2019 MBAs To Watch: Tricia Wilson, HEC Paris

Tricia Wilson

HEC Paris

“A curious person who loves to have conversations with people that disagree with me.”

Hometown: Melbourne, Australia

Fun fact about yourself: I love making ice cream. And not the stereotypical vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry ice creams – I love to make ice cream flavors that most people have never considered could be an ice cream. Making ice creams has become a great way to make new friendships and deepen existing ones. One of my favorites this year was introducing some of my MBA classmates to an ice cream version of a Caprese Salad, with one scoop of tomato, honey basil, and olive oil and pepitas ice creams.

Undergraduate School and Degree: I went straight into the workforce after high school and did not complete an undergraduate degree.

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I was based in Australia at Iron Mountain, a global leader for storage and information management services, where I was a Strategic Applications Program Manager.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? This summer I chose to focus on a volunteer project, organizing TEDxHECParis.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will return to Iron Mountain as a Director, Program Management – International.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • TEDxHECParis Organizer
  • MBA Public Speaking Club President
  • MBA Leadership Award
  • HEC Foundation Prize

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Coming into the MBA without an undergraduate degree, I wasn’t sure how I would handle an academic program at the caliber of HEC Paris. That fear only escalated when I met my incredible classmates and walked into my first Statistics and Financial Markets classes. Fighting that voice of doubt all through term 1 was one of the hardest parts of the MBA for me. To my surprise the hard work paid off and I was thrilled to achieve good marks in all my subjects, even earning a 4.0 in term 2.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? One of the most challenging projects I lead at Iron Mountain was a project to replace a legacy invoicing system left over from an acquisition. The project had been deprioritized by the M&A team and a year later it was still untouched. I was asked to take over the project and was informed we had only 2 ½ months to complete the task or we would not pass our next audit.

I pulled together subject matter experts from across the business and set the scene for the challenge ahead. This was by far the highest performing team with whom I have ever worked. From system design and development to parallel invoice runs and reconciliation, to customer engagement, everyone rose to the challenge and outperformed expectations. We delivered the project on time, with no revenue variations, and very high customer satisfaction. I’ve never been prouder of a team.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Xavier Boute, our Statistics professor, was my favorite. Prof. Boute taught us something beyond statistics – he taught us how to communicate what the numbers were telling us to the people we work with. He understood that, as MBAs, we aren’t trying to become statisticians. As leaders, it’s imperative that we know how to interpret and share the information the numbers tell us and how to ask good questions about the data we receive.

What was your favorite MBA Course My favorite MBA course was Ethics because it opened my mind to just how much grey area there is in the world. The range of issues that can pose an ethical dilemma is far greater than I had previously considered. I learned how ethics is more than following a set of laws or norms. Ethics is informed by culture and experience. Most importantly, I came away from the course realizing how critical it is to ask my teams how they are solving problems and not assume that everyone will approach an issue the same way I will.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose HEC Paris because of its strong industry career outcomes and its close links with Station F, one of the biggest start-up campuses in the world. My goals were to develop a greater insight into creating new products and driving innovation in established organisations. Following the core curriculum, the HEC Paris specialisation phase would let me dedicate a full term to Digital Innovation courses. This term is entirely hands-on, and we are given opportunities to solve real problems for real companies. We not only learned the foundations for innovation and solution design, but practiced it again-and-again, giving us exposure to how C-suite leaders respond to new ideas and how to better prepare an organisation for change.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Sincerity is one trait common in all HEC Paris MBAs, so be your genuine self, warts and all! What you might think is a wart may just be the thing that helps you excel in the program.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth about HEC Paris is that it is in Paris. We may be very close to Paris as the crow flies, but the RER trains take a much less direct route! But don’t let that stop you. All of us find a way to enjoy the best of Paris life alongside the quiet of the little town of Jouy-en-Josas.

