Archive for February 2017

27 February 2017

We sheepishly admit it: It is satisfying to be the best. We are referring to the Times Higher Education Alma Mater Index, the prestigious annual ranking that reveals the academic backgrounds of the world’s top chief executives. The January 2017 edition names HEC Paris as the top business school in Europe for educating the CEOs of Fortune Global 500 companies.

Here’s the breakdown of the world’s 10 leading educational institutions, showing the number of degrees they awarded to chief executives and their companies’ combined revenues:

Graph courtesy of the Times Higher Education Alma Mater Index

Graph courtesy of the Times Higher Education Alma Mater Index

To celebrate the ongoing power of the HEC Paris MBA to forge leaders, we decided to expand on the results of the Alma Mater Index and create our own list. The following highlights just a few HEC Paris MBA graduates who are currently working worldwide as chief executives. With nearly 4,000 HEC Paris alumni who are CEOs, CFOs or have founded their own companies, this list is far from complete. Think of it as a small sampling of the impact HEC Paris MBA graduates are having on the future of business worldwide.

To learn more about these and other alumni, visit the careers section of our website.

Banking and Finance

Pascal Cagni was the guest speaker at an Afterwork Drinks reception in Paris; Photo courtesy Matthieu Marquenet (MBA '13)

Pascal Cagni was recently the guest speaker at an Afterwork Drinks reception organized by alumni in Paris. Photo courtesy of Matthieu Marquenet (MBA ’13)

Pascal Cagni, MBA ’86
CEO, C4 Ventures

Pascal Cagni’s career trajectory is the stuff of business legend. An encounter with Steve Jobs on the Big Island of Hawaii (where the Apple cofounder was celebrating his 45th birthday) ended with Pascal accepting the position of General Manager and Vice President of Apple Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). Under his 12-year tenure, Apple’s EMEA revenue increased from $1.3 billion in 2000 to nearly $40 billion in 2012. In 2014, Pascal founded C4 Ventures, a venture capital fund which invests in European startups and companies wanting to enter European markets.

Olivier Combastet, MBA ’86
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Pergam Finance

Sixteen years after it was founded, Pergam Finance manages assets valued at an estimated € 800 million. Under Olivier Combastet’s guidance, the company has earned a reputation for finding atypical investments for its customers. From railroad wagons to arable land in Uruguay to undeveloped real estate in the US, it’s been said that the former triathlete has a knack for finding investments not yet on the radars of other asset management companies.

Jean-Yves Fillion, MBA ’92
CEO, BNP Paribas USA and Head of CIB Americas

Jean-Yves Fillion started his career at BNP Paribas in 1984 as an account officer. He worked in several different departments before deciding to earn his MBA at HEC Paris in 1990. After his studies, he returned to BNP Paribas and became Vice-President of North America’s Corporate Banking Department. He was appointed CEO of BNP Paribas USA in 2012.

Energy

Emilie Flanagan, MBA ’14
Managing Director and Founder, Obi Partners Pte. Ltd.

After earning her MBA degree, Emilie Flanagan joined KPMG Singapore as a strategy consultant specialized in the Southeast Asian energy market. She left KMPG in 2015 to start her own company, Obi Partners, with the goal of decreasing the environmental impact of the palm oil industry and creating value from palm-oil waste streams. Obi now sources and structures $10-20 million transactions to develop and deploy small-scale renewable-energy infrastructure projects, such as hybrid solar and biogas power plants.

Hospitality

Ankit Gupta greets customers at the Dialogues Café in Bangalore.

Ankit Gupta greets customers at the Dialogues Café in Bangalore.

Ankit Gupta and Saurabh Priya, MBA ’16
Co-founders, Dialogues Café

After living and working in countries throughout the world, both Ankit Gupta and Saurabh Priya wanted to return to their native India to create their start-up. At Dialogues Café, patrons are charged for the time spent in the welcoming co-working space, and are provided with unlimited food and drinks–or they can choose to bring their own. Corporate level wifi, meeting spaces and a boardroom are provided, as are a wide range of books and board games. “We wanted to focus on building collaboration, and create a space where customers could meet, dream, discuss, share and execute ideas,” Saurabh explains.

Industry

Eric Olsen, MBA ’93
CEO, LafargeHolcim

Eric Olsen joined Lafarge North America in 1999, and subsequently worked in high-level positions in its finance, human resources and operations departments. When the company merged with Holcim in 2015, Eric became the CEO of the newly combined companies. At the time, the Financial Times reported that it was Eric’s international experience that caused the Board of Directors to tap him to head the group, which is the worldwide leader in the building industry.

