Archive for ‘Life at HEC Paris MBA’

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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27 July 2016
Zahid and Zaheerah with the MBAT Zebra

Zahid and Zaheerah with the MBAT Zebra


Embarking on a degree program is often a joint decision. Every year, between 15-20 percent of our students arrive with partners. Coming to HEC Paris as a couple involves more than pursuing an MBA: it means both people have to integrate into a new country and culture.

As a result, we asked Zaheerah Samrod to share her experience of joining the HEC Paris community. She and her husband Zahid Ahmed-Hassen moved from South Africa to France last winter, when Zahid became part of the school’s January 2016 intake.

What were you doing professionally before you arrived at HEC Paris?

I’m a financial accountant by profession. Prior to coming to France, I had been working for three years at a diamond mining company in Johannesburg. It was a role where I needed to interact directly with the team, so I resigned from my job to move to France.

Some people are shocked that I followed Zahid, and they say to me, “But you left everything?” Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. My previous job had asked me to stay on, and I had really amazing remuneration offers from them. It’s not even something that I’d consider, not coming here and being with Zahid.


Just another day in the capital of French culture

Just another day in the capital of French culture

Did you try to find a job once you arrived in France?

I did a bit of job searching, but in order for a South African to work in France, you need a company to sponsor your work visa. It’s not very easy because that’s a big commitment for a company to make. You can’t commit to being in France post-MBA, because you never know what role your partner is going to take when they finish their studies.

I wanted to use my time in France productively, and add a skill set to my CV. Eventually, I decided to study French full time. I enrolled at the Sorbonne, which is basically French lectures, grammar and phonetics from 9 to 5 every day.


Are you active in the Partners’ Club?

I was nominated president of the Partners’ Club, and I took on the role in January. But once I started at the Sorbonne, I found that I just didn’t have time to arrange get-togethers, so I resigned as president. But I’m still in the Facebook group, and I do attend a lot of the evening activities.


Besides living in France, how has the MBA program changed your life?

Since Zahid started the MBA, I’ve found that we’ve actually become closer as a couple. When he and I were both working, life was so intense in terms of our jobs. We didn’t get to see each other as much as we do now. We’ve never had two months of holiday, so we said, “We’re just going to travel as much as we can, and do as much as we can together over the next two months.” So far this summer we’ve traveled to Germany and Budapest. Next, we’re going to Belgium. In August, it’ll be Nice, then 10 days in Italy, Croatia and Amsterdam.


Ready for France vs. Portugal during the Euro 2016

Ready for France vs. Portugal during the Euro 2016

What advice would you give someone who is the partner of an MBA student?

Try to learn French before you arrive, and continue learning French once you’re here. It just adds so much to your experience. As a partner, you interact on a daily basis with French people whether it’s at the train station, or over the phone to sort out administrative things. If you understand just a little bit—the basics—it makes your life easier.

Make sure that you, as a partner, have a project to keep yourself busy. It could be studying, or joining a gym, or getting involved in the Partners’ Club. You may not be the one earning the MBA qualification, but you certainly have the opportunity to come out of the experience a better individual.

Socialize with the classmates—there’s a big group to socialize with, between classmates and their partners. When Zahid is invited somewhere, be it for an official event, the MBAT for example, or even if it’s something informal, just a few of his classmates meeting up, he’ll always ask me if I want to join. I’ve also started trying to meet with the partner of another MBA student at least once a week, to visit a museum or have a coffee.


Has your “French experience” met your expectations?

My experience has definitely met my expectations. It’s actually better than I expected it to be; I thought I would miss home more. I do miss my friends back in South Africa, and I do miss family, but with technology it’s so easy to keep in touch.

That said, I absolutely love Paris. I love living abroad. I’m a big foodie, so I love the food here. It’s like heaven, all the pastries. And Zahid and I have experienced so much together. With the Euro 2016, we watched three matches live, including the semi-final in Marseilles, and the final at the Stade de France. We also watched the Women’s Final of the French Open.

I feel like I’m growing so much. I am putting my career on hold, but despite that, I think this is the best thing that I’ve ever done.

