Gilles Dard decided to pursue his MBA at HEC Paris after having studied and worked in the US. Shortly after his degree, he joined Merrill Lynch Wealth Management where he is now President of Continental Europe.
Just before starting the MBA in Paris, I was working for a Management Consulting group in New York City for 4 years. Then, I decided to move back from New York to France and join the MBA at HEC Paris.
Right after the MBA program, I joined a private equity house and then joined Merrill Lynch Wealth Management as I saw an opportunity in that industry, especially in Europe and France, compared to America and the Anglo-Saxon world. Since then I’ve stayed in the group and am now running Europe for the Wealth Management arm of Merrill Lynch.
The decision to follow an MBA came during an engagement with one of the partners. His comment was to not underestimate that experience disappears whereas education stays. What he meant by that was if you go to HEC Paris MBA, even 20 years down the road, that landmark in your career will stay, whereas if you learned how to program cobble as a child, that disappears as that language is of no use anymore. This is what really prompted me to value education.
I had a bit of international experience prior to my MBA, where I was working for this management consulting firm in New York. Now that I am running continental Europe, with Russian, Turkish, Spanish and French operations, the MBA at HEC Paris helped me very much understand, digest and pay attention to the differences in culture, especially on how you convey messages, the notion of time, etc. That part of the MBA was very useful.
Of course I have many memorable experiences from my time on campus. Most importantly, one that really struck me was the whole notion of change and change management. How someone can adapt to changes and take changes. I vividly remember being in class and listening to a course and questioning how this can help me in the future. I’m not learning a new technique on discounted cash flows, swot analysis, or any statistical framework. Actually, that notion of change, I refer to very often. It’s fundamental in the world we live in. Change is the constant and the new norm.
It’s difficult to pinpoint a specific benefit I got from Alumni, but I know the goodwill is there and if I want to reach out to foreign markets, I can always leverage the network very easily. The beauty of the MBA program is that it not only gives you the network of the MBA but also of the entire school. I think, down the road in a career, whether you meet a former student from the Masters program or the MBA, the fact that we all spent time in Jouy-en-Josas creates a bonding effect.