Meet The Alumni: HEC Paris

HEC Paris is one of the top business schools in Europe. To date, HEC Paris has over 70,000 alumni in their network, with representation from an incredible 152 out of 195 countries globally. That encompasses students from nearly 80% of the world’s nations, which directly reflects the school’s commitment to cultivating an international community of students.

During their time at the school, HEC Paris MBAs get the best of both worlds, living in tranquility in the forests south of Versailles, just a 50-minute train ride outside of the City of Lights. Nearby in Paris are a few hundred thousand researchers, inventors, and entrepreneurs — the largest ecosystem of its kind in continental Europe.

Accessibility and opportunity for MBAs are abundant, and they can easily tap into the pool of alumni and nearby professionals working in biotech, AI, climate, smart manufacturing, and cybersecurity to create connections.

CHOOSING HEC

Poets&Quants gathered the perspectives of ten HEC Paris alumni, who all shared their thoughtful insights on their time at the B-school. Among the ten was Class of ‘22 grad Solape Oguntayo, who welcomed her first son as she finished her final semester at the B-school.

Oguntayo chose HEC Paris for the diversity among students, the small class sizes that allow students to create close connections with each other, and the option to specialize in Finance. “In addition, 16 months is just enough time to be in school and not away from the job market. The option of doing an internship, specialization, and an exchange program all within the period was appealing as well,” she says.

Like Oguntayo, MBA Gilberto Domingos Modenesi Filho, Class of 2020, says he chose HEC Paris for its diversity, the location, the school’s brand and reputation, and for its course structure – 4 modules over the course of 16 months. While the HEC Paris MBA program extends beyond the typical 12-month European standard, this duration provides students with plenty of time to explore their interest areas, which is a feature that attracts many.

Alum Moussa Nakoulima, Class of ‘19, says that HEC Paris was the right fit for two reasons. “First, because of HEC’s stellar reputation and legacy of excellence, and second, the nurturing environment provided by the school, from the MBA administrative team that supported us even before we arrived, all the way to the alumni network.”

A CULTURE OF KINDNESS AND COLLABORATION

Among many other positive things, HEC Paris students are leaders, entrepreneurs, and problem solvers. Nakoulima says there was a spirit of solidarity and friendship within his cohort. During his time at the B-school, he joined the Africa Club, which connected him to other African business professionals. “As a Senegalese national, it mattered to me to join a club that was interested in and was also discussing the vibrant and dynamic business climate in Africa.”

The school boasts a variety of both professional and social clubs; among the many are the Data Science Club, Energy Club, Private Equity/Venture Capital Club all the way to the French Connection Club, the Wine and Spirits Club, and the Sports and Wellness Club.

MBA Megan Scullion, Class of ‘21, commends her professors at HEC Paris. “The professors care about your development and challenge you to be the type of professional with solid business and financial skills, but equally important, one that will walk in the world with morals and ethics and challenge things, to help shape and mold a better future.”

She says HEC Paris is known for kindness and collaboration among the students compared to other programs with more of a competitive, cutthroat culture, which played a large part in her decision.

“HEC imparts students with exceptional knowledge and experience of life and business in continental Europe, and the network you become a part of is one of the most rarefied and robust in the world. I’d be remiss without adding that Paris at your doorstep is magical, and the food — let the French teach you how to eat.”

HEC SECRETS TO SUCCESS

The alum who have successfully traversed the program were happy to pass on their strategies to success. Scullion quotes Socrates when she says her key to success is to “Know thyself.”

“The biggest success you can have will come by deeply and profoundly knowing yourself. When you excel at self-knowledge and self-acceptance, you can make sound decisions that are rooted in a basis of confidence and wisdom, and without ego. You are meant to be exemplary if you are graduating from this school, with one of the highest degrees available. You can achieve something of greater significance for yourself and for others,” she says.

If prospective MBAs don’t feel they know themselves yet — not to worry. HEC Paris is a great place to explore and discover who you are. Even if students arrive believing they have a deep understanding of themselves, it’s likely they will unearth a new set of interests they didn’t know they had.

