Student Voice: Tonny Yuliantino, MBA ’20

Securing a job at Boston Consulting Group requires standing head and shoulders above the competition. And to be headhunted by them, rather than having to apply in the first place, takes someone who really stands out. But that’s exactly what happened to Tonny Yuliantino. Shortly before finishing his undergraduate engineering degree in Indonesia, Tonny’s impressive academic performance earned him an invitation to an exclusive BCG gala held at his university. Attending the private event led to an internship offer, and he has since worked for the prestigious consulting firm for almost seven years.

The Seine and a bridge at dusk, with the Eiffel towel in the background is part of what HEC Paris MBA students see in Europe

Paris at dusk, captured by Tonny

After working his way up from Summer Business Analyst to Consultant, the company offered to sponsor his MBA degree. Upon graduating from the HEC Paris MBA in June 2020, Tonny will rejoin the prestigious consulting firm in its Jakarta office.

Management consulting has a reputation for being very deadline driven and demanding. What are your favorite aspects of it?

I have always liked problem solving, so consulting seemed like the right fit from the start. It really is a “no pain, no gain” industry. It can be demanding, but once you’ve completed a challenging assignment, you feel really accomplished. As a plus, the fast-paced nature and challenges of consulting at BCG make it great for personal development.

Why did you choose the HEC Paris MBA?

I ruled out American business schools because their MBA programs are too long. I then considered where in Europe would be the best place to study. France’s central location enables you to travel across Europe, and Paris is such a beautiful city, so it was my top choice. Then I chose the HEC Paris MBA because of its great reputation and beautiful campus.

Has Paris lived up to your expectations?

HEC Paris MBA student Tonny's picture of the Louvre at night

The Louvre at night, captured by Tonny

Paris has been a dream. I have been able to practice my new-found hobby of photography, and where better to do that than Paris? The people, the food and the architecture are all incredible. One of my favorite buildings is the Louvre – I’ve been at least five times, especially in the evening, spending up to three hours there to take pictures. The Sacré Coeur and the quaint, narrow and cobbled streets surrounding it in Montmartre are equally impressive.

I also love bakeries, so living near Paris has been great. Whenever I visit a new country, one of the first things I do is to find the best bakery nearby and buy croissants. Some of the best ones I’ve had in Paris have been at Blé Sucré and Maison d’Isabelle, but I also love Paul, which you can find all over the world.

What are your MBA highlights?

There are so many! I’m an extrovert, so the overall camaraderie with my MBA peers has been my personal highlight. From catching up at the campus P-Bar on Thursdays to weekend getaways, we always make time to socialize and have fun together. One weekend, 15 of us went to Luxembourg during the National Luxembourg Day celebrations. One peer is from there, so he showed us around and we had a great time.

Tonny and his MBA peers in Luxembourg

Tonny and his MBA peers in Luxembourg

Besides that, sporting events like the MBAT are second to none. The fact that we organize it and host so many universities makes it even more fun. In addition, the professors are not only supportive but also really make time to talk with us both in and out of the classroom. This helps to build both a professional relationship and a social one, and it’s great being able to spend time with such smart people.

The leadership exercises, such as the off-campus Leadership Seminar, are amazing too. This was a two-day leadership training hosted by the French military. The experience helped us to get to know and trust each other, and really helped with team building and leadership skills. It pushed me to my limits but showed me that I can overcome my fears if I put mind over matter. During one exercise, I had to jump from one high pillar to another. At the time I had a phobia of heights, but everyone was encouraging me to focus just on the goal of moving to the next pillar. I was so proud afterward of what I had accomplished.

What do you think makes a good leader?Tonny at Monserrat in France

A good leader knows how to encourage and motivate people while, at the same time, understands and takes into account the context of their lives. A good leader knows how to create psychological safety for their team, so that everyone can be innovative without worrying about making mistakes. This is similar to Amazon’s “fail fast” approach.

What are your biggest achievements?

In terms of my personal life, I consider the amount that I’ve travelled across Europe and America as one of my biggest achievements. During my MBA, I was fortunate enough to complete a three-month exchange to Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois. I managed to visit 12 states while living there, so I have visited 24 percent of the United States, but hope to see more in the future. I’ve also been able to visit nine European cities since I started my studies at HEC Paris.

In terms of my professional life, being hired by BCG was probably my most life-changing event. It made so many more opportunities possible. Becoming a Consultant completely changed my outlook on everything, because it has helped me to develop a great way of thinking about life’s problems in general. It has also made me more confident and improved my communication skills, including body language and nonverbal communications.