Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Samuel Deason, HEC Paris

Samuel Deason

HEC Paris

“I am an international prizewinning pianist, land developer, and educator. I also have a fetish for equations.”

Hometown: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Fun Fact About Yourself: I enjoy hunting wild mushrooms, and once cooked a wild mushroom risotto shaped to resemble the forest in which the mushrooms were picked. A burnt spring onion closely resembles a miniature fallen tree!

Undergraduate School and Major:

  • Undergraduate: The Glenn Gould School – B.Mus – Piano Performance
  • Masters: Peabody Conservatory Johns Hopkins University – Master of Music – Piano Performance
  • Doctorate: Northwestern University – Doctor of Musical Arts – Piano Performance

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Northwestern University – Instructor/The People’s Music School – Development Intern

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of the school’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school, and why was it so important to you? It was the ability to study both Luxury Brand Management and Social Impact as key parts of HEC’s MBA programming that led me to choose this school. Many luxury businesses and arts organizations successfully utilize both contemporary and timeless artistic elements as aspects of brand identity. I hope to be able to apply these learnings as an arts management professional.

What club or activity excites you most at this school? I would actually like to start my own small group (perhaps, club!) dedicated to bi-weekly readings and interrogations of French poetry. If you would like to practice your French while familiarizing yourself with an extraordinarily meaningful literary history, let me know!

What makes you most excited about getting your MBA at HEC Paris? What makes you most nervous about starting business school? What makes me both excited AND nervous about getting my MBA at HEC Paris is entering such a renowned institution with little-to-no academic business training. I am beyond thrilled to be given an opportunity to learn from and alongside some of the most influential leaders in the world. Although my curiosity will be an asset, I will need just as much discipline in order to gain the most out of this program.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My greatest achievement was performing Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations. As one of his longest compositions for the piano (about an hour long), it presents a challenge of both physicality and interpretation to perform. This composition is imbued with interpretive dualities and structural sophistication. It is particularly ironic that in this year of celebration – 250 years after Beethoven’s birth – that all live concerts have been canceled. This deaf composer’s anniversary will be celebrated in silence.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? My decision to pursue an MBA is a corollary of my artistic objective – to increase the number of meaningful artistic experiences in as many lives as possible. As a musician, this was done primarily through performing for audiences and teaching gifted students. An MBA will give me the tools to scale the realization of this objective to an organizational level.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Yale SOM, Northwestern Kellogg, SKK GSB.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? One of HEC Paris’ essay questions requests an instance of dealing with issues of leadership and ethics. This question was particularly challenging as I felt pressure to conjure up a major moment of moral transcendence. Ultimately, I stayed true to my own experiences and deconstructed one minor, but still consequential misunderstanding I had with a coworker.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? If I could pick one defining moment which prepared me for business school, it would be purchasing a house with piano competition prize money at the age of 14. Learning about mortgages, cashflow, property taxes, and city bylaws at a young age was a fantastic learning experience.

What have you been doing to prepare yourself for business school? At the moment, I am doing mostly practical things in order to prepare myself for business school. These things include getting my finances in order, finishing my current degree, and securing a place to live in France. In the coming weeks, I hope to review some linear algebra and differential equations, in addition to familiarizing myself with some of the business school textbooks. I’m not sure if it is truly possible to fully prepare myself for what lies ahead!

What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them? My favorite company is a nonprofit organization I am currently interning at – The People’s Music School – which provides tuition-free music education to almost 1000 students in the Chicago area. Enrollment requires a number of serious commitments on behalf of each student and parent, ultimately resulting in extra reasons and incentives to practice one’s instrument! Their business model, flat corporate structure, social impact, and multi-talented leadership teams are all worthy of emulation.

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