HEC Paris MBA
Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Goal oriented, consistently growing by continuing to learn, committed to participating in African development.
Hometown: Thilogne, Senegal
Fun Fact About Yourself: When I was 7 years old, which, at the time, was the age to enter the French school in my country, my father initially had decided that I would not go to the French school but only to the Koranic school to become the wise man of the family. All the appropriate measures were taken and I was even introduced to my future Koranic teacher, who was located in another village 88 km from home.
By mere chance, one of my father’s friends convinced him to let me do both schools at the same time, the Koranic school and the French school. Things would have been different and I would not be here today accepted at the HEC Paris MBA program. I still remember when he congratulated me with great emotion after my graduation from the best engineering school in my country. He was happy he had considered and followed his friend’s advice.
I imagine what he would say today if he were here to see me graduate from one of the most prestigious business schools in the world.
Undergraduate School and Major:
- Centre des Hautes Etude de la Construction (France) – M.S. Higher Studies in Reinforced and Prestressed Concrete
- Ecole Polytechnique de Thiès (Senegal) – Design Engineer in civil engineering, Technology University Degree in civil engineering
Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:
Employer: SOGEA SATOM, Vinci Construction.
Job Titles: Cost Estimate Engineer, Project Engineer, Project Manager.
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My greatest success as part of my professional career deals with my achievement in the development of a hydro-agricultural area of 3,000 hectares in Chad. First, I was very proud to be involved in this type of project, which not only was structural for the country, but also a sustainable-development project.
The project was planned with gravity-fed irrigation. I initially diagnosed an overspending risk. I then initiated and led a team that worked on the redesign of the project by incorporating modern irrigation systems such as drip irrigation and spray irrigation with pivot. At the end of this optimization exercise, we had produced a project that would have reduced by 80% the risk of overspending and improve the company profit. Where the gravity-system efficiency was only 50 to 60%, our pivots and drip solution create 85 to 90% efficiency.
Unfortunately, after one year, we had to stop the project in 2015 because of a lack of funding, following the oil crisis that occurred. I hope the project will be completed, and the 115,000 people that the project aimed to impact will see their living conditions improve substantially.
Looking back on your experience, what advice would you give to future business school applicants? When we want to pursue an MBA, we usually tend to have our target business schools and try to match with what these schools are looking for. However, the opposite strategy can be very effective. First, you should have a clear career plan, consistent with your career path. Then you can see which schools actually stick with your project, which schools are able to bring you the most in reaching your goals. For this, try to get the maximum possible contact with schools. Go to the campus to perceive the value that the school gives to its program through the facilities that are made available to MBA students. Talk with alumni to have a clear idea of the opportunities offered by the school after the MBA. By doing so, schools often see very clearly what you can also bring to their program. In this process, not only you may fit the profile of your final-choice school, but you can also stand out.
Your essays should tell who you are. When someone reads them, he or she must see a coherent story. Take the time to write them with all the rigor it requires. Give your essays as much importance as you give to preparing the GMAT, GRE or TOEFL. Finally, if you are invited to an interview, it means that your story fits well with the school. Do not change much, be original in your presentation, be yourself.
What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? When I finished writing my professional project, two main needs stood out: the need to develop specific skills such as finance and strategy to support my career-change plan and the need to challenge and improve my leadership.
HEC Paris has a great reputation in terms of finance, and their MBA program really puts a great emphasis on career transformation and leadership. The structure and organization of the Career Management Centre, the clubs, and the MBAT just perfectly met my needs.
I also was looking for a program that allowed me to do an internship to facilitate my career change, without being very long. 16 months proved to be ideal.
Tell us about your dream job or dream employer at this point in your life? My main goal is to participate in the development of Africa. Infrastructure plays a key role in economic growth and poverty reduction. I think the great deficit of infrastructure is one of the main factors that is slowing down Africa’s development. I no longer want to be only in the implementation phase. I want to assist decision-makers in defining their infrastructure-development strategies.
I hope at the end of this MBA to be working in institutions involved in infrastructure investment in Africa. This could be government institutions in Africa, the African Development Bank Group, the World Bank Group, or private funds that accompany African governments in developing their infrastructure.
What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program? Talking about the MBA recruitment trends, 2015 to 2020, the HEC Paris Career Management Centre predicts that Africa will be one of the main engines for growth and employment opportunities. At the same time, when you look at the statistics about HEC MBA placement, you don’t find more than 1% in Africa.
I really want to share with my friends my seven years of experience in Africa. I would like to show them the great challenges and opportunities offered by Africa today. I do not know if it will improve the statistics, but I hope they will remember me after graduation as someone who showed them another image of business in Africa; indeed, another image of Africa in general.