What I Wish I’d Known when I was a Student

Where do you want to be in five years’ time? It’s a question most of us ask ourselves, yet we often fail to think of the bumps we may face along the way. The Executive Committee on Campus (TEC) gives HEC Paris MBA students the unique opportunity to meet CEOs and other experts, and to hear how they survived the most challenging periods in their own lives. At our most recent on-campus MBA alumni event, we welcomed back former TEC participants who have used these invaluable insights to aid them in their own journeys. In turn, they shared with us what they wish they’d known as students.

Here are our favorite insights.

Photo of Antonio Mont'alverne

Antonio Mont’alverne gives advice based on his job search

1. Find a career that you love

“Know your drivers. Know what makes you wake up in the morning and motivates you to go to work. Look for a job that will feed your passion, and have the self-awareness to refuse any job that does not fit with your dreams. In any job, you’re going to have hard days, you’re going to have terrible days, and days that completely suck. Some days things will go great, though. And those days will remind you exactly why you chose to do the work that you do.” Antonio Mont’Alverne, MBA ’18


2. Build a brand

“Build your brand, and be able to sell yourself in any situation. For me, a brand is your elevator pitch. It’s one sentence which explains the benefits you bring to a company. In my case, my personal brand is to help large companies execute their digital transformation by providing digital advice or a digital strategy. This is what I sell to every company that I talk to. This is a very simple one-liner I’ve been building for the past few years and I’ve become really good at it. Become an expert at selling your expertise.” Pamela Chin Foo, MBA ’11


3. Find an organization that values you and lets you grow

“Choose a work environment where you can learn. The world is changing very fast and the pace of change is accelerating. In the next 10 years, we’ll see more change than in the last 100 years. Pick an environment in which you can learn and grow, at least for the next 10 to 15 years. When you are learning, you are more able to adapt to the disruption that is destined to hit almost every sector.” Alex Papapetropoulos, MBA ’14


Photo of Paulo Cobankiat

Paulo Cobankiat speaks at the TEC Alumni Reunion

4. Find a work-life balance

“Work life balance is really very important. Each of us has a different priority for taking the MBA; and for most of us, work is only a part of it. With me, for example, I focused on changing geography to Europe not only for better career opportunities, but also for a better quality of life, leisure and travel opportunities. Find something important outside of work that you feel passionate about. It’s important to remember that we work to live but we don’t live to work.”
Paulo Cobankiat, MBA ’18


5. Keep in contact

“I waited two years after I moved to Switzerland to attend my first HEC Paris event organized in my region. It was a small dinner – just nine people – and I was by far the most junior person in attendance. But out of those nine people there was a CEO, a senior VP, and a VP, all working in Fortune 500 companies. Even though it’s not obvious when you graduate that you’ll get a top job, in the HEC Paris network there are many alumni in senior positions, who are very happy to help you get what you are looking for – both in the corporate environment or in the entrepreneurship environment.” Alex Papapetropoulos, MBA ’14


6. Don’t accept your weaknesses

“Everyone says ‘play to your strengths, do what you’re best at’. You can’t be good at everything. I was always good at translating data to business insights, but other things, like coding, I wasn’t very good at. Instead of only concentrating on my strengths, I worked on my weaknesses. I joined a class – learning is so easy and accessible now – and made sure to improve on my weaknesses.” Prerna Sabarwal, MBA ’13