Last week I attended a wonderful conference in Paris hosted by HEC for admissions consultants. We met with admissions staff, faculty, and students. Associate Dean Bernard Garrette addressed us.
I’m going to summarize here a few of my take-aways from the conference and refrain from merely repeating the raw information provided:
• HEC provides incredible diversity in a small class placed just outside Paris, one of the business and cultural capitals of the world. (And I had forgotten how beautiful Paris is, but it is a gorgeous city!) Its 220 students represent 40 different countries.
• HEC also offers flexibility with two intakes and a program that takes 12-16 months, depending on internships. Students can participate in up to three internships, which can facilitate career change.
• It is a superb program if one wants to work in Europe either immediately post-MBA or long-term. If a student wants to experience Europe, develop an international network, and then return to his or her home country, HEC recommends that the student do an exchange in the country or at least the region where the student wants to work. There are approximately 40 different exchange opportunities; more and more grads have been returning to their home countries since the 2008 financial crisis.
• The Financial Times has consistently ranked HEC’s MBA highly for marketing. It is also well known for luxury goods marketing with strong ties to Cartier and other elite luxury goods vendors. The school may be less well-known as a factory for CEOs, but according to Dean Garrette, HEC (MBA and other degrees) is ranked #4 worldwide for the number of alumni holding CEO positions in Fortune 50 companies.
• HEC, like many MBA programs, invests enormous time and energy in career development. Indeed, it is an integral part of the HEC program. The HEC career management curriculum is on one hand structured and at the same time individualized, with Fridays devoted to career management events
• While HEC’s Career Management Center (CMC) provides broad guidance to MBA students both as to the viability of their goals as well as to the best means for achieving them, realize that a member of the CMC sits on all admissions committee meetings, and post-MBA employability is clearly an admissions factor.
• I spoke to a finance professor whose name I unfortunately didn’t catch. He said that if one of his students wants to go into investment banking and has no related experience prior to the MBA, he discourages them from attempting to make the switch at this time. He says – and this makes a lot of sense to me – that since 2008 and the contraction of the financial industry, there are so many people seeking post-MBA investment banking positions who have that experience and a freshly minted MBA that it simply doesn’t make sense for banks to hire those with an MBA and no relevant experience. Banks can have both. Moral: Be realistic.
• The student panel was the last part of the program that I attended. Not surprisingly, the four students – all from different places – were happy with their HEC experience. They all enthused specifically about the geographic diversity of the student body and faculty. Talk about diversity at HEC clearly isn’t just hype or marketing.
I want to again thank HEC for hosting me and the other consultants. Paris is beautiful. The conference was informative. I welcomed the opportunity to learn more about this top European business school. And if you are seeking an MBA that either prepares you to live in Europe or offers you a European experience you too should make the effort to learn more about HEC.
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.
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This article originally appeared on the Accepted Admissions Consulting Blog, the official blog of Accepted.com.