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
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 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.
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.
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.
Eric Olsen, MBA ’93
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.