2022 Best & Brightest MBA: Anna Pozniakoff, HEC Paris

Anna Pozniakoff

HEC Paris

“French-Swiss, enthusiastic mother of 1. Passionate with people, team-leading & willing to change the world!”

Hometown: Paris, France

Fun fact about yourself: I love everything in motion, from cars, to bikes, horses, or helicopters. But I can only master 3 of those 4 categories, I will let you guess which!

Undergraduate School and Degree: EHL Hospitality Business School (Lausanne, Switzerland), Bachelor of Sciences in Hospitality Management.

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? La Réserve Paris, Palace hotel in the heart of the city as sales manager in charge of European markets.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? I was very lucky to receive the best promotion of my life right at the beginning of internship period, when I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy mid-July.

From multitasking, anticipating, building resilience and learning to let-go sometimes, this experience was the most instructive I ever faced in my career. I even got lucky enough to be hired after my 3 months trial, and now our big boy is 7 months old and can’t wait to walk!

Where will you be working after graduation? Brand Manager, Diabetes, Eli Lilly & Company

I came to HEC Paris with one question in mind: “Can one do well by doing good?”. My research and wonders on the matter helped me understand that my way was to work in an impactful industry — an industry that changes the lives of its stakeholders for the best.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

President of the MBA Council
Excellence Scholarship recipient
Leadership Award granted by the cohort
Leadership Award granted by the HEC Foundation.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I was pregnant when I entered the MBA Council campaign, with all the challenges it implies. We ran an out-of-the-box candidacy aligned with COVID measures, which asked not only for extra creativity, but also energy and dedication to communicate and convince the voting-students.

We ended up the campaign during our first-term exams, and not only did my team win the elections, but all of us worked jointly and successfully passed our evaluations. It was a great pride to start our mandate this way, showing that a team working together could support one another and unleash human magic.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? When at La Réserve Paris, I successfully put together the reception department. I was then promoted to the European sales manager position, representing the property in Europe by travelling in over 10 countries and France.

While I was holding my position, it was decided that the hotel would develop a catering service. Since I was part of the team from the beginning of the project and initially from the food and beverage department, I was designated to run the timeline, put together procedures, deal with clients and manage the first six months of activity while holding my sales position.

The two seats were hard to manage upfront, but I was able to multitask, recruit and train reliable people around me and embark the rest of the restaurant team in the project. I was relieved from my duties, and both the catering and the European market outperformed expectations that year!

Why did you choose this business school? As a French-Swiss citizen, I always heard of the wonderful reputation of HEC Paris and its MBA program, ranked among the best in Europe. It was therefore very naturally that when the question of my MBA arose I immediately sent my application to HEC Paris.

One of the mission statements of HEC Paris is “Tomorrow is our Business”. They proved it with their professionalism all along the process of admission looking for talents, their quest for excellence and innovation, and their focus towards sustainability. Finally, the rich ecosystem of the campus ended up convincing me to join this fabulous school.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? My MBA experience was strongly marked by my MBA Council President mandate, and one matter that the Coronavirus pandemic totally topped was the subject of sexual harassment.

Indeed, almost no prevention took place when we arrived on campus, and I fell in the trap of overlooking this subject. After all, weren’t we a group of smart and educated individuals, theoretically incapable of this kind of violence? I must admit I totally misjudged the human nature in this situation. It later occurred that some students were sexually harassed, and none of them being locals they did not have the keys to answer legally to these aggressions.

As soon as the situation came to my understanding, I therefore addressed the victims, and coordinated the setup of an investigation by an outside consultant to inquire about the potential harasser. My mandate was then over. but I remained in the organization of a prevention committee and helped the new president to better prevent and inform future cohorts. Today the logistic and dialogue are better and more opened, but a lot of work remains to be done on the matter.

What surprised you the most about business school? When studying first at EHL in Switzerland for my undergrad — and then at HEC Paris for my MBA — I was astonished by the multitude and intertwinement of topics studied. Each piece of the puzzle of management is crucial, and it is only when you put them together that a big picture, wider than you could have imagined, is seen.

I find it fascinating how simulations, case studies, and even guest speakers can then make these teachings real.  I am grateful that HEC also gave us time to process this enormous amount of information and reflect on our role, potential impact, and responsibilities as leaders of tomorrow.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? Humor! As soon as I got ready to apply to HEC, I got in touch with the admission team and quickly understood that I needed my application to stand-out. I therefore chose to address the essay questions we had to redeem with a fun-touch.

