2017 Best MBAs: Vineet Kumar, HEC Paris

Vineet Kumar

HEC Paris

 “Imaginative individual who values interpersonal relationships. Confident, action-oriented and remains calm in difficult situations.”

 Age: 32

 Hometown: Asansol, India

 Fun fact about yourself: In the last nine years, I have visited 13 countries and worked directly (as student and employee) with people from more than 35 countries.

 Undergraduate School and Degree:

  1. Master of Science in Mobile Communication (France)
  2. Bachelor of Technology in Electronics and Communication Engineering (India)

 Where did you work before enrolling in business school?

  1. Company: Amadeus (France), Role: Software Development Engineer
  2. Company: Hitachi (France), Role: Development Engineer

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016?

After my MBA, I started working as a Senior Program Manager for Amazon’s European Transportation operations in Luxembourg.

In 2016 I interned at the following:

  1. Amazon, Luxembourg

Role: Pathways MBA Intern (Senior Program Manager) – Amazon’s leadership development program, where I led procurement process improvement initiatives at European level in Amazon’s EU Transportation division to identify cost saving opportunities in multi-million Euro contracts.

2. Neotion, France

Role: As an assistant marketing manager, I positioned Neotion’s latest Smart Home offering (Neohome) by performing market analysis, competition analysis & benchmarking for connected objects/internet of things (IoT) and home automation markets in Europe, Africa and Asia.

Where will you be working after graduation? Senior Program Manager (Transportation Europe), Amazon, Luxembourg

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  1. HEC Paris MBA Leadership Award 2016

    – Elected by the MBA cohort of 220+ students as a recognition for the leadership skills    demonstrated during the MBA program

  2. Vice President, MBAT (MBA Tournament) 2016

    – Led a 30-member MBAT core team to organize a 3-day inter-school sports event that hosts 1500 students from top European B-School every year.

  3. Director, HEC Paris MBA Technology Club

    – Led a 28-member team of HEC Paris MBA participants on 3-day trek to Dublin to visit various technology companies.

  4. HEC Paris MBA Ambassador

    – Guide candidates who intend to apply to HEC Paris MBA program.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I’m most proud of being awarded the HEC Paris MBA leadership award for 2016. The whole MBA class (220+ students) voted and selected 10 students for this award. I came to a business school to develop my leadership skills and there couldn’t have been a better recognition.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I’m most proud of my accomplishments as the leader of the quality improvement stream for my 50-member department at my previous employer, Amadeus. After gaining significant experience in software engineering, I wanted to improve my people management skills and hence took up this role. It was a cross-functional role, which required me to coordinate quality improvement initiatives with the unit manager of each of the five software development teams in my department.

Early into the role, I realized that behavioral change towards quality could not be mandated but had to be inculcated. Every team had their own unique challenges and interpretation of accepted quality. Involving team members, I tried to standardize quality metrics across teams and tried to drill in aspects of overall quality management. I brought several fundamental changes to the stream such as quantified quality by defining KPIs, adopted an agile development model to implement quality changes, created liaisons with other departments to share good practices etc. In a short span of six months, we improved our code coverage ratio by 20 percent (Testing Effectiveness) and delivered quality by 30 percent. Gradually, I managed to establish a strong quality infrastructure in my department for which I was appreciated and was given an opportunity to present my stream’s achievements in the annual departmental meeting.