Resources for Partners

Clubs and Events

The Partners’ Club supports all HEC Paris MBA partners in their transition to university life. Regularly scheduled outings and on-campus activities enable participants to make connections and make the most out of life in France. Visit:

Watch a webinar featuring Neha Tripathi, the club’s 2016 president:


The CEO Speakers’ Series, the MBAT, and other events sponsored by student clubs are open to partners. Partners may also contact the president of a club to see if they are eligible for membership. To learn more, visit:



French Classes

Partners are invited to attend on-campus French classes. More details, as well as a list of other classes available in the area, are provided by HEC Paris upon arrival to campus.


Non-degree Programs

The Social Business/Enterprise and Poverty Certificate is an intensive, 7-week course held on campus. Participation is based on application, and partners are welcome to apply. Visit:


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27 June 2016
Sharon Chan at the castle's doorway

Sharon Chan at the castle’s doorway

When Sharon Chan first applied to the HEC Paris MBA, she didn’t know the experience would include living in a stylish castle in the French countryside. The “Château of Montebello” as it’s known today, once belonged to the Countess of Vassart. The property was later purchased by Maurice Delaire, who gave it to his daughter as a wedding gift when she married the Count of Montebello. The Montebello family owned the castle until the 1940s, when the building and much of the surrounding forest in Jouy-en-Josas was converted into private homes and apartments.

Sharon shares a few insights into castle life:

How to Rent a Castle

“Back in October, when I knew that I wouldn’t be living on campus, I started looking for a place. The apartment was listed on The MBA program has Facebook group for admitted students, and I asked if anyone would like to share a duplex in a castle. I found another girl, and she found our two other housemates.

There’s seven units in the château. The four of us occupy the top floor. It’s very different than what we expected; it’s actually very modern. We have a superintendent who takes care of the building and the landscaping. My bedroom looks out on the swimming pool.”

Meet the Neighbors

“I moved in the afternoon of December 27. The next day I went downstairs to get some groceries and check out the neighborhood. I remember that I was almost through the gate when a man passed by on a horse. He was dressed in a traditional French gentleman’s riding outfit, and he said ‘Bonjour’ with the most perfect accent. That felt like my first real day in France.”

Life with Housemates

The living room

The living room

“I have three housemates who are Americans: Jess, Alison and Heather. We’re all extroverts. Heather cooks a lot and Jess bakes a lot so we always have tacos, quesadillas, cupcakes and cookies lying around. My housemates are all in the same program, so we do our homework together. We’re always talking together. Last night I had decided to use the pool, then I ended up staying inside to talk with the girls. Because we don’t live on campus, we count on each other for support. We’re really a close-knit family.

There’s also a group called the ’Burbs (short for suburbs). It used to be us and about six other people who lived near the château. There were two girls and one guy who lived about three minutes down the street from us. They used to host barbecues. Some members have moved away, but there’s still a few of us around. Aaron rented out space in one of those big houses near the swimming pool. Gabor lives below us; he sublets a room from our neighbor.

We always say that we’ll get together to do homework, but I don’t think that’s ever actually happened. We usually get together either in the château or in someone’s apartment just to talk and share a bottle of wine.”

Telling People Where She Lives

“Everyone in the MBA program has to study a language. I’m learning French, and one of the first exercises in class is to say our name, where we’re from, and where we live. I felt silly saying, ‘Je m’appelle Sharon. J’habite dans un château à Jouy-en-Josas.’ One time we had to explain what we did the night before. My response, ‘J’ai nagé dans la piscine du château de Montebello’.

I’m sure that 10 years from now, I’ll look back and say, ‘I can’t believe that I lived in a castle in France.’ But for the moment, I’m trying to sublet my room. Before I leave France, I also want to have the Parisian experience as well.”

Sharon’s Housing Advice

The Château of Montebello

The Château of Montebello

Consider a shorter-term lease. “After the Core 2 classes, you might want to try living closer to campus or in Paris to get a Parisian experience,” she explains.

Look for a furnished apartment, especially if you don’t drive. “It took us four or five IKEA trips to furnish our apartment. All of our furniture, we bought and assembled ourselves.”

