Meet The HEC Paris MBA Class Of 2020

HEC Paris has plans to increase its incoming student cohort of MBAs

NEW SPECIALIZATIONS COVER DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION AND SUSTAINABILITY

“Participants learn to be “innovation enablers” capable of applying the concepts of digital innovation in a variety of business situations,” he explains. “Along with its electives, the specialization is divided into two main parts: one focused on managing digital innovation, and the other on managing transformation within an actual bricks-and-mortar company. Each part has a hands-on project associated with it. In the first one, participants tackle a real problem faced by a real company and have to deliver a business plan for a new digital activity or strategy. During the second part, students test their consulting skills by analyzing and making recommendations on an actual digital-business case.

In fact, HEC Paris has been living digital transformation, adds Masini. Over the past year, the school has been digitizing all of its academic material and teaching tools. In the process, HCE Paris has created a portfolio of online classes. These courses, which are part of the school’s online Master’s in Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OMIE), can also be applied in a blended learning environment.

Digital Innovation isn’t the only specialization being introduced this year. With social and environmental issues increasingly becoming c-suite concerns, HEC Paris has responded to market demand with a Sustainability, Leadership and Disruption specialization. “It teaches participants cutting-edge strategies for initiating and managing sustainable business practices worldwide,” Masini explains. “Students develop their own “change-making” leadership style and learn to forge a unique career path as an impact entre- or intrapreneur. The specialization opens a wide range of opportunities in fields such as consulting and impact investing, as well as in more traditional fields and high-impact industries such as energy and cleantech.”

A MOVE TO STATION F

The biggest news, however, was the relocation of the HEC Paris Incubator to Station F, which Masini describes as the world’s largest startup campus. Covering 34,000 square feet of space in a former railway station in central Paris, Station F boasts 1,000 startups. It also features resources like 3D printers and support staff in areas ranging from legal to information technology. In fact, the staff can set up a new member’s desk and internet in just five minutes! Station F isn’t just for fledgling firms either, with Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook maintaining their own incubators there.

Andrea Masini. File photo

“Station F gives our students unprecedented access to top international players in the entrepreneurship ecosystem,” says Masini. “The business school’s 73 startups settled into a 700m² open-space and will now benefit from the strength of the HEC Paris network to accelerate the development of their new businesses.”

It isn’t just the school’s entrepreneurs who benefit from this space, says Antoine Lepretre, who runs HEC’s incubator at Station F in a 2019 interview with P&Q. “The mission for us is to increase the number of entrepreneurs,” Lepretre says. “If they fail to do entrepreneurship they have a really good profile for corporates to become intrapreneurs. Businesses are looking for young graduates who can change organizations from the inside.” Being in the incubator — or accelerator, if you prefer — helps them develop faster because they grow their networks and contacts, develop their style of management, and generally develop more quickly.”

16 MONTH MBA IS JUST THE RIGHT LENGTH

HEC Paris’ expansion isn’t just restricted to Station F, Masini adds. “More recently, we have continued our International expansion by opening up a new HEC office in the Ivory Coast, allowing us to serve the West African market more efficiently and develop several international partnerships.”

Why did the Class of 2020 choose HEC Paris? There wasn’t just one selling point. Certainly, the 16-month duration doesn’t hurt – a timeframe that provides enough time to network without the crushing workload and frenzied pace of a 12-month program. This balance was a big plus for Anubhav Mital.

“The key motivation for me to select MBA at HEC Paris was the well-structured and still customizable curriculum,” he writes. “With 16-month course properly divided in 8 months of fundamental phase giving a strong foundation to the students, later 8 months will be completely customizable with a wide variety of electives and specializations.”

By cutting the traditional MBA period by five months, HEC Paris enables students to reduce opportunities costs and recoup lost income sooner. They can enjoy this benefit without scaling back on building relationships as a tradeoff. For Chen Kossover, the sense of community was a major differentiator when he looked at various business schools.

DEMANDING ACADEMICS NEVER GO OUT OF STYLE

HEC Paris MBA candidates take part in a military-style training exercise

“HEC Paris is unique and one of the few top MBA programs in the world to have such a small annual intake,” he observes. This, together with the fact that 92% of the students in the program are international (and therefore will share the adventure of moving to another country together with me) creates a close-knit community, which I believe will help me find a sense of belonging and provide me with the best opportunity to grow as a person.”

That growth is only hastened by the program’s emphasis on teaching excellence and academic performance – not to mention a wealth of options after the eight-month core has been completed. These benefits may be the most underrated parts of the HEC Paris MBA, says Andrea Masini.

“While most MBAs emphasize networking, corporate connections, extracurricular activities and the ‘fun’ factor, we believe that the quality and the rigor of the academic curriculum remains an important element of differentiation and the best guarantee to achieve your career goals. The HEC Paris MBA is recognized for the quality of its curriculum and the pedagogy of its professors. The richness, breadth, and flexibility of our MBA program (MBA ‘a la carte’) enable students to choose among a wide range of options, from the many electives to the various exchange programs, and the MBA projects.”

