Archive for ‘Student Profiles’

27 March 2017

Varad Deshpande wants to increase his business skills before expanding his restaurant chain

portrait Varad Desphande

Varad Deshpande, MBA ’18

Varad Deshpande likes to dreams big. The HEC Paris MBA student was only 19 years old when he co-founded his business, after realizing the potential in an egg seller’s cart parked across from his undergraduate business school.

“Even though they served only two or three different egg dishes, it was really popular,” Varad explains. “I went there with my best friend, and we waited over a 1/2-hour to be served. The customers were mostly men around 18-25 years old. For instance, my friend’s girlfriend wouldn’t go there – women didn’t feel it was the cleanest place to eat. That’s when I sensed a need. Why not create an egg specialty restaurant that caters to everyone?”

Two partners and seven years later, Varad’s restaurant Yolkshire has grown into a three-location franchise in India. Though someone else has taken over as CEO during his studies, Varad still reviews the weekly sales figures. From his dorm room on the HEC Paris MBA campus, he remains ultimately responsible for the breaking and cooking of an estimated 2,400 eggs every week.

“Everything that we prepare is exclusive; our recipes aren’t the type of egg dishes you would cook at home,” he said. “That’s the concept. Our menu features egg recipes from all over the world—Lebanon, Mexico, France.”

But even as Yolkshire’s popularity grows in India, Varad is thinking bigger. He envisions a multinational chain, on par with McDonalds. “Why not?” the 26-year-old says. “The food we serve is better. I think having one in every city would be a realistic dream.”

To reach that goal, Varad enrolled in the HEC Paris MBA last September.

“I can try something new in my company today, and if it doesn’t work, I can always go back to what we were doing before,” he says. “That’s very easy. But I want to expand – imagine that I’m running a thousand outlets. I can’t take risks in the same way I’ve been doing – I have to look at marketing; I have to look at strategy and all the other things that come with it. That is perspective which I will gain only by coming to a school like HEC Paris.”

Despite his current passion for business, Varad didn’t always dream of making it big as a restaurateur. As a child, another idea consumed him: becoming a top-ranked tennis player. “I saw Sampras, Federer, Nadal; they inspired me,” he says. “As a nine-year-old, I started playing with the goal of being number one.”

The original Yolkshire is located in Pune, India.

The original Yolkshire is located in Pune, India.

Growing up, sports took priority over school for Varad. At his peak, he ranked 43rd in all of India, and was playing in international tournaments.

But at 17 years old, the realization struck that he, most likely, wasn’t good enough to be the next Federer. “I had to make a decision,” he says. “I don’t have the build of a typical tennis player, and I didn’t want to be a coach. So I stopped playing tennis and enrolled in the local business school in Pune.”

And the rest is business history. But now that he’s made the decision to do his MBA, is it possible that his dream might change once again?

Varad says that anything is possible. For the moment though, he remains dedicated to improving his restaurant acumen. He tries one new Parisian restaurant every week, and revels in having the time to reflect on what he’s already accomplished.

One of many exotic egg dishes

One of many exotic egg dishes

“All my professional life has been about getting up at 6 am and doing things,” he says. “It was not about taking things in, or learning something new that day. Running a business takes a lot of energy, but it doesn’t actually help you to grow as a person, to reflect on what you have achieved. That is something I am doing at the HEC Paris MBA. In one year here, I think you grow more than you otherwise would in three or four years. It’s about being here with the other students, and the discussions that you have with them.”

“Being a part a team, interacting and persuading each other – that is the most important part of what I am learning here at HEC. Leading people who have an opinion—maybe a different opinion that is as valid as yours—that is where I’m being challenged today.”

After graduation from the HEC Paris MBA, Varad would like to experience working in the restaurant industry in Europe before expanding his operation in India. After that, he says to watch for a Yolkshire restaurant coming to a town near you.

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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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03 September 2013

MBA Student Sophie Xiao worked for 5 years as a senior consultant for Ernst & Young. At HEC she is taking advantage of the school’s numerous exchange partnerships with top schools in the US, and will be joining the Fletcher School Of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University to complete her international study experience.