Bring your favorite foods. “I can’t live without ginger ale. But really, you can get everything here in France. It just might take you a while to find it.”

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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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23 December 2013

Picking up on our Meet the MBA Team series, next in the hot seat is Michael Scott, Development Manager at HEC Paris for Europe and Latin America. Perhaps one of the more glamorous-sounding jobs in the team, Development Managers are your first point of contact with HEC Paris MBA, responsible for meeting our prospective candidates at MBA fairs around the world or through Virtual Information Sessions online. They are here to answer your questions and advise you on the next step whilst promoting our program all over the globe.

Michael first came to HEC Paris MBA in 2010, when he spent a year working in Admissions before becoming a Development Manager. This cross-departmental experience means that Michael knows our Admissions Process inside out, and is able to give our potential candidates the best possible advice.

Before coming to HEC Paris, Michael was already working in the Higher Education Sector, running business English seminars and international exchange programmes. But coming to HEC Paris still marked a complete departure for him. “Representing HEC is extremely exciting. We are the Alma Mater of CEOs in Europe and our network of alumni is extremely strong. I work in a highly networked position, supporting the work of colleagues across all the MBA departments by promoting HEC MBA internationally. I connect with and attract potential applicants from all over the world every single day.”

Indeed, it is the human aspect of Michael’s job that really motivates him day-to-day, as he meets and interviews highly talented individuals around the world, answering their questions and giving them vital pre-application support. Diversity is a key value at the heart of our program, and Michael’s position within the MBA team allows him to meet people from many different backgrounds, something which he certainly doesn’t take for granted; “International mobility is something I really value in my job. The whole world is here on campus. We have many different nationalities in the classroom: 85% international students. We go really far afield to ensure that the MBA is as diverse as possible.”

Michael in Argentina, as he works to attract and inform high-potential MBA candidates across the world

Considering his expertise and his close work with our Admissions Team, it would be rude to talk to Michael and not ask him for some advice for those considering an MBA at HEC. “I get asked this a lot! There are definitely regional trends and differences between the candidates I am meeting in different countries but in general the same advice applies to everyone. At HEC Paris, we value quality over quantity so you should apply when are in a position to submit the strongest, most competitive application possible; don’t rush anything simply to make the first round. Take your time and do the homework. Try to really express why you are going for an MBA and why HEC is your first choice of school.”

So, what’s next for Michael in his Development quest? “Over the coming months I’ll be going back to many countries I’ve visited previously, from which we have many excellent participants. I am also visiting some countries for the first time like Georgia and Bulgaria. That’s really exciting and I know already that we have great candidates waiting to meet us there.”

Thanks, Michael! Keep up the good work!

Michael’s upcoming events for January/February 2014:

  • 25th January – Paris, France
  • 27th January – Brussels, Belgium
  • 29th-31st January – London, UK
  • 3rd February – Madrid, Spain
  • 8th February – HEC Paris MBA Open Day
  • 11th February – Mexico
  • 13th February – Bogota, Colombia
  • 15th February – Kiev, Ukraine
  • 15th February – Lima, Peru
  • 17th February – Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • 18th February – Rio, Brazil
  • 21st February – Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • 22nd February – Moscow, Russia
  • 24th February – Santiago, Chile

To see our global Developmental Calendar, please click here

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28 November 2013

It’s likely that you have come across this blog after clicking on a link on our website. If you’re a frequent visitor, or if you’re particularly eagle-eyed, you may have noticed some changes; the site looks completely different for one thing, and the content has changed for another. Yes, Monday saw the launch of our brand new HEC Paris MBA website, the culmination of months of work and collaboration by the whole MBA community.

Falling in sync with our newly restructured curriculum, the site marks the latest in a series of changes in our offering at HEC Paris MBA. Our thinking behind the redesign was natural: to make our site more accessible, concise and easy to use, for all users. We wanted our visitors to feel part of the community, with the inclusion of Student Testimonies and individual Student Profiles giving you a real glimpse of life on campus and of the culture at HEC Paris MBA, as well as a dedicated ‘Faculty’ page, where you can read about each member of our teaching staff, in order to showcase the expertise that we are able to offer our students. We also wanted to give you as much information as possible, with a detailed breakdown of our Admissions Process, and of our MBA Curriculum with our Course Index, leaving you with a clear idea of the HEC Paris MBA offering and mindset.

