Archive for May 2010

20 May 2010

François Doux

The Visions of Leadership (VoL) Week, part of the VoL Program, is structured around a series of interactive, Q&A-style conferences, workshops and lectures bringing academics, corporate and political leaders around the table, including decision making science professors from HEC and worldwide. François Doux, who joined the HEC MBA in January 2010, was a member of the VoL task force who assisted in the organization of the week. François gives us his feedback from the VoL week 2010.

To get the flavour of the “Visions of Leadership” week, a quick glance at the speakers reveals the diversity of the views. A colonel of the French Army, back from Afghanistan ; a successful CEO in search of talents ; a top executive switching career from the Muppets to the U.S. Embassy in Paris… all kind of leaders came to HEC to share their experiences with MBA participants. Colonel Durieux, Axa’s Henri de Castries and Ambassador Charles Rivkin had to give a vision to their troops, and a sense of momentum and direction. It is not so simple when it comes to being concrete. “There is a vision dilemma, explained Henri de Castriesyou have to understand the big picture, have it broad enough but also precise enough, and last, get it stable but not frozen.” The former HEC student revealed that there is something crucial he did not learn at school: guessing what is not said. “Listening is a priority for the CEO.” But before becoming a top manager, TBWA Chairman Jean-Marie Dru showed the way: “First you have to choose the path, then build yourself along it, and then charting out the way ahead.” L’Oreal Alexis Perakis-Valat showed a very pragmatic approach, built during his international career. Keep it simple, keep the long term vision, be a role model leader, boost your resilience and DARE. Other aspects of leadership were discussed through roundtables, such as Sports and Leadership, Gender Balance, Entrepreneurship and Leadership in luxury. During intense debates, participants could ask sincere questions that echoed some key questions of the 21st century. GE International CEO Nani Becalli-Falco advised us to be sensitive to the problems and the needs of society. And like all the leaders, he insisted in moving fast, in the speed of taking decision. Quite a challenge to keep in mind all these tips, to mix them with the instinct that guide any leader… at least each participant could get hints for its future career. Still, Nani Becalli-Falco gave an easy reference to remember:  we have to be the “Michelangelo of Management”: creative, always positive, and able to see the statue in the marble bloc. Let’s sculpt!

Some of VoL 2010 speakers: Nani Becalli-Falco, Colonel Duriex and Henri de Castries

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10 May 2010

Organized by HEC MBA participants, the MBAT is the largest annual gathering of international B-schools for the 3 day event. HEC MBAs test their leadership skills in a real-life setting where decisions, human relations and organization are key factors of success. Dan Harrison is 2010 General Coordinator, with Anne-Reine Lapeyre. Dan has given us his insight in to organizing such a large and monumental event.

Dan Harrison

“When I first heard about the MBAT, the first thing I thought of was how great it would be to lead a meaningful project within my MBA experience. I thought that it would be fun to work with some of my classmates whom I had just recently met on an event where we could play a few sports and have a good time. At that point, I did not realize how much of an impact this event would have on my overall MBA experience at HEC.

When the idea of running this event first entered my mind, I immediately spoke with my friend and now MBAT partner Anne to figure out how we could make this project ours and form a team we could rely on to get the job done. I learned a great deal about the importance of making the right selections for various positions not only from a job performance perspective but also to make selections both fair and transparent to the outside shareholder in this case our class. This lesson was clearly stated as the campaign to be elected as the MBAT managing team was both emotionally charged and extremely competitive.

Anne-Reine Lapeyre

Now on the eve of MBAT we are ready to see all the hard work that everyone has done come to fruition. Everyone will be able to experience the pride of showing what the HEC MBA entails and the great results that are achievable when people are motivated to work hard. But more than just the outcome, I know that I for one will be proud of what I have learned during this experience.

People do an MBA in order to become managers or increase their management and overall business skills. To those ends, I have learned a tremendous amount during my time leading the MBAT. It has been a wonderful opportunity to take what I have learned in the classroom and be able to directly apply those lessons in a real project with real expectations and stakeholders.

