Archive for April 2015

29 April 2015

The annual off campus leadership seminar at Saint-Cyr Military Academy is often a highlight for MBA participants. This year, the Class of 2016 (both Full-time and Part-time participants) headed to Brittany to participate in and lead a series of field exercises under the supervision of French army officers.

Day 1

On the first day, the MBA participants travelled by bus from HEC Paris to Saint-Cyr and upon arrival were greeted by the various French officers in charge of the seminar. The military officers gave an overview of the program and explained the rules and regulations.


The students were then divided into teams of 12 and assigned an army officer. Army uniforms were distributed along with the rations that they would need for the following day.

St Cyr 2015- HEC Paris MBA (3)

Day 2

Rise and shine; early morning wakeup call at 6 am. Following a quick breakfast, the teams split up and started a series of warm-up exercises. Whether manoeuvring a series of boards to get a team across an imaginary mine field or using ropes to walk across a v-shaped metal beam, the participants took turns leading their group through the exercises.

St Cyr 2015- HEC Paris MBA (21)

The afternoon activities continued with an even more daunting list of challenges.

Bridge: Build a bridge made of wood logs and rope to lead a team across a lake


Fort: Use a set of materials to traverse a fort and rescue an injured colleague


Raft: Construct a raft out of floats and rope and figure out how to get a team across a lake in the most efficient manner


Tunnel: Lead a team through a dark underground passage while remaining calm and collective

At the end of each exercise, the group shared their thoughts on how the activity went, if the goal was accomplished and how the group leader performed. These periods of reflection allowed the students to properly see not only how they lead a team but also how they work with others in high pressure situations and under tight deadlines.

Day 3

Another early wake up call. The bus left the Saint-Cyr Quotquidan campus and headed towards the Brittany coast. Destination: Fort de Penthievre on the Quiberon peninsula. While the 2nd day concentrated solely on group activities, this 3rd day combined both group activities and individual exercises.

Walking across a tightrope above a rocky cliff? Zip-lining with a view of the Atlantic Ocean? Working as a team to climb up an inverted wall? Check, check and check!

St Cyr 2015- HEC Paris MBA (84)

St Cyr 2015- HEC Paris MBA (57)

St Cyr 2015- HEC Paris MBA (63)

The business and military spheres require many similar qualities: leadership, decisiveness, commitment, and self-knowledge, to name but a few. These activities challenged the student’s physical and mental toughness and prepared them to tackle obstacles they previously would never have imagined. Starting a new project or learning a new skill requires the same sort of mind-set. Motivating someone to cross a high beam is not so different from encouraging a team to complete a project that has been confronted with various hurdles.

Participants in previous years have described the experience as unforgettable, as marking a real change in their educational and professional development, a sentiment echoed by Xavier Boute, who is both an officer in the French army and an affiliate professor in Economics at HEC Paris.

– “When students say what they remember from their MBA, they remember two things: one of them is always this seminar […] Because there is a clear before and after.”


Listen to what some MBA students have to say about their experience on SoundCloud:

Additional reading:

The L Word by Timo Marquez (MBA.16)

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01 April 2015

Wonder what it’s like in the shoes of an HEC Paris MBA student? In the newest Student Voices blog, we have MBA student Meaghan Kappel take us through a typical day of life on campus.



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I love this sunny café on campus. I often grab a coffee here in the morning or eat lunch here, and spend time between classes and meetings catching up on emails, readings, and homework.


Group Work

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This was part of a class exercise for our Organizational Behavior class. We worked in groups of 5 on a simulation business game. The challenge was change management. Here our team celebrates an increase in employee buy-in (it’s the small things that matter!). This type of group work and interactive learning is such an integral part of the academic environment.


Study Room

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I spent my lunch hour working with classmates on a career exercise called “Match Yourself to the Market”. Here we were helping a Venezuelan student plan a checklist for how to assess company culture in his job search.


MBA Council Meeting

mba council (49)

Here, we are meeting to discuss our communication newsletter and upcoming culture weeks.

As President of the MBA Student Council, I lead a team of 16 fellow students. Despite our busy schedules, we try to meet about once a month to share updates on everything from events to finances and professional club competitions. It’s been one of my most rewarding MBA experiences to date, a real opportunity to test my own leadership skills. It’s also been very humbling to see what I can do to improve before re-launching my professional career.



A Mexican friend was celebrating his birthday and a group of us decided to grab pizza at our favorite Italian restaurant just off-campus. Great way to unwind over a glass of wine and laughter!


Meaghan Kappel, HEC Paris MBA, Class of 2016

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

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