Meet The MBA Class Of 2023: Zhanara Yessenberlina, HEC Paris

Zhanara Yessenberlina

HEC Paris

“I am a reliable, empathic and honest person who is open to new opportunities.”

Hometown: Almaty, Kazakhstan

Fun Fact About Yourself: I am very passionate about long-livers and different approaches on how to extend a human life duration. In my opinion, not only do genetics, lifestyle and medicine impact life duration, but also consciousness and energy level too I personally hope to reach the age of 100 years.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Southern California, Master’s degree, Computer Science

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Halyk Bank of Kazakhstan, Enterprise IT architect

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of HEC Paris’ MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? The most important part of an MBA school for me is diversity. HEC Paris has a unique and family-like environment of students of different nationalities, backgrounds, and experience. In my opinion, a leader in our global world needs to explore different styles of doing business and the best place to get such knowledge is HEC Paris.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at HEC Paris? I am very excited to attend MBAT (so-called MBA Olympics among European MBA schools) because it builds networking with other MBA schools, tests students’ leadership skills and helps to demonstrate exceptional sport skills. I hope to apply my leadership skills and skills I will learn at HEC Paris to help to organize this large-scale event.

HEC Paris is just 17 kilometers from Paris. What do you see as the best part of earning your MBA so close to Paris? I have dreamed of learning French since completion of my master’s school because I am very passionate about all French: culture, cuisine, tradition, language etc. I think Paris is the best place to explore French life and people. One of the main reasons for choosing HEC Paris for me was the proximity to Paris.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest career accomplishment is the participation in the merger of two of the largest banks in Kazakhstan in 2018. I was a key member of the project integration office and was responsible for the IT part integration. This project was very challenging in terms of deadlines and scale, and unique for CIS region in terms of complexity. During this project, I experienced what it means to be a leader. Being a leader is to not only set tasks and control their progress, but also to believe yourself in goal achievement, motivate and inspire others, and unite very different people for the one common goal. Experience gained on the project strengthened my leadership skills and helped me to better understand how to manage people in stressful situations.

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? By the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I had worked at my current job for 9 years, thinking that I had achieved all my career goals. However, COVID-19 has pushed me to take the next step in my career. During the lockdown period, I reassessed my perspectives on life, plans and future career, realizing that I achieved career goals in my country and want to get international experience and grow as a leader globally.

COVID-19 has triggered irrevocable changes such as remote work, fast development of various online services and change of the business paradigm. Like the after-pandemic world, I have to adapt to challenges of new times, continue professional development, and upgrade my skills.

In addition, COVID-19 has changed my lifestyle: attitude to consumption has become more conscious, the circle of friends has narrowed, but the relationship has become deeper, attention to nature has become more attentive.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation?  I believe the HEC Paris MBA program will help me to become more agile, to build international networking and learn the competencies needed for a global leader. These skills will help me to achieve my current career goals: get international working experience and grow as a global leader. In addition, I believe that the HEC Paris life-changing experience will help me to strengthen my strong sides as a person.

After graduation, I hope to stay in Europe and find a job in a technology or finance (banking) sector. In terms of geography, I aim for French-speaking countries because I would like to practice my French.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I applied to INSEAD MBA as a plan B for the last intake, but I pinned all my hopes on HEC Paris. During the very first Zoom call with a recruiter from HEC Paris, I had a gut feeling that this school is the best place for me.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into HEC Paris’s MBA program? First, correctly assess your background, potential and career goals before applying to MBA schools. Second, have a strong wish and be persistent because the preparation and admission process is not a sprint but a marathon. Finally, believe in yourself in spite of your weaknesses in your profile, everyone has some weak points.


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.