Archive for ‘Speakers at HEC Paris MBA’

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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12 November 2013

“Do what you love in a job that makes you learn, and you’ll be doing the right job.”

When meeting Marc Onetto, ex-Vice President of Worldwide Operations and Customer Service at the Global giant that is Amazon, it’s hard not to feel just a little bit inspired. I admit I was nervous, facing  a man whose career has been nothing short of illustrious with only a crumpled sheet of handwritten questions to hand.

Prior to joining Amazon in 2006, Marc Onetto was Executive Vice President of Worldwide Operations for Solectron, a $12 billion leader in electronics manufacturing and integrated supply-chain service, where he has been credited with leading the company turnaround in 2003. He has also been awarded the « Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite », a French decoration given to mark his contribution to Franco-American business collaboration – it’s safe to say the man knows his business.

But within seconds of speaking to him, you forget all that. With an opening line of “So you’re English? My wife is English; that’s how I learnt that the customer is always right – she is too!” it’s pretty hard to feel intimidated.

Organized by Michel Safars, Associate Professor of Strategy & Business Policy at HEC Paris MBA, the title of Onetto’s talk – prepared as part of the launch of the newly redesigned Entrepreneurship track at HEC MBA (more on that soon!) – was “@ Amazon it is Still Day One,” a name Marc was only too happy to elaborate on:

“The idea of it still being Day One at Amazon signifies our desire to keep the “start-up” mind-set; we want to have the same spirit as a small company, despite being a larger company. When you’re a start-up, the only thing that matters is that you are providing a good product or service to your customers.”


… And that pretty sums up the content of Onetto’s presentation; Amazon still places the emphasis on customer satisfaction above all else – “This is not the chicken and the egg;  the customer always comes first” – and still holds the customer in the same esteem as it did the day Jeff Bezos first sold a book from his original garage headquarters. Onetto put this ‘customer-centricity’ down as a key factor in Amazon’s overwhelming success (“you don’t Google a product anymore, you Amazon it”) alongside Amazon’s dedication to the ‘3 Golden Rules of e-commerce’:

  1. Good price
  2. Good product selection
  3. Good delivery

Pretty simple, right? The third and final of these 3 rules was the one that Onetto was charged with during his 6 year stint at Amazon. As Vice President of Worldwide Operations, he was responsible for ensuring that people’s parcels arrived when they were meant to, in good condition and without hassle to the customer; or, in Onetto’s words, ensuring that Amazon could “walk the talk” by making sure that Amazon continued to deliver on its promises to customers. Obviously his job required a lot of logistics, a lot of metrics, as millions of parcels are sent across the world and delivered by Amazon every day, but Onetto insists that he always had the customer’s interests at heart, rather than opting for the easiest possible option to hand.

There is something in the whole “Day One” mind-set which seems amazingly simple; serve your customers well, and they will continue to give you their business in return. Sticking with the basic principles of start-up business certainly seems to have worked for Jeff Bezos, and no one can argue with the methodology of customer-centricity, but surely there must be something else, another secret to Amazon’s success?

“Don’t bow to the latest fad, take a long term view. Don’t do something just because everyone else is doing it; that’s how you become average.”

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06 May 2013

Gayathri SHANKARANARAYANAN (MBA 2014)  shares with us her experience as a member of the Consulting Club at HEC Paris MBA, and writes about one of their recent Speaker Series held on campus.

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An evening which saw budding Consultants at HEC  Paris come together to interact with the Managing Director at Accenture, Paris

The HEC Consulting Club launched the CONSULTING INSIDE-OUT Speaker Series on 22nd February 2013. The first of this series was marked with a speaker session by Mr.Nicolas Monsarrat, Managing Director at Accenture Paris.

Mr.Monsarrat has 21 years of experience in Management Consulting at Accenture, and specializes in the Public Service, Government, Media & Entertainment & Communications Sector. An engineer by education, he joined Accenture in 1992 in an Analyst’s role, and has constantly been climbing up the professional ladder to now become the Managing Director at Accenture.

With his vast experience, he gave us an insight into the management consulting culture as well as the Vertical & Horizontal organization Structure of the Consulting team at Accenture.  He also gave us vivid examples of two of his past projects in the French Public Sector& Telecommunications Sector, giving us a clear idea about the ‘start-to-end’ phase of a Consulting project at Accenture.

The team that made it possible

Mr.Monsarrat answered several questions from a crowd thirsty for more knowledge about pursuing consulting as a career. He also provided tips for career switchers as well as geographically transcending into the Consulting sector. The presentation ended with a bang when he showed us a video about NYC 311 – Accenture’s Public Service Call Solution, which has revolutionized the working of the New York City government in answering the queries of New Yorkers. (more…)

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05 March 2013

Wednesday 27th February 2013 saw our second annual Energy Day, in partnership with the Grande Ecole. We welcomed numerous worldwide energy companies to our campus including Alstom, Nomura, Gamesa and Schlumberger, who presented challenging and emotive topics. The day was organized by our MBA Energy Club, and involved over 90 students from across the HEC Paris Community.

Louis Sonnois of Alstom speaking at HEC Energy Day

The day included round table debates focused on Traditional vs. Renewable, discussions on the challenges faced by the oil industry and presentations centered on global trends in energy use.

Samuel Rocha (Class of 2014), of the Energy Club felt the 2nd HEC Energy Day was a great achievement and further proof that HEC Students can organize high profile events with international companies. To me the true success of this event would be for it to become a tradition and a link for the school with the Energy World. I hope to return to the HEC campus in 5 years and see the 7th edition of the HEC Energy Day.

(more…)

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26 February 2013

The many professional clubs at HEC Paris MBA provide opportunities to create a peer network of similar interests, meet with alumni, industry leaders and learn more about a particular sector.

Here’s a  first hand account of one of our recent MBA Speaker Series as reported by current student Julie Haspeslagh (Class 2014):

An MBA at HEC Paris is about learning new things and developing yourself: the more you know the more your dare! The modular education system allows us to choose those educational experiences that are best for your personal plan: specialized courses, certificates, internships or fieldwork projects. Doing all this will get you a great education… But…

… that’s not where it stops… An MBA at HEC Paris is more about meeting new people, discovering new cultures and learning about companies, businesses and career choices. One of the greatest ways to experience this is through our student run MBA clubs.

Speaker Series for Wines Club HEC

HEC MBA Student with Guest speaker

This week the MBA clubs had the chance of welcoming Yann Soenen, HEC MBA 2009. As Regional Director Asia Pacific Champagnes for Pernod Ricard, our alumnus came to talk to us about the challenges brands are facing managing global brands in emerging and established markets. Taking the example of the Mumm Champagne, we talked about business development in markets such as France, China and Australia.

(more…)

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