05 November 2014

The Career Management Center has put in place a series of bootcamps that give students in inside look into key career sectors from industry experts.

Last month, students had the opportunity to follow a multi-day Consulting bootcamp, full of presentations, case studies and insider tips from  former Executive Recruiter at McKinsey & Co, Nick Oak.

What does he advice students interested in a career with a top consulting firm? Below, we ask him a few questions on how best to prepare the competitive consulting application process.

How important is the preparation process for a career in consulting?

Without specific case interview practice I can categorically say the probability of a career in consulting are low – so very important; however, MBA students will often, realizing this obvious importance, over prepare by attempting to figuring out all “correct answers” via repetition.

This over fixation on practice alone is a huge mistake as consulting firms are evaluating candidates for their ability to demonstrate sound judgement and thinking that produces the right answers and not the correct answers themselves.

What kind of background/skills/qualities do big consulting firms look for in the hiring process?

This changes year to year and depends on the firms; however, let me provide the following list of attributes that standout:

-  Strong undergraduate experience

-  Outstanding professional experience before MBA

-  Competitive internship

-  Academic performance during MBA

-  Leadership:  evidence of leading people, groups and organizations

-  Extracurricular and community involvement

-  GMAT/GRE score

-  Networking, networking and networking

No one item above will get you an interview, indeed, it is the sum total of the consulting firms interpretation of your background that will answer if an interview will happen; however, most weaknesses can be overcome with diligent networking if you are able to find an advocate, especially a HEC alumni, at the firm of your interest.

What do people need to know about the case analysis aspect of the recruitment process?

The case should not highlight only their ability to do cases but should demonstrate they can leverage the learnings from the MBA program as a tool to strengthen and deepen their problem solving skills.  Also, the case is only half of the assessment as the behavioral interviews will need as much preparation.  Some firms will also have a standardized test which will need some attention although not as much as the case and behavioral.

What is important to know in order to succeed in consulting?

MBA students need to start the transformation process to grow now.  Everything they are learning will be useful if they successfully navigate the interview process and get a job as a consultant.  This evolutionary process starts by first applying the listening, thinking and verbalization skills in their classes and by collaborating to learn from not only the professors, but more importantly, from other students.

This deliberate cultivation of  their time at HEC will empower them to do well during the interview process and succeed during their tenure in consulting.  Some obvious issues to focus on are as follows:

-  Don’t pick the easiest answers.  Think critically about possible counterintuitive and unintended outcomes that are discovered by evaluating interdependence (we had examples during case practice).

-  Recast data to realize not only what it tells you but more importantly what it doesn’t say

-  Without listening carefully nothing else much matters.  Start by listening well to your peers.

-  Work on your verbalization and speak in a structure manner thoughtfully.  This means don’t speak quickly with the easiest and most obvious point that pops into your mind – take time to formulate a response that characterizes critical thinking and practice it daily.

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27 October 2014

Thomas Negrel

HEC Paris MBA, Class of 2010

With pre-MBA experience in the French armed forces, Thomas Negrel was looking to change careers. He had strong managerial and leadership experience having previously worked as a French Gendarme and SWAT team leader. He joined the HEC Paris MBA in 2008 but was initially unsure of a specific career path. “I decided to take the big step and join the MBA program, not really knowing what I wanted to do, actually, not having any idea what I wanted to do.”

With an open outlook during the fundamental phase of the program, he had a revelation. “I really loved my Corporate Finance teacher, and I decided that since I understood the subject, that it could be a good path.” This initial interest in Finance eventually led him to accepting a post-MBA job with French bank BNP Paribas in Mergers & Acquisitions.

Since graduating in 2010, Thomas regularly finds himself returning to HEC Paris. Seeing that many MBA students were curious about careers in finance but unsure about how to get a foot in the door, he worked with the Career Management Center to develop a “Finance Bootcamp,” which he now teaches. This introduction to the world of finance gives the students an opportunity to discover more about the field, the types of jobs available, the varying hiring processes and how to network.

Thomas has recently moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where he is now working as Vice President of Mergers & Acquisitions for William Blair & Company.

Click here for the full profile.