Learn more here:  Sophie Xiao on Youtube

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05 April 2013

Background:

Name: Charles-Emmanuel Daviet

Nationality: French

Intake: September 2012 Full-Time

In his literary work “Persian Letters”, written in 1721, the French social commentator and political thinker Montesquieu recounts experiences of two Persian noblemen travelling through France. During their trip, they comment on various aspects of an environment completely different from the one to which they are used. I enjoy a similar experience: Cavalry officer in the French Army, I have left aside temporarily my uniform to attend the HEC MBA program and will go back to the armed forces at the end.

Why this choice? I decided to apply for an MBA program firstly because I felt I lacked the skills and know-how to be effective in my future appointments. As I progress in my career, I will be offered increased managerial responsibilities in very various branches of the armed forces.  It will require skills that support my understanding of the global working of the military system, such as finance, management, communication, or marketing. I am convinced that most of the things I’m learning here at HEC are transferable to my future jobs.

I also felt that learning to know better how civilian economic leaders think and work could be of huge interest for me. Military means, although essential, are not enough on their own to meet the complex challenges to crisis management, which often implies stabilization and reconstruction in an international environment. I believe that in my future appointments I will need to work closely with various civilian partners on the ground, and the MBA program is a unique opportunity to understand the mind-set and way of working of future top-level managers from many countries.

Finally, I felt I lacked the economic culture I deem necessary in order to serve my country at best. George Washington said, “When we assumed the Soldier, we did not lay aside the Citizen”. For me it means that military leaders of a democratic country must have a deep understanding not only of evolving security threats, but also of societal, technological and economical changes. It requires from them an increasing degree of adaptability. Attending an MBA program is a way of acquiring this.

MBA Presentation

Why HEC? In France, when you think about business schools, there is one name and only one: HEC. The reputation of the school is superb. This is why I decided to apply. General de Gaulle used to say that you should always aim for the top, because it is less crowded there. It is a demanding and developing motto.

Diversity at HEC is incredible. Not only do the students reinforce the international awareness required to communicate fluently with businesses worldwide, but also HEC provides an incomparable list of useful contacts. I receive and I learn a lot from other participants and I feel indebted towards them. So sometimes I ask myself what I can bring to them.

With fellow classmates at the Sustainable Business Conference Cocktail

First, I try to share my vision of the importance of national factors in economy and of the role of the State. I have been a public servant for the last 15 years and I am a great believer in the positive role of the State. I do think that in a world of highly mobile capital, states are still vital to the social and economic well-being of their citizens, not even to mention their physical security. Obviously the way states promote wealth creation and social protection in an era of economic interdependence is changing, but it will not disappear. Moreover, national factors still have a he impact on economics. Sometimes we tend to think that economics are a science like chemistry or physics: raise taxes and achieve result X, cut budgets and achieve result Y. In doing this, we forget about national history, national culture, and perhaps national psychology: in two different countries, perception of the same economic policy can vary a great deal. By exchanging with people from so many different countries, the MBA program provides a unique opportunity to understand this.

Second, I try to share my vision of leadership. In the military, we have a specific understanding of leadership responsibility. We call it Command. It is the authority that a military leader exercises over subordinates. It includes leadership, authority, responsibility and accountability for effectively using resources to accomplish assigned missions where human lives can be at stake. Therefore command is very broad, it includes responsibility for almost everything about assigned personnel: unit readiness, health, welfare, morale, discipline, etc. The true commander is someone of character, presence and intellect. But he is nothing without good followers. In fact no one leads all the time. All of us are alternatively followers and leaders. Therefore it is often illuminating to consider the relationship between followership and leadership. Collective work during the MBA provides good opportunities to assume both roles and learn about their relationship.

Finally, I like to think that I can bring something to other participants about ethics. In combat or complex and dangerous situations, ethical choices are not always easy. Yet decisions have to be made quickly. This is why ethics are so important in the armed forces. Military leaders are expected do the right things for the right reasons all the time. Followers count on their leaders to be more than just technically and tactically proficient. They rely on them to make good decisions that are also ethical. To be an ethical leader requires more than knowing one organization’s values. Leaders must be able to apply them as well as ethical reasoning to find moral solutions to diverse problems. As emphasized by Winston Churchill, “The price of greatness is responsibility”.