Investment Services

Ole Rollag, MBA ’02
Managing Principal, Murano Connect

Ole Rollag started his career working as bond runner for Dean Witter. Upon graduating from the MBA, he joined Société Générale as a fund manager. In 2009, after working for big banks for nearly his entire career, Ole decided to create his own asset management consulting firm, Perfecta Partners. Murano Connect spun out of that business as an “investment dating service” connecting compatible funds with investors.

Luxury and Media

Xavier Romatet, MBA ’86
Vice President, Condé Nast International

Xavier Romatet (center) welcomes students during the Luxury Club's Trek to Paris.

Xavier Romatet (center) welcomes students during the Luxury Club’s Trek to Paris.

After completing his MBA, Xavier Romatet and fellow HEC Paris graduate Christophe Chenut (MBA ’86), created their own marketing company. In 1993, the company became part the DDB group, where Xavier served in several leadership positions, including president of Rapp Collins and the head of their French subsidiary. He stayed with DDB until 2006, when he was recruited to take the helm of Condé Nast France. His tenure as CEO included the launch of French-language versions of GQ and Vanity Fair. In January 2017, he was promoted to vice president of Condé Nast International.

Pharma

Michel Vounatsos, MBA ’90
CEO, Biogen, Inc.

He speaks six languages, runs marathons and has over 20 years of experience working for drug manufacturers in half a dozen different countries. In January 2017, Michel Vounatsos took on an even bigger challenge: leading Biogen, a Massachusetts-based biotech firm. Michel takes the helm at a critical time, when the company is delving into a new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, and considering entering markets outside of North America and Europe.

Retail

Marc Hanisch, MBA ’09
CEO, Dos Caballos

Despite its Spanish name, Dos Caballos is a German company established by MBA alumnus and world-class mountain biker Marc Hanisch. Using his own experience of powering through rough terrain on two horse power—the amount of force that most cyclists wish for while riding a racing or mountain bike—Marc is constantly testing, improving and advancing new products and trends in bike, sports and casual wear. Known for blending fashion with technical functionality, Marc compares his company’s high-end offerings to retailers like Ralph Lauren and La Martina.

Start-up

Bhavna Suresh, MBA ’16
CEO of Lamudi Philippines and MyProperty.ph

Lamudi is a leading global property portal focusing exclusively on emerging markets. It offers sellers, buyers, landlords and renters a secure and easy-to-use platform to find or list properties online. Lamudi was established in 2013 in Berlin, and is currently available in Latin America, Asia and the Middle East. Within less than three years, the company has established its presence as a key online real estate marketplace in the countries where it is operating.  

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22 February 2017

timemanagement

There is no doubt that an MBA is an incredibly time-consuming, challenging experience. The course load, homework, job searches, recruitment and extracurricular activities can leave you feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. In the end it is all worth it, but navigating your way through the process can seem a little tough at times.

That’s where time management skills come in.

I’ve always been known for taking on every project and activity possible. Currently I’m juggling many activities – I’m on the executive committee of both the annual MBA Tournament (MBAT) and the Luxury Club, trying to maintain a healthy GPA, traveling several times a month, keeping an active social calendar including hosting dinner parties and events for 20-50 people at a time, and moonlighting as a chef for Our Kitchen. Put this against the backdrop of the MBA and all the work that the academics and job-search process entails, and it makes for a very busy schedule indeed!

Often people ask me how I’m able to manage so many things and still show up to classes (most of the time). For me, it’s all about task management and planning ahead.

Here are two of my best organizational tips:

Find a Productivity Tool

Before there were such things as smartphones and apps, I used to rely – heavily – on Post-it Notes. Today, I rely on time-management applications. While virtual post-it notes are fine, I now use Google Keep which allows me to keep track of almost everything in life. It contains my to-do lists, grocery shopping lists, notes and project deadlines. I even get email notifications when deadlines are coming up.

Maria Martyak was one of the participants in the MBA's Champagne Trek.

Maria Martyak participated in the HEC Paris MBA’s Champagne Trek last fall.

Another trick of the trade is the Gmail plug-in Boomerang for Gmail – it has been a life-saver! I start and end each day planning and writing and emails. I also schedule the send time for my emails – this allows me to get through a large volume of emails, knowing they will be sent at the appropriate time for each recipient. This is especially useful for sending job applications that span different time zones, ensuring that I apply during working hours.

Achieve Balance

Being able to handle a large workload with many different projects isn’t for everyone. It’s important to find your balance and stick to it. One way I’m able to handle all these different subjects is by allowing myself downtime when I know I need it.