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07 October 2014

From Jouy-en-Josas, to the heart of the Loire,
we departed one night, but did not go by car.
T’was a chariot of grey made of welded steel trusses -
If you want to be boring then you might call them buses.

From forty-four nations, some old and some new;
we had all been collected – the fortunate few.
The future looked brighter, and the past seemed less grim;
for the future was ‘beer’, and the past, ‘Negosim’!

We had joined here together for the singular aims
of drinking and dancing ’til we all recalled names.
Some simple, some hard; and the pro-nun-cia-tion,
formed a part of the game that we called ‘Integration’.

So the grey bus swerved sideways,
past the traffic and holes;
as we sang and and we smiled
at the shouts of “Hi Skol!”.

It was well into darkness when we rolled in to town;
but we all knew our place and we promptly sat down.
With a towel and a bedroom, all the problems met;
save for one tiny task that we hadn’t met yet.

First light brought us coffee as we boarded each bus;
red eyes were the fashion – we were too tired to fuss.
We all knew the schedule; t’was a lot to fit in;
so we quietly rolled on to ‘Chateau Tintin’.

Thus the day it continued in a similar vein;
with the chateaus expended we were given champagne.
In these renaissance homes of the highest of classes,
t’was symbolic, I thought, that some made off with glasses.

The bubbles crescendoed and rose to our heads,
and we boarded the buses, most dreaming of beds.
Yet the silence was shattered by a larakin lad:
“The night is not over! There is fun to be had!”

Once more dawn ascended, and the schedule changed;
while the first day brought culture, the second brought games.
We would finish with races, but first had the chance,
to complete an adventure each chose in advance.

Some preferred walking, and some chose the bike;
these were all worthy options, and I’m sure they were liked.
But if I’m to be honest, there’s a thing I must say -
that the better of us chose a REAL M-Bee-A.

With the honey consumed and our bags in the back,
The buses took off at great speed for the track.
There we drove round in circles until everyone won,
and we laughed and we cheered in the last of the sun.

A few hours later we saw HEC -
That feeling of ‘home’ was a new one indeed.
The journey was over, the end was in sight;
and with mouthfuls of pizza we all said “Good night.”

Now I sit here reflecting on the weekend we’ve had,
the fact that it’s over makes me feel a bit sad.
But then I remember that the next is not far,
and in fact might come early…how ‘bout Thursday…P-Bar?

- HEC Paris MBA Participant from Sept ’14 intake
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01 October 2014

The Part-time MBA option presents professionals with the unique opportunity to carry out their MBA studies while allowing them to minimize time away from the workplace. Spending just one week per month on campus allows participants to learn in class one week and then directly apply the skills they gained at work the next. By working and studying concurrently, Part-time students gain instantly applicable knowledge – a benefit both for themselves and for their employers. As owner of his own asset management firm, Mathieu Dessallien decided to pursue the Part-time option to gain valuable business skills to progress his career.

“Studying at HEC Paris will not only give me a diploma, it teaches me these competencies.”

One of the most frequently mentioned benefits of studying Part-time is the opportunity to mix with students from diverse professional backgrounds: from lawyers, to entrepreneurs, and even classical musicians – the diversity of the classes offers a variety of professional perspectives. The range of nationalities in each intake is equally beneficial for developing a global outlook: by working and collaborating with peers from different countries and cultural backgrounds, students develop a truly international perspective – a key skill needed in today’s diverse world of business. The program presents students with the opportunity to learn, expand their corporate network, enhance their leadership skills, all while allowing them to maintain a balance between their work and personal lives. Alongside her Part-time coursework, Flore Fesquet is looking into the possibility of starting her own firm.

“The Part-time option was good for me because it gave me the time to look into that [starting a firm] at the same time as studying, and it’s something I’m still considering.”

If there’s anything to be learned from the Part-time participants it’s that one mold does not fit all. Studying Part-time allows students both the flexibility and the time needed to develop a personalized plan to progress their careers.

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26 September 2014

“Congratulations! You have been appointed to manage a company. You start Wednesday.”

