One of the thing I did not really expect from an MBA was the exposure that one can get to great minds. I remember seeing information about conferences when applying to MBAs, but I was often doubtful, as it could be little more than clever marketing. I’m not sure how true this is for other business schools, but HEC has certainly shown its ability to gather awesome speakers.
Last week on Wednesday, Daniel Bernard, former CEO of Carrefour and HEC alumni, came to speak to MBA students. We learned about his evolution from a young manager pioneering “Modern Retail” in the 70s, to the strategist which orchestrated the expansion of Carrefour from third hypermarket chain in France to the world’s most globalised retail group, with unparalleled growth in Latin America and Asia.
I felt privileged as I listened to him recalling stories such as going to Shanghai in the early 90s and telling incredulous officials that he wished to sell Chinese, not Vuitton or Chanel bags, but cheap rice :)
On the next day, I was part of a small group of MBA students who travelled from Jouy-en-Josas to middle Paris for a conference on Social Business, co-organised by HEC. Speakers were gathered around professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate for inventing microcredit. Most notably Franck Riboud, CEO of Danone, and Martin Hirsch, French High Commissioner for Active Solidarities against Poverty.
Another privileged moment.
Again, yesterday we had a conference with Bernard Bourigeaud, founder of Atos, as he explained us how he grew this company from a small French IT service company to the 3rd largest IT consultancy in Europe through well executed acquisitions.
It can be argued that events dedicated to MBAs, such as the ones with Daniel Bernard and Bernard Bourigeaud, are rare. They mostly target HEC as a whole and are often in French, not always with English translation. But the experience, and inspiration that one gets from such moments, is priceless.
Tomorrow, as part of the TEC programme, we will meet Avivah Cox, a Senior HR consultant and CEO who will tell us about women empowerment. Cool ! :)