And that’s not all that is new. Featuring prominently on our homepage, our new communications campaign features current CEOs and past HEC Paris students as they endorse the MBA experience. Featuring Jean-Paul Agon (CEO of L’Oreal), Francois-Henri Pinault (CEO of Kering) and Mercedes Erra (Executive President of Havas Worldwide) amongst others, this campaign serves to highlight HEC Paris’ ability to mold future business leaders.

So far, the feedback has been positive. Change often serves to divide opinion – there were a few nervous faces in the office on Monday morning – but with comments ranging from the specific, “I liked the Quick Facts Sections” (Pooja Bhardwaj) to the more general, “Great job! I love it” (David Hsu), it seems that the changes have been well-received, with Neisha Fernandes even suggesting the “SchoolPride” hashtag on Twitter!

Of course, the launch of the website does not mean that our job is done. With further changes planned, it is full steam ahead for the next stage of development, as we continue to evolve and adapt to the demands of our prospective and current students.

We hope that you like the new site as much as we do; enjoy!

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14 May 2013

And the winners are… us!

After a great weekend filled with sports and parties, we are proud to announce HEC Paris as the winners of the annual MBA Tournament, 2013.

Huge congratulations to all involved, and many thanks to all participating schools from across the globe.

Here’s a photo summary of the event.

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18 January 2013


Name: Yamini Naik

Age: 25

Nationality: Indian

Intake: September 2012 Full-Time

Club Involvement: Co-President of General Management & Leadership Club, Member of The Executive Committee on campus (TEC)

At the start of my MBA program at HEC, in one of the programs organized by the Career Management Center (CMC), we were asked to describe ourselves in 3 words. The words I chose were discovery, passion and fun and surprisingly these are the exact words I would choose to describe my HEC MBA experience!

Contrary to how I might appear on first sight, I’m a geek at heart!

I come from a software engineering background; having enjoyed my engineering studies, 5 years in the software industry as a developer, and 4 years as a software quality engineer.

As community service has always been important to me and just testing software was not service oriented enough, a couple friends and I started a social initiative that enabled students to participate in real life industry projects. This experience helped me realize the business skills I lacked and I started to feel that I wasn’t discovering enough as a software engineer.

And that’s when I made one of the best decisions of my life – to quit my job and do a MBA at HEC!

Travelling, meeting people from different cultures, discovering their stories, learning new languages and understanding new cultures have always been something I love!  As I was learning French for a year before I joined HEC, I knew I wanted to live and work in France to strengthen my command over the language. I also knew I wanted a school that focuses on diversity. And HEC Paris MBA was the best choice and I am not disappointed at all.

Where else can one find 33 nationalities in one room! In the last 5 months at HEC I have discovered so many new cultural traits, festivals, places and traditions! One of my good friends is a girl from Kazakhstan! The learning from the professionally and culturally diverse class has been the greatest value added for me.

At HEC we have cultural weeks organized by each cultural group: so far we have had the American, French, Indian and Japanese weeks and I enjoyed these events thoroughly. I’ve especially learnt so much about Japanese culture and the people and now I know for sure that I want to visit and live in Japan at some point in my life!

Recently we also had the HEC Talent Show which was great way to discover some of the talents of my classmates and also showcase my own talents as an Indian classical dancer.

<My performance at HEC Talent Show >

You’ll find that clubs at HEC are very active, helpful and great value adds to any MBA participant. Through clubs you can network with classmate with backgrounds in fields that might interest you, get in touch with alumni, do additional case cracking, meet and listen to great speakers, participate in business school competitions. There is something in store for everyone.

HEC Paris MBA Student Profile Photo

<CEO Speaker Series Event with GML Club>

The MBA at HEC has also been one of self discovery. Though I am still exploring different career options, I’ve narrowed down my list and now know that I’m best suited for business development or corporate strategy roles.

See more photos and read more about my MBA journey after the jump… (more…)

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