An MBA with a longer duration means more room for transformational potential — and incredibly, two-thirds of the MBAs change either geography, sector, or focus, while a remarkable 80% change two or more.

Alum Harsha Kotthapalli, Class of 2019, is now a Product Marketing Manager living in Barcelona. Post-MBA, he has fellow alum he can visit in major cities across the globe. His secret to success? “Make your own definition of success,” he says.

Mario Mihajlov, a recent graduate from the Class of 2023, attributes his success to one essential quality: persistence.

ACHIEVEMENTS AT HEC

Mihajlov is proud to be the first Macedonian ever to graduate from HEC Paris with an MBA.

He says this, “Represents not only a personal milestone but also a testament to the importance of diversity and international inclusion in education.” HEC Paris is highly international, with 94% of their class coming to the program from outside of France.

Bruno Mickael da Silva, Class of 2021, placed at the top in a business competition during his time at HEC Paris.

“I established and led a case competition team of six that participated in the Venture Capital Investment Competition at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. Our team excelled, clinching victory in the university final and securing the top spot in the regional final. We went on to achieve a remarkable feat by reaching the prestigious top 10 position worldwide for the global finals,” he says.

FONDEST MEMORIES AT HEC

Alongside internship experiences, the Outdoor Leadership seminar, and the MBA Tournament, there is one repeating theme among favorite memories — and that’s creating strong and meaningful connections with fellow MBAs.

Da Silva says his best memories are in his personal relationships. “My most cherished memories at HEC Paris revolve around the deep and meaningful personal connections I formed with my classmates. In one-on-one conversations, I discovered the remarkable journeys they undertook to reach the program, which often involved overcoming significant challenges. This shared understanding led to tears of empathy and the realization that we truly deserved to be there together. These friendships forged during my MBA will last a lifetime,” he says.

Laura Peláez Suárez, Class of 2023, is living in Madrid and working for Paramount as a Content Distribution Manager. Some of her best memories surround playing tennis in her morning ritual, which she was able to translate into understanding others’s behaviors in business settings.

“HEC’s sports facilities are perfect for sports enthusiasts. One of the books recommended to me, ‘What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School,’ explained how practicing sports with others helps you understand how they will perform in a professional setting. I started paying a lot of attention to that, and it was very enjoyable to observe things like who called a ball out when it was in, who would win even after starting off losing, or who was always willing to reserve the court and bring extra rackets,” she said.

Graduating with her degree in 2020, Emma Zaraisky says, “My fondest memory from MBA school is the evenings where my friends and I gathered, savoring French wine and cheese, and sharing dreams of our future careers. As we laughed, toasted, and encouraged one another, we realized that this was not just evenings of enjoyment but defining moments when we collectively decided to challenge ourselves and pave new career paths.”

CONNECTING & KEEPING AN OPEN MIND

Zaraisky is currently working as a Partnership Development Manager at Google and living in London. Her advice to incoming MBAs is, “Embrace networking, excel in teamwork, and soak up every lesson — your MBA journey is not just about the degree, but the connections and knowledge you gain.”

Recent grad from the Class of ‘23 Parveen Karjiker is currently living in Germany working for Eli Lilly. Her secret to success is to stay consistent, and her advice is to be curious. “Keep an open mind even if you think that you have a detailed plan worked out. The best experiences and opportunities arise when you take a chance on something that you had not previously considered,” she says.

DON’T MISS THESE PROFILES OF RECENT HEC PARIS ALUMNI

MEGAN SCULLION

EMMA ZARAISKY

LAURA PELÁZ SUÁREZ

SOLAPE OGUNTAYO

MOUSSA NAKOULIMA

BRUNO MIKAEL DA SILVA

GILBERTO DOMINGOS MODENESI FILHO

MARIO MIHAJLOV

PARVEEN KARJIKER

HARSHA KOTTHAPALLI

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