I have learned the need to manage people in different ways, even if they are performing the same function. It is imperative to treat all people who are reporting to you as individuals in order to gain their respect and work effectively. This is especially true in the MBAT where people are all of equal experience and status within the class. It was a real challenge to learn how to effectively deal with everyone especially given that our core team alone represented 7 nationalities with working experience across the globe. This challenge had a very steep learning curve at times but I learned that listening is the first step to communication. Additionally, it is helpful to define your communication strategy at the beginning as it saves time later.

As the planning progressed from the core team of 22 to the current team of 200, it became very apparent that the organization had changed and I needed to change with it. While we began in a very informal way with casual discussions and meetings, as time progressed, the organization of MBAT became more bureaucratic and more structured. As this change took place, I saw that it was necessary to step back from the minor details and trust the people who were working on different departments more. This was a great example of how to trust your co-workers and how to avoid micromanagement. It has been a huge challenge in this regard to feel both engaged and supportive of the project and team, while remaining outside of the minor details unless needed as a way to allow people the ability to solve problems themselves.

The last main lesson I learned is the value of keeping the big picture in mind. While things may be tough on a certain day or certain meeting, its important to focus on why you are doing something and the value that it will bring.

As they say, nothing worthwhile is ever easy and MBAT has proven that with many difficult situations and challenges. I have had the opportunity to lead a group of leaders in a task highlighting the great aspects of the HEC MBA. I have been able to see adversity in managing real business situations and used my newly learned skills to overcome them. Most importantly of all, I have been able to learn more about my classmates and develop a stronger bond with many of them that will last a lifetime. Overall, I consider the MBAT leadership to be the most valuable experience I have had during my MBA thus far.”

To read more about this years MBAT and see which schools are visiting, please visit the MBAT website

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07 May 2010

Cultural weeks are anticipated events in the MBA due to our international profile. These weeks are really made with passion and effort since all the events are voluntarily organized well in advance and all the activities must be self-financed!

Latin Week is special… why? Because it is the perfect opportunity to share as a single community, the multiple cultural expressions that coexist among many countries! The main challenge we set up for this year was to show that beyond the good music and party spirit, Latin America is an interesting region for the global business community, still facing a lots of obstacles, but with the attitude, preparation and potential to become a new economic power.

How did we manage to give people an idea of what Latin America is? Well, in fact, we tried to be as inclusive as possible and through different activities, we were able to show a glimpse of each country:  during 4 days, students and administration had the joy to see our region thanks to the photographic exhibition held in the MBA hall where people could see astonishing images of Machu Picchu in Peru, Iguazu Falls in Argentina and the Barranquilla Carnival in Colombia.

The first night, we projected the academy award-nominee movie “Amores Perros”; and every morning onwards, people got the energy for the day thanks to the inspiring flavor of the Colombian Coffee that was complimentary served in the MBA hall.

The second night, we organized an interesting economic round-table on emerging markets where students had the opportunity to ask – off the record – as many questions as they wish to international top executives that have worked in the region. After the economic round table, we offered a wine tasting with the famous products from Chile followed by a Latin Food buffet where we all had the chance to taste the incredible empanadas from Argentina, the amazing salgados from Brazil, and the delicious patacones and refreshing tropical fruits from Colombia. People really had a great time and the event ended around midnight!

Everybody was looking forward for Wednesday night, since we were holding the “Save the beach” party sponsored by Corona Beer. All the party lovers came with their best “beach” outfit to experience one of the most remembered parties in Résidence Expansiel history. Although it was a Wednesday, the Latin spirit prevailed and we all had unforgettable moments thanks to the refreshing flavor of Spanish Sangrías, Brazilian Caipirinhas, Mexican Margaritas and Cuban Mojitos.

For the final day, we prepared a “gala dinner” among some Latin cultural expressions: The menu included entrees from Peru, Italy and Romania and the main dish from Mexico. Among the activities we had that night, we were surprised with the strength of Alix-Lek who won the “jalapeno” contest, eating more than 10 of the spiciest chilies, or the hidden talent of Nicolas and Pamela who gave a lesson on singing techniques at the karaoke event. The jury decided to declared “out of competition” the performance of Fumihiko which had been practicing “La Bamba” since he was 8… Not to mention the skills of Will who dare to sing “rancheras” along 3 professional mariachis and the lovely performance of “Marinera” done by Peruvian kids. What a night!

