2021 Best & Brightest MBAs: Emric Navarre, HEC Paris

Emric Navarre

HEC Paris

“Patient and discreet, with an eye for detail and an ability to lead.”

Hometown: Cheyenne Mountain, CO

Fun fact about yourself: I lived north of the Arctic Circle, in Greenland, for a little over a year.

Undergraduate School and Degree:
American University, Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics
Harvard University, Graduate certificate in International Relations

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school?
Company (US Government): GPS Space Operations, Colorado Springs, CO
Role: Program director for GPS Modernization and Training

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? I did not have an internship during summer of 2020.

Where will you be working after graduation? I am still completing my studies but will soon start looking for roles in strategy and management in East Asia and Western Europe.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:


– Student Life Representative

– President and Co-Founder of the HEC Handicap – Disability Association

– Project leader and board advisor for 180 Degree Consulting

– Student Ambassador


– Recipient of the Class of 2021 Transformational Leadership Awards

– HEC Foundation Awards 2020 Winner

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? As Student Life Representative, I’m most proud of the foundations I helped build to perfect communications and interactions between the school and students. Even before the pandemic, I tried to start transforming the way students and the school administration would discuss decisions that affect students. Of course, it required some effort, persistence and patience, but it paid off.

By sheer necessity, the pandemic greatly accelerated this transformation. The school has been a leader in its ability to acknowledge that many of the solutions to the crisis could be hastened by utilizing the students they were trying to help. We were able to change how student leaders could liaise with different departments within the school to solve problems quickly (i.e., direct communication lines with housing directors, curriculum managers, etc.). I think HEC Paris was able to get through the crisis a lot better than other schools because of this.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In 2014 I successfully led a team to organize and execute humanitarian airdrops of food and water to refugees surrounded by ISIL militants on Mt Sinjar in the Middle East. This was a very time-sensitive project that required a lot coordination with people located around the world, including Europe, North America and the Middle East. These operations were assigned very quickly, had a tight deadline and were beyond what was expected in our duties. I was relatively young and new to my job (only a few months in at the time), but I still had to step up. The efforts that my team and I executed really did help people, which was very rewarding. The added bonus was that I didn’t let my supervisors down. I was able to learn a lot quickly and gain the trust of my colleagues so that when future projects arrived, these were assigned to me with confidence.

This event is a constant reminder for me that you should always put your best foot forward: you never know when you’ll unexpectedly be asked to transform something quickly, and you don’t want to fall short of expectations.

Why did you choose this business school? My primary goals were to transition into a new industry, seek opportunities outside the United States, and develop new skills and experiences. I chose France because I already had a background in French, and the country hosts a great mix of multinational and start-up companies while being at the heart of Europe. I chose HEC Paris because of its reputation for excellence, its program length and its international diversity.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor is Prof. Xavier Boute, who teaches Statistics & Business Analytics and also serves as the Leadership Seminar coordinator at HEC Paris. Professor Boute volunteered to be my thesis project advisor, but beyond that, he was also a mentor throughout my time at HEC. I was able to learn leadership concepts beyond what is normally taught in the curriculum though his actions.

Professor Boute has also had an immense impact on the wellbeing of the student population at HEC Paris. Even before the pandemic, he interacted and connected with students outside the classroom, making appearances and supporting various events while also teaching and being a handicap referent. During the pandemic, he helped the school in various ways, from helping set up resources to acting as Dean of Student Affairs for a short time. Of course, he is not alone – many professors followed suit and organized their own ways to connect with students during the pandemic. But Professor Boute embodies the drive that many professors at HEC have: to be more than just professors but mentors who care about the wellbeing of their students.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Unfortunately, the pandemic forced us to cancel some of the key events that most students look forward to, including the Off-campus Leadership Seminar and the MBA Tournament (known as the ‘MBA Olympics’ because it welcomes thousands of students and competitors from schools in Europe and around the world).

But one of the most memorable traditions at HEC Paris was a simple one: every Thursday, in the largest auditorium of campus, a French movie with English subtitles would be played for anyone to come and watch for free. It was a great opportunity for friends to gather, get some food at a nearby food truck, spend time with each other, and maybe even try to learn some French. After the movie, the student bar and lounge would open so we could continue interacting if we wanted to, or call it a night.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? One of the projects I wanted to complete prior to the pandemic was to try to develop continuity for some elements of MBA life, particularly to help make the transition to France easier. This was to ensure that the lessons we learned throughout our time at HEC could be documented in some way for future classes. This was a task that I tried to do in my capacity as Student Life Representative for the MBA, but I should have delegated that project to the MBA club leaders as well. Unfortunately, the pandemic changed everyone’s priorities and this was one of the first things to be dropped, since we were rewriting the book on what it meant to be a student when classes became hybridized.

What surprised you the most about business school? During the 8-month-long core phase of the curriculum, the school divides students into teams of 5 or 6 for group work and projects. What surprised me was the way these groups are composed and the effort the school puts into curating our learning experience at every level. No two people in each group are alike: experience, age, and the rest are all organized in a way to ensure that we can always learn from each other. They manage to achieve this for all groups, so everyone gets the same experience. They do not allow luck be a factor in our core academic curriculum, and this attention to detail was very impressive.