LEARNING LEADERSHIP FROM THE MILITARY

However, it is leadership training where HEC Paris truly stands out. That starts with TEC, short for The Executive Committee. Here, students step back for what one graduate calls “business therapy.” In a nutshell, students receive individual and small group coaching from executives, who provide guidance on everything from problem-solving to decision-making.

Another staple of the HEC leadership training is the Saint-Cyr Leadership Seminar, an off-campus event supervised by French military officers. Over two days, student teams engage in physical and mental challenges such as building a bridge to cross a waterway. The exercises are designed to take students back to the fundamentals of leadership, such as developing plans, marshaling resources, assigning roles, operating in adverse conditions (think rain and mud), and managing pressure. Sure enough, the activities are timed and feedback is given. However, Saint-Cyr also acts as a defining moment, where students learned to step up and shoulder uncomfortable roles.

Such experiences are perfect training for the real thing: MBAT. Dubbed the “MBA Olympics,” MBAT is a three-day competition that draws 1,500 competition in over two dozen sports ranging from soccer to running. As hosts, HEC Paris MBAs are responsible for every detail when the MBAT is held each May. For many, it is the highlight of their time as MBA students. Make no mistake: The Class of 2020 is looking forward to digging into it.

PROGRAMMING FOUNDED ON “ETHICAL AND PURPOSEFUL LEADERSHIP”

“I love getting swept up in the excitement around sporting events, and I cannot wait to meet other students from MBA programs all over the world,” says Amanda Moritz. “It is another great example of how HEC brings people together.”

HEC Paris’s Campus

“I believe this will be a great opportunity for us to put our leadership and teamwork skills to the test,” adds Lauren Anne Appel.

Leaders aren’t forged overnight. Such events, says Karthik Kannan, reinforce the program’s foundation of “ethical and purposeful leadership.” The thought that a leader’s obligation goes beyond just the bottom-line and the view that business KPIs can be achieved in a sustainable way are core pillars of this philosophy,” he explains. “The course curriculum has been designed keeping this in mind. The experiential learning during the leadership seminar at Saint Cyr, personal development opportunities through the ‘TEC On-Campus Program’, and the ‘Leadership Certificate’ are truly transformative experiences shaping the leadership styles of all HEC participants.”

PARIS IS JUST 17 MILES AWAY

Let’s not forget Paris – as if anyone could. Despite its name, HEC Paris is actually nestled in a forest village just 10 miles southwest of Paris. With a train nearby, students can hit the City in Light in an hour. It is a city that caters to every taste. For shoppers, there is the luxury lane of Champs-Elysees Avenue or the glorious mazes of Mache Bastille. The city also features hundreds of museums, galleries, and playhouses, including the Louvre – home of The Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo. It is an unforgettable place, one where you can savor a Château Margaux or Cheese Soufflé before taking a casual stroll along the Seine.

Beyond the romance, Paris is also a business hub. It is home to 29 Fortune 500 companies, with many concentrated in La Defense, a business district that punctuates the French skyline and houses nearly 200,000 workers. Just outside HEC Paris, you’ll find the Paris-Saclay Innovation Cluster, a mix of research facilities, universities, high tech startups, and outposts for corporate royalty like General Electric, Oracle, Siemens, Honeywell, and Volvo.

With the twin allure of culture and commerce, Paris tends to be the variable that tips decisions in HEC Paris’ favor. “Living in France has been a long-time goal of mine,” admits Amanda Moritz. “I studied French in high school and I cannot wait to practice it daily while living there. In addition, HEC’s proximity to and connections with Station F in Paris piqued my attention. I am looking forward to starting my own venture one day, and I think what France is doing in the startup space is cool.”

What led these professionals to enter business schools? Which programs did they also consider? What strategies did they use to choose their MBA program? What was the major event that defined them? Find the answers to these questions and many more in the in-depth profiles of these incoming MBA candidates.

StudentHometownAlma MaterEmployer
Lauren Anne AppelCape Town, South AfricaUniversity of Cape TownSasol
Dominique ChristiansenSantiago, ChilePontificia Universidad Católica de ChileLATAM Airlines Group
Omonefe (Nefe) EtomiLagos, NigeriaWarwick UniversityWarwick University
Rihards GarancsRiga, LatviaStockholm School of EconomicsCarlsberg Group
Karthik KannanBangalore, IndiaIIM IndoreTUNE
Chen KossoverRishon LeZion, IsraelTel Aviv UniversityMeitar Liquornik Geva Leshem Tal
Anubhav MitalKurukshetra, IndiaNational Institute of TechnologyBoston Consulting Group
Amanda MoritzBoston, MAMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyGoogle
David MozartStockholm, SwedenUppsala UniversityEricsson AB
Natalia NavarroGuadajalara, MexicoITESM (Tec de Monterrey)Microsoft