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? My favorite MBA course was Organizational Behavior. I liked the topic about cognitive biases the most. The course taught how to identify biases in a business context and how to make a bias-free decision. I believe that ‘Indecision and delays are parents of failure (George Canning)’ and a biased decision worsens the situation.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose HEC Paris MBA because: (1) Diversity: The HEC Paris MBA class is made of 50+ nationalities. I have worked in internationally diverse environment throughout my career and I very well understand how diversity can augment the learning experience; (2) Leadership-Focused: HEC Paris MBA has a keen focus on leadership development. It has several ‘learning by doing’ leadership development activities such as MBAT (MBA Tournament) organization and St. Cyr (French Military Camp) Seminar. The HEC Paris MBA consistently ranks high in the number of alumni who are CEOs of the fortune 500 companies; and (3) High ROI: HEC Paris MBA consistently tops the list of schools with the highest ROI.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? I enjoyed the classes the most. Classes were interactive and engaging. Most courses were case based where the whole class was trying to solve a common problem. High level of class participation was expected. This taught me to look at a problem through multiple perspectives.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? The most surprising thing was the high focus on discipline and punctuality during the course. Before I joined the MBA, I was expecting a less controlled environment for a cohort with an average age of around 30 years. However, in reality the class sessions expected 100 percent attendance and strict punctuality (even for 8 a.m. classes). This initially surprised me but today, as full-time employee, I realize how critical those principles of discipline and punctuality were.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Myth: You cannot get a job if you don’t speak French.

I believe more than knowing French, the problem lies in how you approach a job search. French is definitely a plus for getting a job in France but there are several companies that work in English. MBA is a less known degree in France than it is in the USA or India. You should not shy away from doing a short internship, so you can demonstrate the value you can bring in post-MBA.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I didn’t go on a student exchange. Through out my MBA I was either in Paris or within Europe (for my internships), if I could have traveled to USA or Asia on a student exchange that would have added an extra dimension to my learning.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I admired Sunil Kumar (my classmate) a lot during my MBA. I started knowing Sunil more during my final term. We both opted for Marketing as specialization. Even though Sunil had extensive pre-MBA experience in marketing, he was always enthusiastic about learning in the classes. He was an active contributor, by either asking the right questions or sharing his work experience. In addition, Sunil was always available to guide people trying to make a transition into marketing as a career.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…in my career I felt that there is a gap between the skills needed to do what I want to do (manage people and large scale businesses) and what my skills were back then.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…doing certifications (such PMP, Six Sigma etc.) to accumulate the technical skills needed to manage projects and business.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I would have made it mandatory to do a mid-course internship. I believe getting the right job after an MBA is more because of enhanced soft skills rather than the background experience or technical skills. The best ‘learning by doing’ opportunity a business school can provide its candidates is by having mandatory internships. This will allow participants to practice their CV writing, job pitch, salary negotiation skills etc. before the final job interviews at the end of the course.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal?  In the future, I see myself leading (as a CEO/General Manager) a multinational organization.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I would like to thank my wife, Shanu. We have known each other for 14 years now. She has been both a rudder and anchor in my life. She motivated me to pursue my goals and targets and at the same time supporting me in failures. My decision to quit my permanent job in the mesmerizing South of France to pursue an MBA always had its risks. My wife kept reminding me of my passion and strengths and made this leap possible.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Problem solver, trust worthy, high sense of ownership, decisive and is never afraid to lead.

Favorite book: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Favorite movie or television show: Movie: Schindler’s List

Favorite musical performer: A.R.Rahman

Favorite vacation spot: Villages in the Provence region in south of France

Hobbies? Watching movies, going on long drives, exploring new restaurants

What made Vineet such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“Vineet’s contribution to the class dynamics was exceptional. He joined us in January 2016 and immediately made an impact. He identified the tech sector as a crucial one for the School and the Program and set about organizing a trek to one of the hubs of the industry – Dublin. The industry has been responsible for hiring around 20 percent of HEC Paris MBA graduates in the past four years, a trend which is expected to continue in 2017. The three-day trek included visits to Google, IBM, LinkedIn, Groupon, plus the two leading start-up support ecosystems, and was adjudged a complete success by the 30+ attendees.

Vineet then took over the leadership of the Technology Club, and during his tenure he organized a speaker series and further corporate visits, in addition to helping prepare candidates for the Fall on-campus recruiting season. From a personal perspective, Vineet landed a summer associate role with Amazon, which resulted in him receiving, and accepting, a full-time offer with the company.”

Tony Somers

Director – Career Management, Corporate Partnerships & Careers