It also ensures we meet as many of our classmates as possible. We expand our small group of friends to create new bonds and friendships that otherwise might not have happened. Their choices are meant to challenge us and help us grow; I think many of us would say mission accomplished. And if you want to work with friends, you are free to choose your teammates during the second phase of the program – but by then you have many more friends to choose from.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? It may seem obvious, but I think the most important decision I made was to be myself. I had a unique background and I thought it might not necessarily fit with the type of person HEC was seeking. Some people had told me to tailor my resume and emphasize key words during my interviews. Instead, I just decided to present my experiences and abilities, and it was absolutely the right choice. I realized this only after we started classes at HEC, when it became apparent that there is no ‘perfect’ background for the program. Everyone around me had their own unique accomplishments, and the vision of success changes depending on the person. If I had to pretend to be someone for admissions, I could have been a drain on the rest of the cohort – HEC would have selected me to add value in a certain way but it wouldn’t have been me. It’s not a perfect process, but HEC did a good job at selecting students.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? While acknowledging that choosing one person does not negate the positive influence of many classmates, I have come to admire Fang-Ling Hsueh.

Fang-Ling is a brilliant classmate who has been supportive and willing to help those who asked. Sometimes, an unfortunate side effect of being in a competitive environment is that people tend to remember those who were the loudest or spoke the most. Fang-Ling is a quiet professional who stayed focused on her priorities. She’s a loyal friend to those lucky enough to know her, and is not afraid to hold people responsible. She helped support students who were having various difficulties, such as couples broken up because of dual-degrees, and was a model student during the pandemic. Yet she never used any of this as an excuse to not work or accomplish her obligations. She is always a very hard worker.

Beyond the tutoring, she provided to ensure many classmates succeeded in their courses, she also stayed dedicated to her civic duties. Fang-Ling took the time to fly out to her home country, vote in its presidential elections, and return in time for her next class the following week. Exhausting, expensive, but also emblematic of her sense of responsibility and her selflessness when part of a community.

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? The pandemic’s impact ‘hit’ France and our academic program 2 weeks before the end of our academic term. The school paused all teaching for one week to transition online. While finals were a little tough, the next few weeks and semester went smoothly from an academic perspective. The school has consistently been active in ensuring we could have the best possible class experience, added class times for different time zones, and pushed for in-person experiences whenever allowed. In the fall, we were allowed to have in-person classes again (within the proper framework) and even those limited interactions allowed classmates to bond with each other. Academically, the processes put in place mitigated the disruption from the pandemic.

What has been tougher for a lot of people is the loss of social events. For many, the career fairs, trips across France and Europe, and other in-person events were integral in their choice of an MBA program – and these were disrupted by national requirements to minimize the spread of the virus and help the medical infrastructure. While many events were moved online, the bonding experiences simply cannot be the same.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? When I lived in Qatar (after having progressed in my career), a mentor and friend named Charlie suggested I look into getting an advanced degree, and we spoke a little bit about MBAs. I took his words to heart and did my research. I didn’t act on it immediately but it was always in the back of my mind as the ‘next step’. When I reached a point in my professional life where I wanted some change, the idea resurfaced and it seemed like the right opportunity to transition from one career to another. This mentor ended up writing one of my letters of recommendation for HEC.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  1. I would like to reach a level in my new organization where I can be trusted to make decisions about staff and policy. In essence, being entrusted to take a strategic, high-level responsibility and the decisions associated with it.
  2. I realize the pandemic may change the way organizations interact with their international offices, but I certainly hope to be able to have the opportunity to travel around the world and meet coworkers.

What made Emric such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021?

“Emric is the type of student you notice immediately in class. Despite having a wealth of professional experience, he is humble with a positive attitude and a real passion for learning.

From the beginning, he showed a strong desire to help his fellow students. Recognizing the needs of disabled students, Emric helped organize a day dedicated to this topic back in November 2020.

Next, he took on the role of Student Life Representative for his class. Since March 2020, he has been acting as a liaison between students and the administration, sharing the difficulties encountered because of the pandemic. He has been a real source of ideas and valuable advice, and his actions have helped reduce the stress and pressure for the entire student body. Needless to say, he has shown tremendous skills in crisis management and leadership.

I also had the pleasure to act as an advisor for Emric during his MBA Project titled, “How can lunar games and competition promote space education and investment?” Throughout the project, he showed his openness, his ability to think out of the box, and his enormous dedication to his work.

Still, the main quality I observed in Emric throughout all these instances is his ability to listen and to take in advice. Emric came to the HEC Paris MBA with many excellent qualities, and he will leave us with so many more, thanks to his willingness to help out and the way he benefitted from his courses and his interactions with his fellow students, his professors and the MBA staff. He is simply an exceptional student and an exceptional human being.”

Xavier Boute
Associate Professor of Economics and Decision Sciences and Student Life Director



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