Meet The HEC Paris MBA Class Of 2025

Look around a classroom. What do you see? Experience and know-how? Networks and opportunities? Guides for career success and personal happiness? Exposure to different industries, roles, and cultures?

At its core, a classroom is a daily tutorial on problems overcome and possibilities realized. At its best, it is a community that nurtures connection, learning, and growth.

You could say the community sets HEC Paris apart. Think 250 students in the MBA Class of 2025 alone. That doesn’t include 80,000 alumni hailing from 152 countries – or more than 80% of the world’s countries. In fact, the school estimates you’ll find 100 different nationalities at the school between its undergraduate and graduate programs. Long known as the ‘Cradle of leadership’, the school’s alumni include the current CEOs of AstraZeneca and Instacart – with past graduates running firms as diverse as Best Buy, Michelin, L’Oréal, Schlumberger, Biogen, BNP Paribus, Capgemini, and Danone in recent years.
One reason: leadership training is integrated into every corner of the programming. For another, the program is truly global – Just 4% of the Class of 2025 hails from France. That exposes MBA students to an array of personalities and perspectives. In the process, they gain an openness to new ideas and experiences – and the versatility to operate in environments where they are neither the majority nor the expert. In other words, HEC Paris prepares MBAs to run complex, far-flung organizations in fast-changing industries requiring diverse workforces.

When it comes to leadership, there is always the chicken-and-the-egg question: Does HEC Paris naturally attract high potentials or does the curriculum turn raw professionals into CEO material? You could say it is a combination of both – with a twist. Along with prestige and leadership prowess, HEC Paris is recognized as the school for students who hunger for change. Historically, two-thirds of its MBAs change either their industry or role after graduation – and over half move to a different country. While the Class of 2025 has already notched some impressive accomplishments, it is the ‘what’s next’ that makes this class so intriguing.

Welcome Cocktail Party


Looking back, the class has amassed expertise in a variety of areas. Take Jennifer Elie, a native of Haiti and mezzo soprano who fluently speaks three languages (and can understand two others). Before business school, she worked as a senior chemist for L’Oréal USA. More than mixing chemicals, Elle executed a strategy to expand the firm’s offerings to fit the identities of a larger market.

“I have had various projects to expand the product offerings for more diverse consumers, whether the product was foundations, highlighters, or hair color for dark bases,” Elie explains. “From a product POV, this really demonstrates the commitment to inclusivity from these brands to include all skin tones, hair textures and levels. Being able to reinforce the portfolios with products that are more inclusive is really a prideful feeling for me.”

Minh Phuong Hoang left her mark in brand management, most recently with MAGGI, Nestle Vietnam. Here, she focused on being an e-Business champion and product commercial lead. With the former, Hoang oversaw the customer experience at all touchpoints. With the latter, she managed a 30-member team and shepherded a soya sauce into a $100-million-dollar market. Before that, she managed to boost an up-and-coming food company’s eCommerce sales by 400% in six months. However, she believes her biggest achievement happened last summer. Knowing she was leaving for HEC Paris, Hoang trained top leadership from MAGGI’s teams and agencies on the in’s-and-out’s Nestle’s CRM operations and strategy, a coda that cemented her groundbreaking legacy.

“This story is reminiscent of the real-life tale of David vs. Goliath,” Hoang adds. “Despite being a young girl with passion, I have been able to overcome old-fashioned prejudices and power dynamics by taking action to drive initiatives forward. All these experiences have profoundly inspired me to pursue digital innovation and contribute to the broader transformation of businesses.”


In Thailand, Ekanat Boonlue also made his name in the eCommerce space. When COVID hit, he knew Shopee Thailand needed to pivot to the online market. However, he also recognized that three incumbents enjoyed significant advantages over Shopee. While he was involved in designing the firm’s entry strategy, he became responsible for the online rollout – and a 10-person team – after his manager departed. Despite a tight deadline and limited exposure to launching an e-Commerce platform, Boonlue made it all happen.

“I scaled up the team from 10 to 20 people, acquired more assortments, and built partnerships with offline supermarkets. My team executed the plan successfully and managed to grow the supermarket category profit by 60% within 3 months, from €1.3 to 2 million. This challenge pushed me to learn and gave me confidence to be resilient in the future.”

