Archive for ‘events’

20 March 2017

watercolor map of world

In front of a filled-to-capacity classroom, Othmane Khelil is describing the start of the Arab Spring. “After Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire, the people of Tunisia moved to a clear message: ‘We want freedom, we want dignity’,” he says, switching from a photo of the emblematic Tunisian vegetable seller to one of a massive street demonstration.

What is most interesting about this presentation isn’t the vivid images, or Othmane’s impassioned insights into the Arab Spring’s impact on Tunisia up until the present day. Instead, it’s the fact that as an MBA student from Tunisia, Othmane is speaking firsthand about events that rocked his homeland.

Using students as a powerful source of information about their own countries is the crux of a new speaker series organized by the HEC Paris MBA’s International Affairs Society (IAS). The brown-bag sessions, held Tuesdays at lunchtime, allow students to learn about geopolitical issues from their peers while sampling a traditional dish from whichever region or country is being discussed (in Othmane’s case, a spicy Shakshuka).

Two HEC Paris MBA students discuss India-Pakistan relations

Jawwad Ali Syed and Siddarth Gurnani discuss India-Pakistan relations.

Started in January, the weekly sessions are a big hit with our 92 percent international class. As an entirely student-led initiative, they are free (except for those who order a meal), and cover subjects suggested by MBA students themselves. Every Tuesday brings a hard-hitting new topic—recent ones included the French presidential election, the Venezuelan oil crisis and India-Pakistan relations.

“These talks perfectly complement the business side of the education that we receive at HEC Paris,” Othmane explains. “They analyze the geopolitical contexts that affect business and market dynamics.”

As a member of the IAS core team, Yee Theng Ng, MBA ’18, finds such interactions offer more value to MBA participants than bringing in outside speakers (though the IAS still does for formal evening events). The big advantage she sees is that students are more likely to dedicate a lunch hour to learning if they know the speaker. She also says that students ask questions more freely. “We know each other by nationality,” she explains, “but sometimes we feel like we don’t know enough about our respective countries.”

A HEC Paris MBA student discusses events in his native Tunisia.

Othmane Khelil, MBA ’17, talks about events in his native Tunisia.

Others appreciate the opportunity to share—and correct misconceptions—about their homelands. Othmane volunteered to talk about the Arab Spring because “not many of my classmates knew that it started in Tunisia. I wanted to clarify incorrect ideas about the country’s safety and terrorism problems—problems that exist in many European countries, too—and to promote tourism in my country,” he explains. “My dad has his business in tourism, and the industry was massively affected after several attacks.”

The IAS began in 2014 as a student-led initiative within the HEC Paris MBA. Events are planned by a team of 10 to 15 MBA participants. The group’s faculty advisor, Affiliate Professor Jeremy Ghez, says, “It’s a great initiative that explores the intersections between business and geopolitics. When they interact with each other, with professionals and with diplomats, the MBA participants are better able to understand the overall business environment. In their professional careers, they will never make a decision in a political or geopolitical vacuum. Therefore, it’s crucial that they understand those dynamics.”

Along with the brown-bag series, the Society has two upcoming events on this year’s calendar. The group will invite speakers from outside the HEC community to discuss the Iranian Presidential Election in April, and One Year after Brexit in June. To learn more, follow the AIS Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/International-Affairs-Society-HEC-Paris-MBA-381184955592382/.

 

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16 March 2017

An estimated 700 people came together last Sunday to celebrate the first ever Holi Festival hosted by HEC Paris students and the town of Jouy-en-Josas. Dating back as early as the 4th Century, Holi is a Hindu festival typical to India and Nepal. Otherwise known as the “festival of colors” or the “festival of love”, it signifies the arrival of spring and the victory of good over evil. The festival has its origins in a Vishnu legend which honors the eponymous Hindu god and his follower Prahlada.

Along with sampling traditional Indian food, music and performances, participants also splashed each other with brightly colored, biodegradable powders, which signify spring and all the new hues it brings to nature. Photographer and HEC Paris MBA student Baskara Aditama was on hand to capture the spirit of the event:

 

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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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15 April 2014

“In 20 years’ time, this will be the part of your MBA that you will still be talking about”

– Professor Kevyn Yong, Saint-Cyr Leadership Seminar

If you asked any of our soon-to-be graduating class of 2014 for their 3 most cherished MBA memories, you can almost guarantee that they would mention the leadership seminar at St Cyr. Every year, our entire MBA cohort (that is to say, the September, January and Part-time intakes) eagerly pile onto buses towards the elite Saint-Cyr Military Academy in Brittany, ready for 2 days of field-based team exercises to test their leadership abilities.

But while the word “seminar” may usually bring classrooms, clipboards and complicated theories to mind, it’s safe to say that this isn’t your standard lesson in leadership. Epitomizing the “learning by doing” philosophy that is at the very heart of the MBA program at HEC Paris, Saint-Cyr is a great opportunity for our students to work with and adapt their leadership style to their peers, receiving constructive feedback on their leadership from both fellow students and military leaders alike. Students are divided into ‘teams,’ supervised by a military mentor and they are each required to lead at least one field exercise.

The exercises themselves are as varied as they are exhausting; the first day consists of team-based exercises towards a common goal – rafts were built (and consequently sunk), bridges were built and planks of wood were used as walkways over imaginary swamps, acid pools and shark-infested waters. Not only did these exercises work to test leadership, but also the skills of delegation, foresight and preparation in working towards a set goal. While maybe not as physical as the other activities, the crisis center at the end of the day proved to be a mentally exhausting and incredibly rewarding exercise, as students were put under pressure as they had to cope and adapt to a set of scenarios with strict deadlines and ever-complicating constraints.

