Archive for December 2014

27 December 2014

Giovanna Santaniello is the former Women in Leadership Club President, and recipient of the Forté Foundation Scholarship. The HEC Paris MBA Program awards this scholarship to exceptional women who have demonstrated exemplary leadership skills, and a commitment to women via personal mentorship or community involvement. The aim of the scholarships is to improve leadership opportunities for women in business.


“I have always considered women’s economic empowerment as a driving force for the achievement of not only gender equality, but also of overall economic growth and poverty reduction. Before joining the HEC Paris MBA Program, I worked in Egypt for four years, where I put my expertise in the areas of financial and advisory services to use in supporting companies and female entrepreneurs.


At HEC Paris I started consider gender diversity from a new perspective. This time, it was focused on business and leadership rather than on women’s empowerment as a means for development. Receiving the Forté Foundation scholarship has encouraged me to continue to contribute to the efforts of the organization to improve leadership opportunities for women in business. I’m convinced that, at a business level, diversity is a critical factor in improving not just the quality of a company’s leadership and decision making, but also its overall financial, environmental, social, and governance performance, and ultimately, the company’s sustainability.


In my future career in the corporate world, I will aim to balance the current emphasis on short-term profit maximization with a broader focus on long-term sustainability goals. Being part of the Forté Foundation’s network of current and prospective women business leaders will help me to achieve these goals.”


Giovanna Santaniello, HEC Paris MBA, Class of 2015

What is it like to be a student at HEC Paris MBA? Student Voices is a student contributed section where current students share their first-hand experiences of life on campus and beyond.

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19 December 2014

For even the most seasoned traveler, relocating to a new country to study can be daunting, but moving abroad to be with your partner can present a whole host of different challenges. It was with these challenges in mind that the HEC Paris MBA Partners’ Club was set up, providing an instant network of friends, activities, and resources to help partners and children in their transition into life on campus and in France.


The Club not only helps partners acclimatize to HEC Paris life, they want to make sure that the partners make the most of their time spent in France. By organizing regular meals, social events, and trips, this informal network provides a way for MBA partners to share interests and explore everything that Jouy-en-Josas, Versailles, and Paris have to offer.

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11 December 2014

As recent President of the General Management & Leadership Club, Vijay Tirumala (MBA.2015) has played an active role in helping develop his fellow students’ leadership skills by organizing various seminars, workshops and guest speakers. One of the highlights of the club is the CEO Speaker Series where some of Europe’s most influential leaders come to the HEC campus to talk with current students about their leadership experience.

In addition to this event, the club President interviews the CEO 1-on-1 and asks pointed questions about their views on leadership. This fall, Vijay got the opportunity to sit down with the Chairman and CEO of L’Oréal, Jean-Paul Agon. Below, he answers what it was like organizing the CEO Series event and meeting with such a prominent business figure.

 Cf de Jean-Paul Agon -HecParis2014


Why did you decide to preside over the General Management & Leadership club?

The General Management & Leadership club at HEC Paris provides members with an excellent forum and platform to discuss the Art of Leadership in Business and Society. Most of the club members, including myself, are drawn to the objective of providing inspired leadership. By presiding over the GML Club, I wanted to focus the club activities by organizing events such as Leadership workshops and simulations that ideally compliment the St. Cyr Off-Campus Leadership Seminar.

More importantly, the opportunity to work closely with Dean Bernard Garrette and Virginia Sartoretti at the Career Management Center taught me and my colleague, Dominic Taylor – Vice President (GML), the importance of effectively managing time, resources, and building successful alliances across campus.

How was it organizing the CEO Series event featuring Jean-Paul Agon?

It was as exciting as it was challenging. Exciting because as the CEO of L’Oreal, Jean-Paul Agon needs no introduction, least of all at HEC Paris – his alma mater. He was kind to spend the evening and share his experiences and Leadership journey with us.