Thanks HEC for the remarkable Latin Week we had in 2010, more than 150 people enjoyed all the events and we hope next year will be even bigger and better!

Juan Diego Rojas, HEC MBA Participant September 2009

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06 May 2010

The Social and Sustainable Business Conference is a particpant led two day international conference that brings together key corporate, not-for-profit and government decision makers, forefront philanthropists and the next generation of leaders from the international business school community: Resource Cultivation, Poverty Reduction and the Power of Consumers are key issues addressed.

We’ve asked September 2009 participant Christine Shepherd, about the 2010 conference:

With an organizing team of just around 15 students, planning for this year’s Social and Sustainable Business Conference (SSBC), which will take place on HEC’s campus, the 28 and 29 of May, is moving around the clock. Working since last November, our team has conceived a conference based on the theme, “The Challenge: Change, Measure, Sustain.” We evaluated the most pressing challenges facing our world today – a volatile financial system, rapidly changing climate, and growing imbalance in global resource distribution – and decided to structure our conference around these challenges, focusing on how to overcome them. By gathering a variety of speakers and expert panelists around these themes, we hope to spur discussion about how businesses, individuals, and organizations can respond to these challenges in a way that supports a sustainable and prosperous world for generations to come.

Now with the conference just one month away, as we are busy finalizing speakers, building awareness – through website and video – and mobilizing our own class to help, we are beginning to see the fruits of our labor. Our keynote line up on Friday, May 28, includes Clara Gaymard of GE France, Ben Verwaayen, CEO of Alcatel Lucent and Pamela Hartigan, Director of the Skoll Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University. On day two, we’ll hear from Scott Beale of Atlas Service Corps, Simon Pickard of EABIS and Tim Turner of the African Development Bank. In between all of our key note speakers, we have organized a smattering of really interesting panels from “Social Investing” to “Resensing the Refined: The Look of Luxury in a Sustainable World” to “The Making of Generation Z: Profitable Education in a Youtubed World.” To give our conference goers that much needed networking, debriefing and down time, each day will have a blend of coffee breaks, lunch breaks and cocktail hours.

We hope that people come to this year’s HEC SSBC and not only walk away more informed about the topics discussed but more connected to a like minded community as well.

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06 May 2010

As part of the Leadership program, HEC MBA participants visit the St Cyr Military Academy for the Situational Leadership Seminar. The exercise permits participants to build their team leadership and group dynamics under the supervision of army officers, with the support of organizational behavior experts.

Yueyao Jin, September 2009 intake, tells us about her experience at St Cyr.

St Cyr was one of the most rewarding experiences for me at HEC. Working with army officers is indeed an eye-opening experience for leadership training. After this seminar, I know more about myself, my strengths and my weaknesses. I didn’t realize that I was unable to control myself when confronted with a fear of heights, but at St Cyr I learnt the art of control.

The highlight of this trip was when I was unable to carry on an exercise and army officer, Cyril, helped me fight against my fear of heights. My fellow group members completed the exercise smoothly. Cyril knew my feelings and he took me to do a training exercise which I wouldn’t have done by myself. He kept encouraging me, talking to me to distract my fear and it was a success. My group were very happy to see me successfully complete that particular exercise.

In another exercise, I was assigned as leader. The task was to climb a ladder with large gap between each step. This was much difficult and scary than you might think. There was no support. We needed to support each other. Team work was the key element, as well as good planning and control of fear. Trusting each other helped us climb up step by step. Since I was the leader, in no case I should give up. My team members were aware of my fear and they were exceptionally supportive. I felt a strong team.

This experience taught me multiple leadership skills, such as communication, human resource, task planning, etc, through various exercises as building a bridge, a boat, crossing the river, etc. In real life management experience, I will know how to start a task, how to distribute work across team and how to follow up efficiently. I believe these are all very important elements for high performance.

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