The opening words of Bernard Garrette’s introductory talk on Negosim – a computer-based business simulation exercise that MBA students take part in during their first few weeks at HEC Paris. Over the course of three days, students are placed into teams of 4 or 5, and then set about managing virtual companies that compete in international markets. The main objective? To create wealth for their virtual shareholders. During this short period of time, the teams will work through six quarters (eighteen months in real time), making six sets of important decisions. The students will be split into three different “universes”, comprising of ten firms, of different nationalities. As well as competing with their peers, students will face computer-simulated “local” competitors in their respective countries. What’s more, all firms operate in the same B2B industry: electronic devices.

Thrown into such fierce competition, you may be tempted to think that the best strategy would be to avoid contact with other teams at all costs. However, this is not the point of the exercise – in Negosim, companies not only compete, they co-operate. The teams will be expected to negotiate and sign outsourcing agreements, embark on joint-ventures, and form strategic alliances in order to progress and generate more wealth. The goal is to learn by doing. The teams have been purposefully selected so they are as diverse as possible – not only to simulate the real working environment of global businesses, but in order to create a wealth of different ideas. Students will progress by trial and error, putting into practice what they have only just begun to learn in the classroom, as MBA student and Negosim participant Vivek Goli says, it’s “a practice ground before we hit the real battleground.”


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22 September 2014

“The past few days have been a great introduction to the program.” – Summer Lindman (HEC Paris MBA Class of 2016)

With summer vacation over and school back in session, September saw the MBA program welcoming its latest set of students to campus. These new students, arriving from all corners of the globe, have had a busy first week of presentations, career workshops and networking luncheons.

We sit down with two students from this latest intake, Summer and Sabu, as they discuss their first impressions of life on campus and their MBA experience thusfar.

Listen to the SoundCloud interview:

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30 July 2014

MBA students at HEC Paris benefit from over 35+ international exchange opportunities at some of the top business schools worldwide.

HEC Paris MBA and UCLA’s Anderson School of Business are one example of this powerful exchange network and have a special program setup for its Part-time students. This July, we welcomed 6 students, all of whom were able to benefit from our week-long workshop on Big Data with IBM.

“It’s been a great global experience” – Alok Gandhi (UCLA Anderson Class of 2015)

Listen to our SoundCloud where we interview a few of the UCLA exchange students and ask them about their experience and why they chose to study at HEC Paris.

For more information about our exchange programs, click here: www.mba.hec.edu/Learning-Experien…ational-Exchanges

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04 July 2014

Lauranne recently joined the Development Team at HEC Paris MBA after 3 years at Columbia University in New York where she worked to develop new cooperation initiatives and dual degrees with French institutions. Added to her prior experience in the management of European programs in the Youth and Education fields, and it’s clear that Lauranne knows her way around the education system – both in France and abroad – making her the perfect advocate for our MBA program internationally. “I came to HEC Paris because I felt it was essential for me to find a position which will allow me to continue working for the promotion and development of global education programs,” she says, adding that her role as the Development Manager for North America (as well as the Part-time option in France) allowed her to maintain strong links with the United States.

As well as tying in her professional background, the Development Manager position at HEC Paris MBA appealed to Lauranne for reasons of sheer variety, as she is quick to point out there is no ‘standard work day’; “This is a strongly networked position at the best Business School in Europe…  The HEC MBA program brings students coming from a wide range of profiles and diverse backgrounds, which makes the experience so enriching as each and every candidate has a very unique profile.” On top of that, Lauranne is in constant contact with Alumni, corporate institutions and top academics across the globe.

It cannot be denied that Lauranne knows her stuff about the MBA Program, as her daily interaction with these people gives her an insight into what makes the most successful MBA student; what skills recruiters look for, what kind of students these Professors want to work with and what competencies help post-graduation. When asked what she looks for in an MBA candidate, she places the emphasis on communication and people skills, combined with a strong international profile; “The ideal MBA candidate needs to show high interpersonal and intercultural communication skills, while significant international exposure within past professional experiences and academic background is particularly valued at HEC.” Candidates shouldn’t shy away from emphasizing their international background or skillset during the applications process, either; “It is important to particularly highlight this aspect throughout the admission process and to show how your special professional and international experiences will contribute to the success of the classroom.”

