Shikha Malhotra talks about what it's like to do an international exchange at the HEC Paris MBA

2 Schools and 1 Fulfilling MBA Experience

During the last leg of my MBA at NUS Business School Singapore, I decided to do an international exchange at one of the oldest and most prestigious business schools in Europe – HEC Paris, an institution known for its globally influential alumni.

While an exchange in Europe is incredibly exciting, I was a bit nervous about knowing enough French. Thankfully, the language skills I had picked up during my school days were enough to get me by in shops and restaurants and with Uber drivers.

“On-campus events cannot be missed for the sheer fun of meeting new people from all over the world” -Shikha Malhotra

September 2019's exchange students, coming from 38 universities around the world

September 2019’s exchange students came from 38 universities around the world

The first thing you notice when you arrive at HEC Paris is the huge, breathtakingly beautiful campus. I spent as much time as possible in between classes enjoying its lush green lawns and charming lake. Unfortunately, I arrived too late in the year to participate in the lakeside BBQs that are organized once springtime arrives.

HEC Paris is known for its convivial Thursday night celebrations. Whether these are student-club initiatives complete with DJs and dancing or MBA-wide cultural celebrations, the on-campus events cannot be missed for the sheer fun of meeting new people from all over the world. To smooth my transition into this close-knit group of students, I had used the social and professional networks to reach out to current students and alumni before I arrived on campus. They gave me useful tips for everything under the sun: visas, accommodation options (both on and off campus), career opportunities, food, culture and even travel ideas in France and beyond!

Morin Oluwole, Global Head of Luxury at Facebook, Instagram & Whatsapp, for an insightful Shikha with Morin Oluwole, Global Head of Luxury at Facebook, Instagram & WhatsApp

Shikha with Morin Oluwole, Global Head of Luxury at Facebook, Instagram & WhatsApp

As one of the most active student council members at NUS, I had learned that, regardless of where you are, adding value to the business-school community brings immense satisfaction and gives you a lot to cherish when you look back on the experience. At HEC Paris, I continued in that spirit by hosting Morin Oluwole, Global Head of Luxury at Facebook, Instagram & WhatsApp, for an insightful evening about the use of social networks in the luxury sector. The members of the MBA’s Retail & Luxury Club happily let an exchange student run the show on their home ground. Similar to NUS, the student clubs are really dynamic here and the opportunities they offer for personal and professional growth are tremendous.

A big part of why I chose HEC Paris for my exchange was their Digital Innovation Specialization. As part of this intensive program, I was able to spend time at a French organization to better understand their digital transformation endeavors, and the challenges they face with changing consumer preferences.

Shikha with members of the HEC Paris MBA's Retail and Luxury Club

Members of the HEC Paris MBA’s Retail and Luxury Club

Prior to my travel, I sought help from the exchange coordinators at both schools. They understood my pre-exchange anxieties and ensured that the transition was smooth and seamless. Anyone considering an exchange during their MBA should get in touch with their respective coordinators and seek guidance on processes and formalities well in advance.

In between all of these unforgettable experiences, I also found time to travel to six European countries–I’m actually catching a flight to the seventh one as I write this!–and was able to explore unique lifestyles and learn so much about myself in the process.

I would like to say that three months, one fascinating specialization and seven countries later, my MBA is ending on a more fulfilling note than I had expected. Here’s thanking everyone at NUS Business School and HEC Paris for making my journey worth every penny.

Text by Shikha Malhotra

Shikha Malhotra (NUS '20 and HEC Paris MBA Exchange '19) graduated as an Electronics and Communication Engineer in India. After over 5 years of experience in online advertising and digital strategy for a multinational organization and overseas startups, Shikha decided to pursue her MBA from NUS Business School to hone her leadership and business skills for the Asian digital environment. She led the Women in Business Club in the NUS MBA Student Council 2018-19, was recognized by the Graduate Business Forum (Paris, 2019) for her responsible leadership in the area of gender diversity, and also represented NUS as one of the top 100 MBA students at the MBA World Summit (Sydney, 2019). She came to the HEC Paris MBA for her final semester starting September 2019 to build on her knowledge of digital transformation, especially in the retail and luxury sectors.