Frog to Dragon: HEC MBA & Tsinghua MBA Blog


The quest for wisdom, from France to China, of an HEC MBA & Tsinghua MBA dual degree student (class of 2011)

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Archive for the ‘MBA’ Category

Posted by at 26 April , 2010

Hey there!
Spring has finally arrived!

Violets blooming all over the campus woods

Violets blooming all over the campus woods

What can I say, I’m very glad I could pack away my coat and enjoy again nice walks around the campus. Flowers are just about everywhere these days. Everybody is in good mood :)

It is also time to look back as we have now completed our second Core phase.

During this period, I have learned about:
- Business Economics
- Corporate Finance (in French)
- Decision Making
- Organisational Behaviour
- Management Accounting & Control (in French)
- Strategic Management (in French)
- Sustainable Business Strategy

Like in Core 1, I didn’t know much about any of these topics.

I confirmed my strange taste for Financial Accounting as I enjoyed the classes we had in Management Accounting. This is big news for me and I’m now starting to include this skill into future career options. (Seriously, who’d want to include Accounting as a career option!)

I may say that this period has been as life changing as Core 1. But maybe as a continuation. I felt that Core 1 was a “Reset” time, while Core 2 was about (re)building my expectations.
I’ve definitely started to think of career options in a different way and now I’m seriously considering options that would have sounded wild when I left my job, just under a year ago.

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Posted by at 19 April , 2010

Building a bridge in the forest

Building a bridge in the forest

Last week, we went to something truely unique about the HEC MBA: The Leadership Seminar at St-Cyr, where we spent two days. One in the Coëtquidant center, in the forest. The other one at the Penthièvre fort, by the sea of Brittany.
For the record, St-Cyr is the highest level French military academy, where cadets train to become officers of the French army. It is considered to be one of the more prestigious Grandes Ecoles.

And, yes, it was a blast :)
We didn’t get to play with arms but we had plenty with all the rest.
We learned to quickly understand people’s key skills in a team. We learned to trust our team mates. We learned to trust ourselves too.
We woke up early, and experienced things we never had before. We faced our fears and conquered some of them.

I can seriously say I felt priviledged to be part of such a programme.
It was fantastic and I’m sure all of us will have lots of happy memories of these two days :)

PS: Yes, I had my share of cramps and bruises afterwards.

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Posted by at 2 April , 2010

Last week we had a conference cycle called Visions of Leadership.

Theodore Zeldin at HEC Visions of Leadership

Theodore Zeldin at HEC Visions of Leadership

This week long event was opened by Theodore Zeldin and saw leaders from a broad range of sectors. I was certainly impressed by the diversity of ways one can be a leader in. We had, of course, people coming from the corporate world, but also from smaller businesses and start-ups. Further from the typical MBA target, we saw ambassadors, sportsmen and a former head of the French army in Afghanistan.

It was a very interesting discovery for us. Not all leaders are charismatic and the “Follow me to my vision!” type. Some were more collected and exhibited a more serious demeanor. Some came with the notes and presentations while others could just sit in their chair and start talking. Some were shy.

One of the things this week left me thinking about was, actually, how we started the cycle.
Just before the conferences started we were all given a bag with instructions and, amongst other things, Theodore Zeldin’s book: Conversation: How Talk Can Change Our Lives. This book matched not only his opening speech but also made sense of the cycle and further.
Indeed, I believe that meaningful conversations can change people. It stems from a desire to share things and learn from others. One could even say that writing this blog is a way for me to have a conversation with you readers.

Anyway, philosophical ponders…

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Posted by at 28 March , 2010

A few weeks ago, the HEC MBA students participated in shooting this trailer. We were about 100. We discovered how tough a movie shot can be but the result was really worth it. Wahoo!

HEC Paris - Official MBAT 2010 Trailer

Looking on Youtube, I found another MBAT 2010 trailer, this time from LBS. You can tell the celebration is getting closer! :)

HEC Paris - Official MBAT 2010 Trailer

In case you’re wondering what Morgan Freeman says, it comes from Invictus, beautiful poem by Henley:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

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Posted by at 21 February , 2010

As you may have noticed everywhere around the world, this week was full of Chinese New Year celebrations. Well at the HEC MBA too where the (extended) Chinese community organised the Chinese Week.
In the programme, we had tea and snacks tasting, Chinese movie/documentary about China, dumpling workshop (if you’ve always dreamed of making your own dumplings), and an evening of partying on Friday along with dinner, music and games.

Happy Chinese New Year! Hail to the Tiger!

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Posted by at 11 February , 2010

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 :)

Conference with Pr. Yunus

Conference with Pr. Yunus

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 ! :)

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Posted by at 27 January , 2010

You may have noticed that I’m getting to blog a bit more regularly. Well, part of it is because many interesting things happen.

Yesterday and today HEC hosted the recrutment “Carrefours“. Carrefour means crossroads in French and is also the name of France’s largest supermarket chain. And indeed, the whole event seemed like a big marketplace.
In two days, about 110 companies came to recruit from a very broad range of sectors. There were consulting firms and banks of course, but also retail, transportation, automobile, energy, publishing, food, consumer goods, luxury, and the list goes on. There was even a video game company.
Unfortunately, most (although not all) of the companies that came focus on recruiting Grande Ecole people. This masters programme is clearly the one that HEC is famous for. It often brings frustration as we see recruiters all smile and, the second we mention we’re from the MBA programme, they start to look away.