After graduating, I will go back to my Regiment (1st Spahis Regiment) as chief of the operations office, in charge of planning and conducting the activities and the deployments of the entire regiment (800 soldiers). Becoming a contributor to the delicate intricacies involved in successfully planning and executing complex military operations on the ground is an exiting challenge. I look forward to it.

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18 January 2013

Background:

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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20 December 2012

David ZHU Profile Photo HEC Mba Paris Student

Background:

Name: David Hsu

Age: 27

Nationality: American and Taiwanese

Intake: September 2012 Full-Time

Club Involvement: President of Luxury Club, VP Corporate Relations for Wines & Spirits Club, VP Communications for MBAT, PR & Digital Marketing Officer for MBA Council

Prior to starting my MBA at HEC Paris I was a Publicist and Social Media Consultant in New York City. I had lived in the “Concrete Jungle” for a little over four years before the big move to Paris. Having done PR and social media for hospitality and luxury brands I wanted to make the switch to business development and strategy for the same type of brands.

I was attracted to HEC Paris because of its strength in luxury and its proximity to Paris. The opportunity to study with Jean-Noël Kapferer and Vincent Bastien, authors of “The Luxury Strategy,” was too good an opportunity to turn down. The added bonus of being able to pursue the Luxury Strategies Certificate, where I would learn from practitioners in the field of luxury and gain hands-on experience working on a project for PPR Luxury Group, further reassured me that I was making the right decision when I ultimately chose HEC Paris over other U.S. based MBA programs.

Boarding my one-way ticket to Paris was nerve wrecking to say the least; but my experiences since I’ve been at HEC Paris have confirmed that this was the best decision I’ve ever made. Even before arriving on campus my HEC Paris experience began; during the application process I realized how helpful the current students and more importantly the alumni are. One alumnus in particular advised me throughout my application process, gave me tips once I got admitted and has since welcomed me with open arms and introduced me to the “City of Light.” The alumni and classmates from the earlier intakes, with their enthusiasm and generosity have made the transition easier than I had expected.

HEC Paris MBA Student and Alumni 2013

Party with Alumni

Besides the alumni, the professors here are first class in their fields of expertise. For someone that is essentially allergic to Quant and had no interest in Finance before setting foot on campus, my Financial Markets professor, Ioanid Rosu, was able to not only teach me the subject but also pique my interest. This one class actually has me considering the Finance Track during my Personalized Phase of the program, those that know me understands how shocking this is.

Luxury Club Buddy Program Holiday Dinner

Luxury Club Holiday Dinner


Saving the best for last, my favorite aspect of a day at HEC Paris is when classes are finished and club activities and the social life commences. There is basically a club for every professional interest, but if there’s something that interests you but no club exists, the MBA Council is very welcoming in helping you create one. For instance, one of my classmates founded the Wines & Spirits club, and every month we have a tasting and a speaker that teaches us about wine and the industry. Clubs play a huge part in my life here and even before arriving on campus the president two terms ago was incredibly helpful in introducing me to the Luxury club. As a result, I was able to hit the ground running and immerse myself in the Luxury club immediately.

My Study group from the end of core termWhich brings me to the most surprising and beneficial aspect of the program in my opinion. The admissions committee has gathered an extraordinary and truly diverse student body. Over the summer, the number one thing on my mind was what would my future classmates be like? I now have friends from all corners of the world whom I can turn to when I need advice, help or simply to share a drink and unwind after a long day of classes and club activities. Whether it’s during study groups or at a party in the Piano Bar, I’ve learned more from my classmates and they’ve taught me more about myself than I thought was possible.

On-Campus Raclette Dinner in Expansiel

On- Campus Raclette Dinner in Expansiel

Although I’ve only been here for one term, the past four months have been spectacular and as corny as it sounds have truly changed me. Who I am now would not have been possible just eight short months ago, before I replied to that acceptance letter with a Yes.

***

If you would like to learn more about my MBA experiences at HEC Paris you can get a first hand view from my twitter: @Hsud. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions.

You can also follow HEC Paris MBA on Facebook
You can follow HEC Paris MBA on Twitter

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