Immersed in Consulting in the Middle East

Spring marks a much-awaited moment for consulting aficionados: the HEC Paris MBA’s consulting trek to Dubai. With a specific focus on the area’s largest firms, the annual voyage offers a unique opportunity to be immersed in the Middle East’s strategy consulting world.

This year was no exception. Upon wrapping up core term exams, 25 MBA students, accompanied by the HEC Career Center’s consulting specialist, embarked on the 4-day trek.

MBAs at Emirates

MBAs at Emirates

Day 1: Our first company visit was with Monitor Deloitte, where we met senior consultants, directors and the regional talent-management director. We then journeyed to Schneider Electric’s strategy unit, and were greeted by the head of the Dubai office. During both visits, company presentations were followed by Q&A sessions, teaching us about the biggest driver of the area’s consulting projects: the Saudi Arabia National Transformation Program 2020.

Day 2: Thursday is the busiest recruitment day in Dubai, since consultants are back in the office following their weekly travels. We kicked off the day in Bain’s offices in the Dubai Media City. In addition to the office’s unmatched views of the Gulf, the space had recently been redesigned to encourage teamwork and collaboration. We learned about Bain’s inception in the Middle East and its core sectors, and met with Eric Beranger, MBA’02,  Antonio Linardi, Anouar El Ibrahimi, MBA ’18, and Othmane Khelil, MBA ’17.

Bain knows how to welcome HEC Paris students

Bain knows how to welcome HEC Paris students

Afterward, we headed to the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC) to be introduced to the HR team of McKinsey. Immediately after lunch, we stopped at Strategy& and met Haroon Sheikh, partner, and several HEC alumni. We learned that Strategy& was the first consulting firm in the region, establishing its presence in 1993!

Last but not least, we met partners Laurent Viviez, Sean Wheeler and Gael Rouilloux, MBA ’05, in AT Kearney Dubai’s newly renovated space. It was exciting to see the number of HEC Paris MBA alumni working for the company. We networked with Sauvik Tegta, Ashish Singhal, Uliana Schepelina and Sheldon D’Souza. We also greeted Bassam Ben Ghozlen, MBA ’18, who had attended the Dubai trek the year prior and who had just started as a consultant.

Day 3: Boyden Executive Search’s founder provided us with a fascinating presentation of the state of affairs in Dubai and the Middle East and the current trends in the consulting market.

MBAs at Schneider Electric

Inside Schneider Electric’s Dubai office

Our second meeting that day was at the Dubai Design district with Simon Kucher & Partners, a consulting firm focused on strategy and marketing. We participated in business cases and learned about their unique approach focusing on revenues and profits to generate top and bottom line growth strategies.

We ended the day back at the DIFC with Alix Partners, where we learned about their work on operational-efficiency improvement and met with their HR team.

Day 4: We visited Emirates at the Emirates Headquarters, which is located adjacent to the world’s busiest airport (as measured by international passenger traffic). To reach their office, we walked among airline crews reporting for duty. Once there, we learned about the intriguing operational and strategy opportunities and threats that the Emirates strategy team has to tackle as the world’s largest airline. We also met senior management including Christoph Mueller (former CEO of Malaysia Airlines & Aer Lingus), Sheila Nazareth (Head of Internal Consulting) and Abdulaziz Al Ali (EVP of Human Resources). Thanks to HEC Paris alumna Vanshi Kotru, MBA ’12, for organizing such an inspirational visit!

Our second meeting of the day was with Arthur D Little, where we were given a tour of their growing office by an HEC Paris MBA alumni who had just joined in January. We then attended a presentation, which was followed by refreshments and networking with several HEC alums. The company also shared an internship opportunity exclusively open to trek attendees.

Our final meeting of the week was with Delta Partners, an advisory and investment firm specialized in telecoms, media and technology. We met with their young and dynamic team who shared a day-to-day breakdown of their routine.

Weekend and Evenings

Of course, we also spent time bonding with classmates. We organized dinners together, visited Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi, had fun at Jumeirah Beach in front of the Burj Al Arab (the world’s only 7 star hotel), and drinks at At.mosphere on the 122nd floor of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. What a week it was!

Networking with Alumni

We concluded the trek with a cocktail hour at the Ritz Carlton Hotel hosted by the HEC GCC Alumni Committee’s President, Mehdi El Amine Fichtali. It was a wonderful opportunity to network informally with numerous HEC Paris alumni and spend even more time in this fascinating region of the world.

Text by Teejana Beenessreesingh

Teejana BeenessreesinghTeejana Beenessreesingh was an Investment Banker and Portfolio Manager in New York. Born in Mauritius, she founded a social enterprise which merges curated travel with unique shopping experiences from emerging designers globally. Teejana graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Management Science and Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Teejana decided to join the HEC Paris MBA to transition to the luxury sector. She is the President of the HEC Luxury Club, Vice President of the Private Equity and Venture Capital club, a Career Representative and the Advisory Chair to the Women in Leadership Club. Her contribution at HEC Paris includes launching a luxury conference and organizing treks in Milan, Paris and China. She is currently working on a paper studying behavioral patterns of luxury consumers across the largest global luxury markets.