Take time to plan your vacation time, enjoy alone time and make sure to schedule time with friends. Often I travel on weekends, which allows me to disconnect and relax.

At the HEC Paris MBA, we are very lucky to be in such close proximity to amazing cities and countries. Exploring new places is always fascinating. These adventures have allowed me to learn about history, architecture, people, cultures and foods across a variety of countries.

Successfully juggling your MBA workload – or any workload – can be daunting, but it’s all about the balance. One of the best skills we gain from the MBA isn’t found in our core textbooks. It’s how to properly prioritize and efficiently manage our time while still maintaining that sense of balance.

Written by Maria Elena Martyak 

Mariabio

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13 February 2017

Chinese students from the HEC Paris MBA and HEC Paris recently hosted a series of events designed to introduce the entire campus community to different aspects of their culture. To kick off Chinese Cultural Week, the students celebrated the Year of the Rooster with a Temple Fair which offered activities ranging from tea-drinking and fortune telling to trying on traditional clothes and learning traditional games. The next evening at the Lantern Festival, participants shared an authentic Chinese dinner, followed by a show both organized and performed by members of the student body. From traditional and modern dances to a fashion show and music recitals, they displayed their artistic talents and united the HEC community in a fantastic celebration of culture.

The following videos offer a sampling of the week’s events. The first one features MBA students Dengke Li, Vincy Zhang and Leslie Zhu, who were among Chinese Cultural Week’s main organizers. The second includes excerpts of some of the evening performances.

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10 February 2017
Daria Jacob, Class of 2017

Daria Jacob, Class of 2017

Even though inventing a new vaccine technology might seem like the ultimate in scientific research, it left Daria Jacob unfulfilled. “I see so many researchers who have fun only doing lab work, but that’s not me,” the Russian MBA candidate explains. “I really missed communicating with people.”

It was in the middle of her post-doctorate research at Paris’ famed Institut Pasteur that Daria first sampled the business side of biomedicine. “I was leading experimental research on my vaccine project and, at the same time, trying to find funding and negotiate with investors,” she says. “That was my first experience outside of research. I realized that I am more driven by business tasks within the pharmaceutical industry. I wanted to switch to the industry side, and that led me to discover HEC.”

We asked Daria about her personal strategies for making a career pivot as a scientist, and how she’s been able to leverage the HEC Paris MBA as part of her journey.

For someone who is looking for a similar career switch, what’s your advice?

I know quite a few researchers who have transferred from pure scientific research to lab management or other business-side jobs. It’s just a question of whether to do it through an MBA. I was really interested in corporate management and strategy, and an MBA is indispensable to reach the corporate level.

Is that an easy career transition to make with an MBA?

I knew that I needed to do a fieldwork project to have some hands-on experience solving business problems.

Describe your fieldwork project.

I worked for Tecan, a highly technical company that makes automated laboratory robots. I did a 12-week project to help them understand and potentially expand into a new market. The market is very niche, very specific, and divided into very different potential applications of Tecan’s technology.

I had to perform a very complex analysis and make strategic recommendations about the best way to enter the market. I did 55 interviews with customers and specialists in the field to get different points of view and different pieces of data. That information helped me to formulate my conclusions and advise the company on which direction to go.

At the end of the project, I had to pull all my research together into a business-oriented PowerPoint presentation, something that I’d never done before in my life. I presented it to Tecan’s corporate development team, which includes the company’s CEO, CFO and the vice presidents of different departments. It was really important for them to get into the details of what I analyzed, so we ended up discussing every one of my slides for at least five minutes. It was a very interesting and dynamic interaction.

Did the MBA’s Fundamental Phase help prepare you for the fieldwork project?

The amazing thing is that everything that I learned during the core classes was applicable to my fieldwork project. Unlike many students, I don’t have a background in business. For me, most of the classes were rather new, but they were taught so deeply and efficiently that I started the fieldwork project with the feeling, ‘I do know how to do this’.

Has the MBA benefitted you in other ways?

Without the HEC Paris MBA, I would’ve never met so many people from different industries and backgrounds. People usually come to the MBA not just with a single background, and their future is not a straight line, either. We serve as examples of what the opportunities are, and what you can potentially do. What’s next for your career? I received a job offer from Tecan, which I accepted. Before the MBA, my job title was post-doctorate researcher. When I start full-time with the company in April, my title will be associate for corporate development. It’ll be a completely different job for me, in exactly the direction that I want to go.

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