Challenging because we had to pool together all the resources available at HEC Paris to organize the event. Usually, CEO Speaker Series attendees are between 200 – 300. For Jean-Paul Agon, we had 700+ interested attendees in a short-span of 1 hour. We reserved three large auditoria on campus just to meet the demand and telecast the event on screens for those who couldn’t find seats in the main auditorium. Handling the logistics was a feat in itself and three cheers to the HEC Logistics team for quickly adapting to our changing demands at short notice.

What was it like being able to sit down 1-on-1 with the CEO of L’Oréal?

Incredible. I had the opportunity to spend 15 minutes with him 1-on-1 to learn about what constitutes Leadership from his personal point of view. You will see from his responses in the video below that Leadership is also a calling and aspiration alone is not enough. One needs to find the source of strength within oneself to sustain the lifelong journey along a challenging path not unlike a roller coaster.

 How do you think this experience will help you in your future career?

As an engaged member of the HEC Paris community, Jean-Paul Agon clearly set a high bar for all of us to aspire to. Observing the way Mr. Agon conducted himself throughout the event and the way he engaged every single member of HEC’s reception team before and after the event, spoke volumes about his commitment to the school and the community. But if there is one takeaway for my future career, it would be the courage Jean-Paul Agon summoned to lead L’Oreal Americas in the immediate aftermath of September 11, 2001.


Watch the entire interview with Jean-Paul Agon below:

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08 December 2014

With 90% of our MBA student body coming from outside of France, HEC Paris MBA is a truly international scene. The tremendous range of nationalities and backgrounds makes the MBA an exciting and enriching experience, but the benefits aren’t just limited to the classroom. The student-led cultural weeks are always highly anticipated here on campus, giving students and staff alike a week-long immersion into the cultures, traditions, and cuisines of their peers.

With 2 consecutive cultural weeks, November was a particularly busy month. The Brits were first up, kicking off the festivities with a beautifully presented High Tea.  For Sitanshu Shekhar, organizing the cultural week was a perfect opportunity to shake Britain’s reputation for terrible cuisine, and the chance to offer something a little more unique: “Instead of the usual dinner, the high tea was all about sophistication and elegance. Though I am not sure how successful it was in its goals, as it probably reinforced the stereotype of snobby tea drinkers.” Snobbiness aside – with champagne, cakes, scones, and a range of sandwiches on offer, the event was a resounding success. This was followed by a screening of Richard Curtis’ classic, ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ in the Piano Bar to round off the night in a truly British fashion.

British Culture Week 2 HEC Paris MBA         Photo 17-11-2014 11 01 12 am

Next came the Indian cultural week, and the chance to celebrate and showcase the richness and diversity of the Indian student body at HEC Paris MBA.  For Aastha Sharma, the week’s events were about showcasing the breadth and variety of Indian culture: “We may all look similar, share an affinity for spicy food and rock the dance floor on Thursday nights, but we also have very different cultural upbringing, from speaking different Indian languages to following different Indian customs – which in itself makes each one of us unique.”

Indian flash mob         Rangoli

A surprise Bollywood-themed flash mob in the foyer of the S building caught students unaware and generated much excitement for the events to come. First came the ‘Mela’, an Indian fair, where students had the opportunity to try a variety of Indian snacks and drinks, and buy some traditional, hand-made arts and crafts. This was proceeded by a dinner and film night in the Piano Bar. Delicious food aside, the cultural weeks serve a greater purpose – as Johan Matthai put it:  One of the biggest intangible benefits of any international MBA is the relationships you build with people from all over the world. This is even ‘truer’ for the HEC Paris MBA, as diversity is one of the elements listed by a large number of students from my cohort when choosing their school. In line with this, cultural weeks provide a unique and ideal platform to truly infuse a country’s culture into the general student body. I was delighted at the interest shown by my friends from other countries, for in between the spicy curry and the Bollywood moves; I do believe they experienced something they’d cherish for some time to come!”


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