To the question — “If you could lead a totally different life than the one you currently have, what would it be?” —  I imagined myself as an active member of the Royal Family of England. I also depicted Pope Francis like a great leader of our times and choose to dedicate my open-subject essay to the market of feminine hygienic protections in emerging countries. After all, I thought, why not address an underestimate, yet societal subject to close my file?

 Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I met with Roula Boustany a few days after arriving at HEC Paris. We quickly became friends and through her I got to discover her culture. Roula is from Lebanon. Despite truly loving her country and culture, she is now planning her life abroad. Roula taught me about resilience, making the best of a difficult situation, knowing to let go when things get out of your control, and more importantly to never lose your smile despite anything that may happen to you.

I am truly admirative of her dedication to her friends, work ethic, faith in the future and love for her country, no matter what. I think she is a wonderful example to keep in mind anytime we feel down.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My grandfather was truly the best person I encountered. Gentle, kind, smart and generous, this Swiss farmer was the first one in his region to automatize some of his farming process. He then faced hard criticisms from neighbors when hiring a worker who was a foreigner. Critics then evolved in jealousy and envy when he was then able to offer one full day-off a week to his entire family thanks to these innovations.

Upon choosing a career, my grandfather then explained to me that not only was he the first one to innovate in the farm, but he was also always following the news and developments outside the village. That’s how he saw the urban migration and decided to build residential properties on some of his least fertile lands. He encouraged me to choose an international branch that would allow me to work anywhere in the world to notice and ride the changes he was able to depict in Geneva. This is partly how I ended up choosing a business school and making my life out of it.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I would find very depressing to have a single bucket list on my professional journey. What if I tick the box and then… what’s next? I’d rather share with you my two mottos — the true boxes I’d like to tick every day of my professional life.

The first one would be to enrich the life of people I work with, and for. Shall it be a co-worker, seeking for his or her own path at some time, a manager I could help on some project, or a client I could amaze while exceeding his or her expectations.

My second daily-box-to-tick would be to help prepare my company to address its future issues to make it as sustainable as possible. After all, why build redistribution and success if it shall not last?

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career?

I always believed a company was not only at stake to make money, and that some greater goal had to be pursued. But the pandemic made me understand and better phrase that a company must create value for all its stakeholders to be sustainably successful, while gaining in agility and resilience. I now believe that the daily business of a company goes far beyond the scope of what was expected of its owners even 10 years ago, and that a greater impact should be pursued.

I truly hope to have the chance to drive a company towards that vision and mission, and I will thrive to impact the world as positively as possible, with consistency and flexibility with the daily business of the company I will join tomorrow.

What made Anna such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“Anna started her MBA in September 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike other candidates who preferred to postpone their studies, she was convinced that, despite all the constraints that the pandemic imposed, doing an MBA at HEC Paris was the best choice to develop her leadership skills and achieve a career transformation. And that the value of an MBA was even higher in times of uncertainty and disruption. She proved to everybody she was right.

There is no doubt that Anna is a bright, competent and committed MBA student. Her academic achievements need no further comments. However, it is her leadership skills that clearly made her stand out. During her time at HEC Paris Anna demonstrated vision, resilience, and charisma throughout one of the most challenging times for our community. As president of the MBA Council (the association of MBA students), she played a key role in supporting her fellow MBA students, in letting their voices to be heard and in helping the school adapt the program to the challenges students were facing — but without compromising on the academic requirements and preserving the MBA experience. She demonstrated an unusual ability to understand the big picture, to explain and motivate decisions — even they were hard — and to find practical solutions to apparently unsurmountable challenges.

Despite her heavy academic workload and her duties as MBA Council president, she also found the time to give birth to a beautiful baby during her studies. Needless to say, she managed to do that without compromising on her duties or delaying her studies.

For all these reasons, I give her my strongest possible endorsement.”

Andrea Masini
Associate Dean, MBA Programs
HEC Paris

“I had the pleasure to work with Anna when she became MBA Council president. This young woman proved herself twice as capable as anyone as she was running her mandate pregnant and in the midst of the Coronavirus crisis at HEC. From taking the helm when the campus was one of the initial cluster of the UK-variant in Paris, to managing the testing campaigns, supporting students in isolation and still nurturing and dynamizing our professional and social clubs, Anna proved true leadership skills.

With cold-thinking, team-leading, hard-work and energy she also succeeded in integrating deeper the MBA program in the wide ecosystem of HEC Paris, developing excellent relations with the student reps from different programs of the school.

I can only recommend her profile for the “2022 P&Q Best & Brightest” and can’t wait to hear more of her many successes to come in the near future!”

Xavier Boute
Associate Dean of Student Life, Associate Professor, and Board Member
HEC Paris


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