As an expert of the MBA program, Lauranne is in high demand. If you are interested in meeting her, you can register for any of her upcoming events on our Development calendar. Some of these events include a tour of the North America in September, which will see Lauranne travel to Toronto, Boston, Chicago, New York, Washington DC, Vancouver, San Francisco and Los Angeles to attend MBA fairs and events organized with HEC Alumni. In the meantime, Lauranne will be organizing Part-time specific events throughout June and July including Breakfast Presentations, Negotiation Workshops and Virtual Information Sessions. Alternatively, you can sign up for a Drop-in session – a one-on-one conversation with one of our Development Managers – every Wednesday in Paris for individualized feedback on your MBA candidate profile.

So, does Lauranne have any advice for potential MBA candidates? Yes – do it! “At HEC Paris MBA, we work to prepare our candidates to become the future global leaders by offering them the chance to work and study alongside promising mid-level professionals from over 50 different countries. This is a real life changing experience!”

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27 June 2014

Graduation is a day that is undoubtedly nerve-wracking. Falling over on stage, collecting the wrong diploma and being late for the ceremony are all scenarios that commonly play out in the minds of soon-to-be graduates. Not forgetting that our 2014 Graduation Ceremony was held on Friday 13th June, it’s easy to see why a few of our MBA Class of 2014 were more than a little nervous come the morning. As is usually the case, however, these fears were proven totally unfounded last Friday as our MBA Class of 2014 graduated without a hitch and with plenty of sunshine.

The day started early, with a welcome lunch buffet and cocktail held in the MBA building on campus. This was more than mere ceremony, as this the graduating class was the first to have their classes based in the newly designed building which opened September 2012, coinciding with the launch of the new curriculum. Indeed, this was a class of firsts: the first run for the new curriculum, the first appearance of the HEC Zebra at MBAT and the first Saint-Cyr seminar that resembled Noah’s Ark more than a mere field exercise.

For many of our graduating class, the graduation was a chance to be reunited with classmates for the first time since classes ended last December. A lot can change in 6 months; jobs have been found, promotions have been earned and babies have been born, and so the buffet was a perfect chance for students, friends and families to catch up before the formalities got underway.

The MBA ceremony was a nostalgic affair, with the Associate Dean of the MBA Program at HEC Paris Bernard Garrette, setting out to present the first ever “virtual” graduation ceremony via webcam in keeping with the presentation’s ‘Digital Transformation’ theme. He soon emerged on stage, however, reliving the highs and lows of the Class of 2014 before introducing the Class Patron and Chief Development Officer at Capgemini Group, Pierre-Yves Cros (HEC Paris MBA Class of 1984) to the stage. Cros spoke succinctly, sharing his secrets for success with the graduating class and advising them to listen to nothing but their own instinct: “If I had listened to my parents, my friends, my teachers… I would not be where I am today.”

With this advice in mind, our students were ready to collect their diplomas, making the transformation from HEC Paris MBA Students to HEC Paris MBA Alumni. Following the presentation of the Academic Awards to the students with the highest GPAs, each student was called up individually to collect their diploma on stage, to a chorus of applause and the occasionally shout of encouragement from the audience.

A class photo soon followed – including the obligatory “cap in the air” shot – as well as the grand ceremony for all graduates from every program at HEC Paris. Here they were addressed by the Dean of HEC Paris, Bernard Ramanantsoa and his distinguished guests, with the announcement of the Dean’s List 2014 celebrating the best and brightest from across the school, both in terms of leadership development and academic quality. Included on this list were MBA students Hamassala David Dicko, Malik Baudry, Julie Haspeslagh, Impreet Natt, Emilie Flanagan, Ashley Bienvenu, Jodi Neuman, Thomas Philbeck, Subajan Sivandran and Mark Thomas – Congratulations!

So with the end of the ceremony (and one final dance) came the end of the MBA at HEC Paris for our graduates. After a day charged with nostalgia, congratulations and goodbyes, feelings were decidedly mixed. Yamini Naik summed up the feelings of the class well; “I’m kind of both happy and sad about leaving HEC Paris. It’s been an amazing experience, but now after nearly 2 years I am ready to move on and I am excited about the future!”