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? I wish I had realized how quickly the time would fly by and that not all my classmates would be at HEC Paris for the entire program. As people leave for dual degrees and exchange programs, it’s hard not to feel like you didn’t have enough time with your class. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet and work with amazing people from 50+ countries – don’t miss the chance to get to know every single one of them.

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? I call it the 3 C’s: Confidence, Clarity, and Character. I’ve become far more confident in what I am capable of and I’m far less afraid to try, even if I might not succeed. I’ve gained so much more clarity about what I want to do in the future and how I like to work. And I have discovered more about my own character, my values, and my priorities.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I’m so fortunate to be surrounded by an amazing group of people from all around the world. I admire so many, but if I have to name just one, Dany Isse is someone who consistently impresses me. Dany has been an exceptional example of service to our class. Two of his most meaningful contributions to our fellow MBA’s was the creation of the Sports and Wellness Club and stepping forward when called on to fill a role on the MBA Council. He works tirelessly on both of these, even delaying his planned move off campus, just to make sure he could support the new intake’s arrival. Thank you, Dany!

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? As I have a non-traditional background, I think more about who most influenced my decision to take a pause in my career to pursue study. My partner, Hannah Jones, was the biggest influence in my decision to apply to business school. I had been considering applying to MBA programs for some time, and always thought that not having an undergraduate degree would make that impossible. Hannah was my biggest supporter and convinced me that I should let the universities tell me “no” instead of telling myself no by not even trying.

What is your favorite movie about business? Mike Judge’s film Office Space is my favorite movie about business. This hilarious satirical take on business doesn’t just make me laugh, it’s also a great reminder about the downstream effects of bad corporate structures, onerous business processes, and poor team management.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be… training to complete the 121km Bass Coast Cycle Challenge.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? Priceless. You can’t put a price tag on the relationships that are built, the transformation you experience, and the opportunities it creates for you. The MBA is more than a financial equation, and I have no doubt that the expense will pay off 10-fold over my lifetime.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Someday I hope to kayak off the shores of Antarctica and I’d like to complete Melbourne’s Around the Bay in a Day 210km cycle challenge.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I hope I am remembered for my sense of humor, kindness, and for bringing a unique perspective to every discussion.

Hobbies? I love to kayak. There is no better way to see the world than from the cockpit of a kayak.  I look forward to exploring more of France from the water.

What made Tricia such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“Tricia impressed me from the very beginning of my Statistics course with her eagerness, her poise, and her perseverance. Statistics was a subject with which she was not familiar, but she never doubted her abilities and she worked hard to reach the level that is expected of an MBA student.

We quickly formed a mutual bond; she devoted herself to understanding the subject, and I thought of new teaching methods that would help her to advance. Her solidarity gave me the confidence to try new techniques and think up new challenges for MBA students.

In particular, I remember a time in class where I called on Tricia for an exercise using a passage of the book The Little Prince to explain complex notions of algebra. Her willingness to go along with this unusual technique meant I managed to persuade the whole class that this was a worthwhile exercise, resulting in everyone grasping some very difficult concepts.

Furthermore, I had the opportunity to observe Tricia during the Leadership Seminar at Saint Cyr, where I realized she had profound analytical capacities that enabled her to understand clearly whatever challenge she was presented with. She paid close attention to everything happening around her, including her fellow team members and the military mentors who supervise the seminar. Her ability to take into account the needs of every stakeholder during a task has been at the heart of all of Tricia’s leadership activities at HEC Paris.”

Xavier Boute

Professor, HEC Paris

“Without any hesitation, I recommend Tricia as an invaluable addition to the class of 2019. She is one of the most determined, humble, and honest people I’ve ever known.

I consider her as one of the leaders of her intake. It’s obvious that in a professional environment, she represents the perfect manager that any employee would want to have. She embodies important values, such as respect towards everyone and modesty, and she is constantly innovating and improving, and pushing herself to achieve the best results.

One of the best examples of her leadership is the TEDxHECParis event, which she organized. I really admire her and feel that she was one of the best participants that HEC Paris recruited for its MBA program.”

Johanna Abouteboul

Relationship Manager


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