From a young age I have been interested in politics and public representation, but there is a big difference between having an interest in something and actively taking part in it.
During the HEC Paris MBA admissions process, one of the alumni interviewing me commented that a number of my essays related to politics. He said that the MBA Council and Clubs would be an excellent opportunity to take part in a mini-version of politics, adding that if I lost, it wouldn’t matter because that is exactly what the MBA encourages: trying things outside of your comfort zone.
At the beginning of our MBA, I learned that whenever the Council and Clubs have more than one team running for the leadership positions, there is a full election process that culminates in a presentation in front of all MBA students, followed by a vote.
This election process was the most daunting part of my entire experience as the MBA Council President. Not only do you have to sell yourself to your cohort, you also feel an enormous responsibility toward your team, wanting to ensure that you pull them to the winner’s circle.
Actually being president of the MBA Council is a very different challenge. It is important (and difficult) to have an overall picture of what is happening with 18 separate student-led clubs, and not spend your time caught up in one or two minor issues. You really rely on your team to be proactive and able to run with their initiatives. It is a valuable management lesson to learn that if you try to take everything on yourself you will get snowed under very quickly. The Council gives you great experience in dealing with large organizations and teaches you the importance of building a strong team you can trust.
Another aspect that I enjoyed was having a lot more access to the HEC Paris administration. It was reassuring to see the staff and faculty constantly challenging themselves to improve the student experience and the overall standard of the MBA.
Looking back, I am so glad that our team ran for MBA Council. We tried to implement ideas from our previous careers and our classes. Some initiatives worked and some didn’t, but we all took away valuable lessons from everything we tried, lessons that I will use far into the future. I would highly recommend the experience to all incoming MBA students.
Text by Daniel O'Connor
After spending 8 years as a barrister-at-law certified both in his native Ireland and in the UK, Daniel O'Connor decided to join the HEC Paris MBA. He served as MBA Council President from January to July, 2017. Daniel is currently working as a Summer Associate in Private Banking for Credit Suisse, and will finish his MBA coursework in December, 2017.