Of course, this isn’t a goodbye for our graduates; as they now go on to play an important role as HEC Alumni within our global 50,000-strong network. While their role within the school may have changed, it is by no means diminished.

Best of luck to our graduates, stay in touch!

For more on this year’s Graduation ceremonies at HEC Paris, check out our storify here and listen to our SoundCloud below.

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19 June 2014

When filming for our Student Profiles, there are a few topics that come up time and time again: the MBA Tournamentthe Leadership Seminar at Saint-Cyr, Professor Rosu’s Financial Markets Class, and, of course, the Global Consulting Practicum (GCP) in partnership with Wharton.

Indeed, the chance to participate in the GCP – a consulting project carried out by HEC Paris and Wharton MBA students (in total making a team of 11), in conjunction with a paying real-life client such as Microsoft or the Bill & Miranda Gates Foundation – is the decisive factor for many in coming to do an MBA at HEC Paris. “It was definitely one of my main motivations in coming here. Within a month of arriving on campus we had already made our team up and were looking for projects to get involved in,” says Hugo Kuo, one of the six HEC Paris students who took part in this year’s project.

This year’s project addressed the spread of cloud technology, and how that can play an important role in the expansion and sustainability of Small and Medium Enterprises in the Private Sector. You can read more about the details of this mission on the Wharton website here.

Once the project, client and teams were announced in October last year, our team were hard at work; researching, arranging interviews and organizing team meetings once a week, be it in person, through email or even via Skype. They also had to begin working closely with the Wharton contingent (no mean feat, with time differences, entire oceans and geographical distance standing between them) to find a good way to coordinate and synchronize.

In January, the team got stuck into their work as they departed for Benin and Rwanda to meet with the client and conduct interviews with employees and industry experts. This was also the first time that the two teams from Wharton and HEC Paris met in real-life; it would be the last time, too, until the final presentation in Philadelphia in May.

This field visit was the first practical experience of consulting for many of our students, as they got to grips with the task at hand. It also served as a stark example of the power and breadth of our Alumni network, as Hugo recalls, “There was one company in Benin that our client had been trying to arrange a meeting with for some time, but they just couldn’t get through the door. Luckily, we found out that the CEO was actually an HEC Alum, and so we were able to get in touch with him and arrange a meeting no problem!”

In fact, you could say that the GCP itself is an exercise in networking to a certain extent. Not only do the participants get to name both HEC Paris and Wharton on their CVs, but they also get to meet with prestigious clients and get a handle on the working culture of three different continents: Africa, North America and Europe.

Alongside this new knowledge of how to adapt to work within different cultures (the teams were multicultural within themselves, too), the GCP allows participants to gain a whole new transferable skillset that can be adapted to fit almost any industry, from Marketing to Consulting. “I learned a lot during the GCP,” says Iuliana Covaci, another of this year’s HEC participants, “how to present and deliver key messages, how SMEs in emerging countries function, how to manage large-scale projects, as well as how to work within a team of 11 when disagreements arise.” This is not just a project for budding strategists.

While it may seem that the field visit was the climax of the project, the real work really begun when the team returned to HEC Paris in February. With monthly check-ups with the client and the final presentation to the client in May approaching, our team really had to get down to work; Hugo – a Part-time MBA student at HEC Paris – took two months away from work in order to focus on the project.

For the final presentation in mid-May, our team flew into Philadelphia for one final meeting with the Wharton team. They then presented their final recommendations to the client and answered any questions the panel had. Recommendations made and job done, the client was delighted with the work of the HEC Paris and Wharton team and vowed to take the team’s recommendations on board. And the feeling was mutual. “They really made us feel as though we were part of the company,” says Hugo, “We weren’t just ignored for nine months and then judged only on our final presentation; they really made an effort to stay in touch with us, giving their comments and encouraging us to think in ways we wouldn’t have otherwise. They took our final comments into consideration and even agreed to collaborate with another company we recommended.”

For more information on the Global Consulting Practicum with Wharton, please visit our website.

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