Archive for May 2012

29 May 2012

“From an outside perspective, it may sound strange dedicate one week to French culture in a French school. Have these French MBA students gone crazy? Actually, when you are a French MBA student on campus, you feel like you could be anywhere, but in France! First of all, you are a minority. Besides, you share nice milked teas with your Indian classmates or comment the European news with your Greek and German friends. And soon, you realize that you, as a French person, are also a “foreigner” for your peers! Suddenly you are asked to talk about your country, from the current presidential campaign, to your taste – or supposed taste- for frog and snails! Here we are.  Because the HEC MBA is so international, a French week is needed to remind the French students that we are in France (!) and to share some delicious parts of our culture with our international friends.

This year, it was in March. We opened the week with a nice and typical breakfast. An opportunity for everyone to learn how to pronounce “pains au chocolat” and “croissant” while eating. Believe me, when you plan to live in France after your MBA, you need these words!

Tuesday was dedicated to “Pétanque”, which is seen by some as a sport (I figured out this day that rules exist…), by others as an art (mostly people from the South of France), and by the French MBA students as a way of life sponsored by Ricard (brand of a typical French alcohol). The event allowed the happy few to share a relaxed moment, in a friendly atmosphere.

On Wednesday, we invited a comedian for a show-lesson called “French lover for dummies”. No need to say that it was highly interesting even for some French guys – no names will be communicated.

On Thursday, thanks to our partner, Nicolas –a French wine retailer -, we were able to propose a cheese and wine tasting. Delicious time and for many a first step towards the dangerous road of cheese addiction. To conclude this week, a Gala event took place with a French diner, a show put on by some students, a quiz, and “un petit air d’accordéon”. Students, teachers, staff, spouses, kids, everybody was there for an amazing French night. French week on HEC campus? “Avec plaisir”.

Laetitia Rossille, Class of 2013

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22 May 2012

HEC MBA participants produced this years MBAT video – completely in house! This gave us the flexibility and creative latitude to do something a little different from previous years. It was a combination of three things that were drivers for the final product. We wanted to showcase the athletic talents of some of our MBAT student participants, provide a foretaste of the competitive nature of the actual sports tournament, and finally use the videogenic Paris as a stunning backdrop. We were literally running around the city, shooting in front of some of the most recognizable monuments in the world. It was definitely the most exciting MBAT project and every student involved, right from the actors and directors to the editors and costume people, had a really good time making the video. With participants from the top European business schools, The MBAT is the only event of its kind; growing in scale and popularity, the video will be a great way to advertise this years tournament and in further years to come.

Click here to see the video on the HEC Paris YouTube Channel!

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16 May 2012

“It was a dark rainy October evening and I was sitting in my office when … OK, just kidding, I don’t remember anymore what was the weather and where I was at the moment when I received the SOS message from the Sustainable Business Conference team saying “We need a track leader for Infrastructure and Mobility track”; one of the 3 tracks of the conference.
What I do remember very well is that I immediately sat down and wrote back to the organizers … “Guys count me in!”. My motivation was simple. Firstly sustainability is a topic that interests me a lot, secondly I am originally a civil engineer that likes architecture and a city person interested in future city development and lastly I couldn’t miss the opportunity to participate in a project managed by an Italian ;). And as we had only few months to prepare the conference and the classes in core 1 just became to be very demanding, the SBC was really a very dynamic experience.
The format of the conference was 3 panel discussion for each of the 3 tracks through-out the day and the topics we chose for Infrastructure and Mobility track were first “Sustainable City planning” with the aim to bring examples of Sustainable projects from all round the world, second “Future of mobility” tackling the most pressing issue of today – cities ruled by cars, and finally “Financing Sustainable projects” with an aim to show where funding of such projects can come from.
Organizing a conference is a very particular activity as it is very important to get some good speakers as soon as possible to attract other speakers, good moderators and sponsors. Therefore our goal was to do as much as possible before Christmas and that was the moment when I started to realized how difficult was to manage a team composed of busy volunteers. It was a time of many academic commitments, including preparation for exams, numerous assignments and internship applications, and it was difficult to continuously monitor priorities and keep pushing the team to deliver the expected work for the conference. Fortunately enough we soon had newly motivated team members from January intake joining us.
With the freshly reinforced team, we needed to speed up with preparation, finalize the speakers list, and work with marketing team to promote the conference or logistics team to arrange everything for the conference day.

