Graduation is a day that is undoubtedly nerve-wracking. Falling over on stage, collecting the wrong diploma and being late for the ceremony are all scenarios that commonly play out in the minds of soon-to-be graduates. Not forgetting that our 2014 Graduation Ceremony was held on Friday 13th June, it’s easy to see why a few of our MBA Class of 2014 were more than a little nervous come the morning. As is usually the case, however, these fears were proven totally unfounded last Friday as our MBA Class of 2014 graduated without a hitch and with plenty of sunshine.
The day started early, with a welcome lunch buffet and cocktail held in the MBA building on campus. This was more than mere ceremony, as this the graduating class was the first to have their classes based in the newly designed building which opened September 2012, coinciding with the launch of the new curriculum. Indeed, this was a class of firsts: the first run for the new curriculum, the first appearance of the HEC Zebra at MBAT and the first Saint-Cyr seminar that resembled Noah’s Ark more than a mere field exercise.
For many of our graduating class, the graduation was a chance to be reunited with classmates for the first time since classes ended last December. A lot can change in 6 months; jobs have been found, promotions have been earned and babies have been born, and so the buffet was a perfect chance for students, friends and families to catch up before the formalities got underway.
The MBA ceremony was a nostalgic affair, with the Associate Dean of the MBA Program at HEC Paris Bernard Garrette, setting out to present the first ever “virtual” graduation ceremony via webcam in keeping with the presentation’s ‘Digital Transformation’ theme. He soon emerged on stage, however, reliving the highs and lows of the Class of 2014 before introducing the Class Patron and Chief Development Officer at Capgemini Group, Pierre-Yves Cros (HEC Paris MBA Class of 1984) to the stage. Cros spoke succinctly, sharing his secrets for success with the graduating class and advising them to listen to nothing but their own instinct: “If I had listened to my parents, my friends, my teachers… I would not be where I am today.”
With this advice in mind, our students were ready to collect their diplomas, making the transformation from HEC Paris MBA Students to HEC Paris MBA Alumni. Following the presentation of the Academic Awards to the students with the highest GPAs, each student was called up individually to collect their diploma on stage, to a chorus of applause and the occasionally shout of encouragement from the audience.
A class photo soon followed – including the obligatory “cap in the air” shot – as well as the grand ceremony for all graduates from every program at HEC Paris. Here they were addressed by the Dean of HEC Paris, Bernard Ramanantsoa and his distinguished guests, with the announcement of the Dean’s List 2014 celebrating the best and brightest from across the school, both in terms of leadership development and academic quality. Included on this list were MBA students Hamassala David Dicko, Malik Baudry, Julie Haspeslagh, Impreet Natt, Emilie Flanagan, Ashley Bienvenu, Jodi Neuman, Thomas Philbeck, Subajan Sivandran and Mark Thomas – Congratulations!
So with the end of the ceremony (and one final dance) came the end of the MBA at HEC Paris for our graduates. After a day charged with nostalgia, congratulations and goodbyes, feelings were decidedly mixed. Yamini Naik summed up the feelings of the class well; “I’m kind of both happy and sad about leaving HEC Paris. It’s been an amazing experience, but now after nearly 2 years I am ready to move on and I am excited about the future!”
Of course, this isn’t a goodbye for our graduates; as they now go on to play an important role as HEC Alumni within our global 50,000-strong network. While their role within the school may have changed, it is by no means diminished.
Best of luck to our graduates, stay in touch!
For more on this year’s Graduation ceremonies at HEC Paris, check out our storify here and listen to our SoundCloud below.