However, persistence (and a sustained smile) is key, as well as good preparation.
Before the carrefours, I studied my plan of attack, I knew that I was interested in consulting or consumer goods (preferably more on the luxury side). So I shortlisted 10 companies, categorised in “must-see” and “if-time”, and went ahead.
While a few companies proved disappointing (I’m starting to really wonder whether I’d really like to go back to the consulting sharks nest), I came back with 3 companies that were interested in my profile, and where I could happily imagine myself applying to. One was in consulting, one in beauty, and one in luxury. I felt the highest connection to was the latter but it was a total pleasure to discuss with each of them.
So in the end, I’ve had a fruitful Carrefour. I’ve made contact with the recruiting representatives of likeable companies and I know they’ll remember me when I e-mail them. And most importantly, I’ve confirmed that my profile is attractive to my target industry. A career switch is indeed possible!

On another note, while I went to the Carrefours fairly light-hearted, mainly looking for information as I’ll finish my studies from Tsinghua only in June next year, we (of the September 09 intake) noticed many old faces from the September 08 batch who finished class in December. I didn’t want to ask to many questions but it seems like the job market is tough for those who just graduated…

 

Fajitas party!

Fajitas party!

So what’s the deal with fajitas? You may ask.

Well, I just wanted to (at last) comment on the social life at HEC, since it’s something that we’re most most proud of in our MBA.

Just two days ago, we received an e-mail from the president of the Latin Club about a fajitas party organised at the Piano Bar (it’s a bar with a piano) by the dorms. That came in as a total surprise out of some ideas that emerged during the week-end (which was the January 10 integration week-end in the Alps).

Here you go: fajitas, sangria, caipiroska, margarita, pisco…

Total succes! Latin Club! We love you! :)

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Posted by at 24 January , 2010

Some of you may know of my interest in China. In particular, the proposition of a double degree with the Tsinghua University was a factor in my selection of the HEC MBA.

After writing 3000+ worth of more essays, sending the university my 60 euros of application fees by post, and applying to the Tsinghua SEM IMBA independently, back in December, I received their response this week:

Dear Pam,

Congratulations! We are very pleased to inform you that you have been admitted by School of Economics and Management, Tsinghua University for IMBA Program starting from 2010 Fall. Thank you again for choosing Tsinghua MBA program.

This email is to inform you of your admission to Tsinghua SEM IMBA Program. The official admission letter and visa application form will be sent to you in June 2010 from Tsinghua University. Welcome to join in Tsinghua SEM!

Me happy! (^__^)

I feel like I just took a step further toward China!

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Posted by at 16 January , 2010

Just a quick article about the Tracks.

Some of you may know that the HEC MBA curriculum is composed of 4 phases:
- Core 1
- Core 2
- Personalised Phase 1
- Personalised Phase 2

Basically Core 1 and 2 are made up of mandatory foundation classes and Personalised Phase 1 and 2 are elective time.

Until recently, only Personalised Phase 2 allowed for specialisation where we can choose between Entrepreneurship, Finance, Management Innovation, Marketing and Strategy.

However, since last year, and more this year, we now have the possibility to also specialise during the Personalised Phase 1. The new tracks are planned to be more professional and one key factor is that they are HEC cross disciplinary tracks. Meaning that unlike the PP2 tracks, they are open not only to MBA students but also to other programmes from HEC such as the Grande Ecole or Specialised Masters.
In Personalised Phase 1, we can now specialise in Energy, Real Estate, Social Business and Luxury Strategies.

Now I’ll let you guess to which one I’m going to apply ;)

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Posted by at 13 January , 2010

First of all Happy New Year 2010! :)

Happy New Year 2010!

Happy New Year 2010!

It gives me the opportunity for me to look back at my Year 2009 where many things happened.
I left my job and started a new life as an HEC student.
I feel I opened up to many new things. I discovered myself a talent for topics I had no idea of (eg. Financial Accounting?!) and met people that I would have had little chances to meet before (eg. a japanese girl who worked in bulldozer manufacturing…)
At this stage, I sincerely believe that year 2009 was a cornerstone year for me and that year 2010 will bring more changes in my life.

So what’s your new year resolution? Mine is to learn Chinese. I really hope to become more conversational with my Mandarin this year. Time will tell if I succeeded. :)

View of campus from Expansiel

View of campus from Expansiel

So that’s it! Now I’m (hardly) back from my end of year holidays and ready to take over Core 2!

The least we can say is that, academically, Core 2 starts slowly. And this is a good thing since I happen to be hammered with ever more club activities. In parrallel, I need to seriously look for a July-August summer internship.
Lots to do…

Finally, the newcomers from the Jan 2010 intake arrived last week. It’s a bit strange to now be considered as the “seniors”. Tonight we have a special “buddy” event to meet with the younger intake people we will give advices to.
It reminds me of a similar notion from the Consulting world.

Otherwise, I think I’ve never seen so much snow for so long in France…

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