Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Leonie Freigi, HEC Paris

Leonie Freigi

HEC Paris

Grit and curiosity … that’s what I am made of!”

Hometown: Zahlé, Lebanon

Fun Fact About Yourself:  I’m also a dentist!

Undergraduate School and Major: Saint Joseph University – Beirut / Doctor of Dental Surgery

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Founder and Creative Director at Léonie

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? I chose HEC Paris for several reasons:

  • Its ranking and reputation. HEC is one of the top 10 best business schools in the world!
  • Its location: Paris is a hub for business, fashion and entrepreneurship not only in Europe, but also in the world!
  • The networking opportunities that HEC Paris provides are unmatchable.
  • Length of the program (around 16 months), which is perfect in my case, and enables me to connect with like-minded people, build a network, and take my time to make the most out of this experience. Whereas, other programs are either too long or too short.

What club or activity excites you most at this school? 

The Luxury Club and the Entrepreneurship Club: Those are my areas of expertise.

The Consulting Club: That’s a field that triggers my curiosity and passion.

What makes you most excited about getting your MBA at HEC Paris? What makes you most nervous about starting business school? What most excites me most is being part of an international cohort, in a top ranked university, and studying courses that interest me. I’m excited as well to see how the future will unfold; I am positive that several opportunities lay ahead of me. However, as everything is new to me, I have to admit that I will definitely be outside of my comfort zone, and this makes me a bit nervous.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Growing up in a small town in Lebanon, with not so many opportunities around me, I still overcame every impediment, defied stereotypes, and launched “Leonie”: a Lebanese sustainable fashion brand that specializes in hand made jewelry.

As a dentist, jewelry design was merely a hobby, and people around me said it was a fool’s errand. However, as I am endowed with thick skin and an elastic heart, relinquishing this dream was never an option and so I moved heaven and earth to make this small business thrive. Later that year, I was invited to one of the most popular live TV shows not only in Lebanon, but also in the GCC (MTV Alive) to talk about the jewelry pieces. I was also elected Woman of the Month on the financial emagazine El Nashra, when I was barely 21 years old.

When everything was on edge, I never withdrew myself from what I started: I graduated from dental school with very high grades and proved everyone who did not believe in me wrong. It was the same for my jewlery line, as the jewelry pieces were featured on many regional and international magazines and also spotted on public figures. Eventually, “Leonie” became the local go-to brand when women looked for original pieces. Points of sale reached Egypt, Ivory Coast, KSA, and USA.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career?  I feel like I am facing a glass ceiling on both levels:  professional and personal. Growth opportunities are few, success is far-fetched, and creating impact on a large scale is implausible in the near future as the region faces not only an economic turmoil but also a political coup. This is exactly why I am pursuing an MBA. I believe an MBA will not only provide me with a stronger business background, but it will be a perfect bridge to reach my goals.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I haven’t applied to any other program.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? We dived deep into the business side of fashion and I was asked a series of questions: How will the fashion market accustom post COVID-19? What should fashion brands do? How did you calculate your customer acquisition cost? And the list goes on.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? I can’t remember one defining moment. In fact, it’s an accumulation of small events happening in my everyday life.

What have you been doing to prepare yourself for business school? I have been working on my own startup for the past 4 years. I have to admit: there’s nothing better than a hands-on experience to prepare you for business school! Reading books or blogs and attending workshops and webinars also helped me a lot and widened my scope of knowledge.

What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them? Hmm! That’s a tough one! I’ve got several companies (big and small!) in mind:

On a corporate level, I’d choose McKinsey:  I simply admire their problem-solving skills, their analysis structure and their passion to learn and always grow no matter the industry. Business students can also learn from them how important communication skills are, no matter how good you are in business, and case-cracking it eventually comes down to how trustful you are, and whether you’re a good team player or not, so never underestimate interpersonal skills.

On a more personal level, I’d definitely choose Leonie, the small brand that I founded. What I learned from my journey, and what any student can learn from my company, is that it takes a lot of hard work to achieve success. Everyone wants to succeed, but few are those who really put in the hard work. Having a vision in business is underrated, so always remember your “why” and keep it at the core of everything you do.


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