With admission deadlines coming closer, more and more applicants are getting serious about their applications. Along with that, it is also important to choose the right business schools and know more about what they look for in their prospective students.

We got in touch with the admissions team at HEC Paris to know more about their flagship MBA program, career prospects and application help for prospective students.

Q. HEC is definitely one of the best business schools in the world. What do you think makes it stand out from the rest, maybe compared to LBS or INSEAD, etc?

What differentiates HEC Paris MBA from others around the globe is the excellent combination of students, Faculty, alumni, curricula and leadership activities we provide.

In September 2012 we launched an exciting new curriculum following a review completed in 2011, in partnership with the worldwide known consulting company, Bain and Company. Bain worked with global MBA recruiters to analyze exactly what they looked for in MBA recruits, and we transposed their findings into our new program.

The experience students live here at HEC is shaped by the ideal class size and diversity; we welcome over 50 nationalities to each class, with an average size of around 220 participants. All students follow two phases; Fundamental and Customized which secure solid foundations in core business areas, and allow personalization with opportunities for international exchanges, double degrees, specializations and a wide range of electives.

Our emphasis on transformation ensures our graduates are personally engaged with their projects, and leave us with a truly entrepreneurial mindset. We understand that leadership comes from experience; our students learn from hands on exercises such as our annual Sustainable Business Conference, the world-famous MBAT and our original St-Cyr Leadership Seminar during which students spend two days in the elite military training center, benefiting from the opportunity to practice their decision-making skills.

An MBA graduate from HEC Paris comes prepared for the world, fully equipped with the best knowledge and experience and eager to become global and responsible leaders.  Our program works; our latest graduating class proves this with 72% making a job sector change, 71% changing their job function and 50% changing job location. Our top recruiters reflect our participants’ abilities; Amazon, General Electric, L’Oreal, McKinsey, AT Kearney and BNP Paribas to name just a few who value our graduates.

Q. I noticed on the website that you have two intakes, September and January. Are both these programs exactly the same? Is there an added benefit of studying in the September batch maybe with respect to job opportunities, etc.?

We provide two intake options and two timing options; September and January Full-Time intakes and a Part-Time option commencing in January each year.

All participants, regardless of their intake or time option benefit from the same Faculty, curriculum and opportunities. We offer the choices to increase the flexibility for our participants, as we understand and appreciate the commitment of completing an MBA. Our classes are generally comprised of 2/3 participants from September intakes and 1/3 from January intakes, however participants work consistently in groups and teams made up from both intakes.

Q. What is the profile of an ideal candidate at HEC Paris? What are the major things that the admissions committee looks for in an application?

At HEC MBA, we generally welcome high potential participants, averaging 30 years old and benefiting from around 6 years management experience. Over recent years we have seen an increase in the quality of our applications demonstrating a true desire from candidates to increase their professional potential and international outreach.

We value participants with solid academic backgrounds, and appreciate international exposure. Ambitious candidates with coherent professional projects and aims fit well with our program and ethos; this is often demonstrated to us through significant career progression and a real drive to succeed.   In a globalized world it is vitally important for us to attract candidates with the highest levels of transferable skills and knowledge, ready for international contexts.

Q. We all know that major European markets are still feeling the crunch from the Euro crisis. At this point of time, how easy is it for the MBA students to secure a job locally in France?

Our program transforms students into well-rounded global leaders rather than focusing on one sector or function, meaning the placement of our students does not suffer from changes in the French, or global market. In 2012 49% of our graduates secured careers in Western Europe (including France), 21% in Asia and 12% in the USA. Securing careers across the globe is another indicator of a strong MBA program – graduates with not only the ability to change function or sector, but location too.  Our top recruiters such as Bain and Company, McKinsey, BCG, Schneider Electric and Amazon look for skills developed in France, yet in an international context.

On a similar note, large French multinationals with whom HEC Paris has privileged links, favor graduates with international profiles with the conviction that this could support their own international development, regardless of the sector.  90% of our graduates secure jobs within three months of graduating, a statistic that has remained stable over the past three years.

Q. Does HEC Paris help MBA students and alumni in entrepreneurship opportunities? If yes, how?

Training students to start, grow and manage companies has always been part of the HEC Paris mission, and even more so of recent times. Interest in entrepreneurship is extremely strong amongst HEC students; the number of applicants to our Entrepreneurship specialization doubled from 2011 to 2012. Innovative and creative students on our program believe the best response to the current worldwide economic situation is to build new companies or to lead SMEs and grow them with ambition.

Most schools teach innovation, we teach entrepreneurship. We do believe that it is possible to teach someone to become an entrepreneur provided one has the required qualities. Contrary to conventional wisdom, we believe that being innovative is not required. Technological innovations are everywhere around us. The most important quality of an entrepreneur is to identify, understand, screen and evaluate innovations, to convince innovators to collaborate and to set up the adequate team of people to build a business. Innovations are plentiful; the ability to build a business from scratch is rare.

Our teaching is based on simulating the creation of virtual startups. Each student is part of a four-person team and works for eight months as a co-founder of a virtual startup. In each team, participants act as the CEO, CFO, CTO and VP Sales & Marketing.

Our mission is not to encourage people to take risks blindly; it is to provide them with the training that helps them decide whether they want to take the risk.

Q. Is there any kind of funding opportunity for students wanting to pursue the HEC MBA?

Completing an MBA is a once in a lifetime opportunity, the financial investment of which is quickly rewarded with an average salary increase of over 100% from pre to post MBA. Besides the financial investment and reward, an MBA experience equally requires a personal investment, rewarded by personal transformation.

We believe our MBA fees are extremely competitive, especially so when considering the personal and transformative experience students receive, and when comparing to schools of a similar standard. Scholarships are available are a based on both need and merit; and application is simple. Once admitted, candidates are guided by the admissions team to the appropriate scholarship. Most applications are completed online, and we advise candidates to begin the application as early as possible as some require more time than others. The wide range of scholarships available vary from 6K€ to 24K€, and thanks to the HEC Foundation and the Alumni who donate to the School, the MBA grants €1.000.000 every year to admitted candidates. Current scholarships available include the Forté Scholarship for women, helping to improve leadership opportunities for women in business, and many corporate scholarships from companies such as L’Oreal and Alcatel-Lucent.

Q. What advice would you give to those who are starting to fill out their admissions forms? How can they make their applications better?

A high-class MBA is a transformative experience for participants, highlighting the importance in selecting the right school and course with regards to the candidate’s personality, ambitions and career objectives. This is why we highly recommend candidates to interact with schools, their current students, Faculty and Alumni as much as possible in order to make a well-informed decision. This interaction will be reflected in candidate’s application forms and throughout the process as a whole.

When the candidate has made their decision, the job falls to the Admissions department to assess if the candidate fits well with the school.


We hope the above information helps you with your application to HEC Paris. If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments section below.

Published by Prateek Panda

Prateek is an entrepreneur with a passion for business and business studies. He loves reading, photography, music and is a technology journalist too. He runs a tech news and startup review site, TheTechPanda.com. You can know more about him at About.Me/PrateekPanda