurs Game Changer Program

Impact Story: Chargeurs


Joëlle Fabre-Hoffmeister, Secretary General of Chargeurs talks about the Game Changer Management program.


"For us, executive education is not a luxury but a necessity to develop and empower our people so that each of them can contribute to our game-changer strategy. We are pleased to have found ESMT as a partner to help us bring our people to the next level."

Joëlle Fabre-Hoffmeister, Group General Secretary and Chief Compliance Officer, Chargeurs

The Client

A hidden champion from France

At ESMT Berlin, we love working with “hidden champions” – the mid-sized companies that few people have heard of but operate as global leaders in specialized markets. We value working with such clients because they take executive education seriously and want to see clear returns on their investments. One such client is Chargeurs, headquartered in Paris. It is on an incredible growth trajectory as it strives to become a game changer in its target markets.


The Challenge

Becoming a game changer

Chargeurs is active in four different businesses, including industrial surface protection, museum solutions, interlinings, and ecological wool for fashion brands.

Michael Freibourg, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Chargeurs



“Our value proposition is not the technical product but the solution. We want to disrupt our markets with smart ideas that we can implement in small, simple, but steady steps – ideas that we constantly improve upon based on customer feedback.”

Michaël Fribourg, Chairman and CEO, Chargeurs

Chargeurs' leadership board set the goal to support the implementation of the game-changer plan via two main streams:

icon mindset


Boosting new thinking and an agile approach in a company that had a rather traditional engineering attitude.

icon toolset


Equipping their employees with practical tools and providing on-the-job support to apply learning outcomes in real-world scenarios.


The Commitment

ESMT as the strategic partner

Chargeurs chose ESMT to help execute the game-changer plan because of its proximity to business (as a business school founded by business) and its profound understanding of successful hidden champions.

The goal of the collaboration was two-fold:

  • To explore how Chargeurs could become a game changer: The company needed to shift from a product focus to a customer focus, from large upfront investments to simple but effective experiments, and from lengthy planning to fast, iterative development.
  • To facilitate the practical application of the new tools and methods among employees of Chargeurs. Only through direct application would they be able to adopt new thinking and acting to successfully drive innovation in their businesses.


The Learning Design

The Game Changer Program as an incubator where participants do innovation in real time

Our motto for the program is: “We don’t just want to talk about being a game changer, but to be a game changer.”

The solution is to combine learning about innovation with developing and refining business ideas while conducting experiments in the market to validate and apply them. To make this happen, the customized program engages a team of ESMT professors, innovation coaches and others who have worked as corporate entrepreneurs in hidden champions.

The program, which is modeled on the successful strategic partnership between ESMT and Chargeurs, revolves around creating and validating game-changer ideas in three modules:

  • Module 1: Generate new value for customers using disruptive business models. Participants learn that innovation is not about executing business plans but a process of exploration. They come out of the module with game-changer ideas as well as plans to conduct experiments to validate their ideas.
  • Module 2: Gain practical experience as innovators. During the second module, which takes place on the job, participants conduct those experiments, learn from the market, and adapt their ideas while using the innovation coaches as corrective sparring partners.
  • Module 3: Present your business case. The third module enables the participants to refine their business models and identify the key financial levers that will make or break profits. They then present their ideas to the Executive Committee, led by Mr. Fribourg, who decides whether and how to follow up on the ideas.
Chargeurs Learning Design
Chargeurs Learning Design
Learning Design

The program serves as incubator to develop and test new ideas contributing to Chargeur's strategic Game Changer Plan...

Learning Design

...This way it enables participants to apply a new mindset with practical tools and methodologies - the learning goes into the muscle


  • Participants in ESMT’s Game Changer Program learn how companies generate new value for their customers using disruptive business models while gaining a deeper understanding of the Chargeurs’ game-changer plan.
  • They develop and elaborate ideas that create opportunities for innovative approaches, services, and business models, which is exactly what top leadership is looking for.
  • As they work on validating these ideas and conducting business experiments, they learn that innovation requires different mindsets. 
  • Participants experience firsthand what it takes to become a game changer. They become more inspiring and enabling leaders for their teams in terms of agility, innovation, and implementation.

Bülent Gögdün

Director, Executive Programs, ESMT Berlin

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