When Namit Agarwal wasn’t performing Bollywood numbers in flash mobs, he worked in investment banking for JP Morgan Chase. Previously, working in a private bank, he cut turnaround time from 25 minutes to 5 minutes for issuing bank guarantees. As a financial analyst, Mattia Ghisalberti organized an effort that saved 15-20 people from being laid off, balancing “profit and purpose” in response to supply chain disruptions from COVID, Xinru Li created an action plan for CHANEL that saved millions of dollars from being lost.

“As a business planner and product forecaster, I was able to closely monitor the internal and external trends to adjust the forecast promptly so as to trigger the global production as soon as possible,” she explains. “In addition, for the ones with production issue, I made it to figure out the contingency plan in partnership with cross-functional teams to shift business across categories or products, and also coordinated with regional supply teams to execute the stock transfer between markets in order to mitigate the business loss in China Market.”

2023 MBA Graduation


Strategy, sales, finance, operations – entrepreneurship makes you an expert in each of them. Not surprisingly, the Class of 2025 is flush with startup experience. In Peru, Juan Ayma, who boxes as a hobby, launched a consulting firm that supported over 50 entrepreneurs and impacted nearly a million people. Wangari Muchau developed household cleaning products that eventually reached an 8% market share in Kenyan stores. In Africa, Duby Ezegbu started the first hotel micro-stay bookings platform. In the process, he says, he learned the “essentials of product design, software development, product marketing, legal, cybersecurity and compliance.” While the venture ultimately fizzled, he came away with something unexpected – a new passion!

“I’m now looking forward to birthing the kind of hotels the world truly needs – curated vibrant cultural hotels,” writes Ezegbu, whose HEC Paris routine includes a 5K run, mass, and nighttime exploration.

The Class of 2025 may be comprised of nearly 50 nationalities, but such diversity isn’t the only reason why HEC Paris is considered a juggernaut for global business education. In the latest Financial Times ranking, the school ranked 2nd for International Course Experience, which is based on in-person international exchanges and internships lasting a month or more. At the same time, HEC Paris finished 5th for International Mobility, which looks at where students worked before business school and where they live three years after graduation. Indeed, the Class of 2025 has embraced diverse work environments long before business school. In many cases, their work experience has trained them to manage conflict, communicate clearly and overcome language barriers and time zone differences on their teams.

HEC Paris MBA Students


At Nestle, Minh Phuong Hoang was accustomed to teaming up with managers in countries ranging from India to Switzerland to Canada. This gave her the advantage of “diverse perspectives and a greater pool of ideas.” For Colombia’s Luisa Arce, a research associate in an investment management firm, these big ideas were often rooted in debate. Even more, adds Namit Agarwal, being exposed to the best work practices globally enables managers to develop the right temperament to lead a team. In the end, that temperament is centered on one quality, adds Duby Ezegbu.

“Ultimately, a work environment built on the foundation of empathy maximizes creativity, innovation, and productivity the most,” he writes. “Understandably, empathy doesn’t come naturally to everyone, which is why it’s a critical interpersonal skill one must imbibe and a conscious choice one must make. Empathy enables teamwork and collaboration. It allows us to foster a healthy environment where people can work well with one another to the best of their abilities despite their differences in upbringing, thought, ethnicity, religion, and many more. It allows us to tolerate the existence of opinions, behaviors, and actions which we vehemently dislike or disagree with. Having varying perspectives from people with a common goal is highly crucial to solving challenges and producing the desired results.”

Factoring in these differences isn’t just critical in managing people, but also in customizing strategy, a lesson Ekanat Boonlue learned the hard way. “The way Shopee runs its online supermarket business is significantly different in each country based on local behavior and environment. We have tried to apply some commercial strategies that successfully work in Thailand to Indonesia, but the result totally failed. After that, we re-assessed the strategy and then adapted some key actions based on local buying behavior and combined new marketing features. Eventually, we can successfully run the strategy and get good results. This case reflects that if I have a broad global experience, I will be able to foresee the failure and prepare a better plan.”

Next Page: Outdoor Leadership Seminar, MBAT, and Paris

Page 3: An Interview with Associate Dean Brad Harris and Profiles of 12 MBA Students

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