Then finally 22nd March came and all what we were preparing went live and I think I can say that the 9th issue of the HEC Sustainable Conference was a true success! To conclude, I have really enjoyed preparing it and working with such a great team of people and recommend this experience to all future HEC MBA students.”

Tomas Drasar, HEC Class of 2013

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14 May 2012

“One of the highlights about the HEC MBA experience is the Leadership Seminar at The École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr (Special Military School of Saint-Cyr). This 2 day event is designed to challenge the MBA participants mentally and physically as they work on their leadership skills through individual and team activities. The Leadership Seminar is conducted and lead by representatives of the French Armed Forces.

The Team Challenges

The objective of the team challenges is to develop our the individual leadership ability of the participants while leveraging off their inherent capabilities. Every participant was assigned a leader for each of the various challenges. The role included general coordination of the team to deliver against the objective of the task. At the end of the task – the team members as well as the Military supervisor would take turns providing feedback to the participant.

We all learnt a few things about our leadership styles, and most importantly we received feedback on how to be more effective in leadership roles.

Individual Challenges

Though the Individual challenges seemed to be testing physical abilities, they were actually more geared around helping the participants take on their fears. To successfully complete the tasks the participants had to motivate themselves to overcome their fears in tackling what seemed like impossible tasks.”

Nhlamulo Baloyi, Class of 2013

Read more about Nhlamulo’s experience at HEC and in France via his blog

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03 May 2012

“It was a dark evening when I received the first email from the Net Impact Club. The communication informed all the members of the incoming elections to appoint the next Sustainable Business Conference (SBC) organizing team and included the invitation to an introductory meeting.

Although I didn’t know I was a member of the Club, I decided to attend the meeting anyway: sustainable business was one of my main fields of interest, and after all, in the worst case I would have gotten a free pizza!

Well, the pizza was not super (I’m Italian, I need ultra quality pizza!!) but SBC was really exciting! I had worked for almost seven years for a managing consulting company focused on energy markets and in particular on renewable energies. I thought that SBC could represent the natural evolution of my experience in that “sustainable” sector.

Moreover, my friend Vincent was at the meeting as well: we soon decided to set up a team to participate in the SBC elections. To present a team, we had to find other three members, so we decided to involve the right people to raise the quality of the team (and also its beauty!!): Elena and Charlotte were soon on board. However, we would have had just 5 minutes to present our idea and prove our capabilities to organize an efficient fund raising to enhance the next SBC. We thus needed someone with huge analytical skills and a unique Power Point talent: Giulio was the right person. And the “Smart up” team was complete.

The next step was to decide the main idea around which to build our proposal for the next SBC. We started to meet in our rooms at Expansiel, sometimes in front of a cup of coffee, others times in front of a number of beers… and we eventually came up with the idea of “smart cities”: how our cities should change in order to face the issues created by the rising urbanization trend.

This subject is very hot in the industry now and international institutions such as the European Union are starting to support this concept, along with grants and research funds. This meant that there was business around it and so higher chances for our fund raising.

We liked this subject because it was focused enough not to be considered too generalist, but broad enough to leave room to multiple approaches. We thought that this diversity could enhance the appeal of a conference, which targets every year at least 400 students and professionals, with very different interests: from cleantech to finance to social business.

So we started to study this subject in more depth and prepared our 5 slide presentation. Eventually the elections arrived with five teams competing to take the lead of the organization and soon we discovered the first surprise: another team presented the same idea! They decided to be the first team to present, while we opted to be the last.  We were pleased to do so, as we remembered from the “Negosim” feedback that the last presentation has generally a more positive impact on the attendees.

All the teams were well prepared and had very interesting ideas, but I was confident as in these cases motivations make the difference and I had the feeling that nobody was more committed than us…

… and I was right! Well, I don’t know if we won because we produced a convincing presentation or just because we have been the last to talk… but “Smart cities, smart sustainability” was officially the title of the SBC 2012!

For reasons unknown to me, I was appointed general coordinator and our first task was to gather all the other teams around our project.

It was October 25th 2011, with less than five months to go… it seemed a mission impossible: to find 50 speakers from all around the world, some big names from the industry to attract the press and professionals, to set up an effective communication plan in order to bring 600 attendees to Jouy en Josas, to prepare the logistics… and especially to finance it!

But common, we are HEC MBA participants… no matter what, we were going to make it!!”

Sergio Portatadino, SBC President, Class of 2013

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