The second day, at the beautiful Fort de Penthièvre, sought to test our students’ ability to push themselves and continue in demanding – and sometimes frightening – circumstances. With zip lines, tightropes and climbing ropes, this day was no less team-based than the previous as the groups had to work together to encourage and calm their teammates as they scaled walls and walked across walkways 20-feet above the sea. The strong bonds between participants became abundantly clear, with some displays of teamwork and courage even bringing the staff close to tears!

Feats of determination aside, perhaps the most notable thing about the seminar was the clear change in our students over the course of only two days. While at first there was perhaps a tendency for the leader to rush in and immediately begin to call the shots in an attempt to assert their authority, later exercises saw the students take a step back and contemplate what they had to get done before doing it, leading to a marked increase in efficiency and confidence.

So, do we have some newborn leaders among our ranks, the future titans of business? Oh, definitely; there are no two ways about it. Providing the perfect chance to learn by doing in picturesque surroundings with expert support and peer encouragement, Saint-Cyr is a once in a lifetime experience. Not surprising it comes top of many of our students’ lists, then.

“It’s the confidence. If I can do all this when I am frightened, I feel like I can do anything. It’s like, what was I so afraid of?”

– Srinivas Kishore, Class of 2015

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25 February 2014

Cultural Weeks are undoubtedly a highlight of the MBA calendar at HEC Paris. Providing the perfect opportunity to energize, socialize and above all organize, the cultural weeks are student-led and always prove a hit amongst students and MBA staff alike. They hold a lot of academic credit too; not only are they a lot of fun, but they also constitute a key leadership experience for our students as they lead and co-ordinate their teams to put on a week-long show for all to see.

With no less than 3 different cultural weeks taking place within the last month alone, it is safe to say that recently our schedule has been rather full. First up was a week celebrating all things Japanese, 23rd-24th January. Next was the Chinese Cultural Week – scheduled to coincide with Chinese New Year during the first week of February – followed by Latin American Week last week

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16 December 2013

They are a talented lot, our MBA students. Not only do they have some of the sharpest business minds out there, approaching and tackling complex business cases without breaking a sweat, but they also count accomplished singers, dancers, artists and musicians amongst themselves. Not bad.

Now, we would be lying if we said that we took these talents into consideration when judging an MBA application – not once has a candidate been asked to don a Sumo Suit and wrestle during an interview, nor have they ever had to perform a complex dance mat routine whilst the Admissions Jury looks on holding clipboards – but that is not to say that their talents and accomplishments go unnoticed. Indeed, the MBA Talent Show, held every year in December as a grand send-off for the graduating class, is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the MBA calendar, and this year was no exception.

L-R: Erwann Germain and les cruisers, Arthur Hennes

It opened with a classically understated dance number – think spandex, bright colors and novelty sunglasses –  and from there the energy only increased. Talents on display ranged from the traditional – Indian Bollywood-inspired dance routines, Spanish guitar solos and a beautiful vocal performance – to the completely off-the-wall-how-did-they-think-of-that routines, such as a dance mat performance that took me longer to watch than it took the student to do it, a staged wrestling match between a sumo and a lightweight, and a live art performance that had the crowd holding their breath for the final result.

L-R: Claudia Lazo Visbal, Promiti Prosun, Victor Garibay, Elena Plaksenkova, Michael Hizmi

And live performances were not all that were on offer; one of the highlights of the evening would have to be the newly-released trailer for the upcoming blockbuster release: “HEC MBA: The Final Term,” coming soon to a theater near you, starring our students and teachers in a joint-collaboration to rival even the greatest of Hollywood partnerships. It was high adrenaline, high octane stuff with bombs, gun battles and explosions left right and center. Without wanting to give too much away, let’s just say that Jouy-en-Josas looks set to rival Cannes as the film capital of France, and with Oscars season looming in the distance it would hardly be surprising if there are a few familiar faces on the red carpet next year.

The Talent Show as a whole served as testament to the strength of the friendships that are built through the MBA experience: each performance was met with whooping applause and the final act, a fitting karaoke rendition of We are the Champions, was a powerful – albeit slightly out-of-tune – tribute to the HEC Paris MBA community.

L-R: Impreet Natt, Quartet (Apeksha Deval, Nikita Khandelwal, Pritam Ghoshal, Srinivas Kishore), Apeksha Deval

The evening was rounded off with the presentation of the Leadership Awards, marking the outstanding contributions of the graduating class. The chosen winners, elected by their classmates, were presented with their awards by Bernard Garrette, the Associate Dean of HEC Paris, as they took to the stage to thank their classmates for a truly amazing and life-changing 16 months.

Of course, an event on this scale doesn’t just happen overnight. The evening – and indeed, this very blog post –  would have been nothing without the tireless work of the September 2013 intake, solely responsible for the organization and execution of such a grand-scale event; you truly provided a fitting send-off for such a brilliant class. Special thanks to Arthur Hennes, the mastermind and our compere for the evening, as well as all of the performers, hosts and backstage crew for their efforts!

Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to say another big thank you and congratulations to our graduating class; we hope that you have enjoyed your MBA experience as much as we have enjoyed sharing it with you. Good luck for your future and please stay in touch as you make the move from MBA students to part of our Alumni network: participation is mandatory.

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