MBAT, Potlucks & Pride: Memories of the HEC Paris MBA

When Nefe Otomi, MBA ’20, organized an Instagram takeover for the Class of 2020, the response was overwhelming. For three solid days, the stories flooded in. The MBA’s social media was tagged in literally hundreds of photos. We reposted images of masked balls and lakeside barbecues, birthday celebrations and pool parties, weekend trips and visits to Paris—and so much more. Muffin, the MBA’s unofficial mascot, made his appearance, as did the “twins” Prabhu and Vidur. The takeover was spontaneous, fun and moving.

That was back in April. And with social media being what it is, the only lasting trace of that takeover is a few hastily captured screenshots (shown at the top of this post). To give our S18 and J19 intakes—otherwise known as the mighty HEC Paris MBA Class of 2020—the chance to reminisce together one last time, we asked them to reshare their favorite MBA memories with us. This is their response.

Luis Raúl Martínez, S18 intake

“After months of work, countless meetings, negotiations, tests, and tastings, the time finally came! Nefe (who was in charge of the gala) and I stand by Salle Wagram’s entrance to welcome our 1,500 guests to MBAT 2019’s Masquerade Gala & Closing Ceremony. Watching people so dressed-up and excited made it all worth it.”

Nefe and Luis at the HEC Paris MBA's MBAT Gala

Nefe and Luis at the MBAT Gala

Hana Wilson, J19 intake

“One of my favorite HEC Paris MBA memories was winning the championship for women’s basketball at MBAT with the HEC team. As a female athlete, I love connecting with women and being part of how we empower each other through movement and sports and camaraderie at every age and demographic. There’s so much focus on men’s competitive team sports. It was great getting to know the women in my cohort better, and kind of destroying other teams…”

The champion women's basketball team from the HEC Paris MBA

Hana (3rd from left) and the MBAT-winning women’s basketball team

Davina Chang, J19 intake

“The most memorable part of my HEC MBA experience didn’t take place on campus. Instead, it took place almost 8,000 km away in Kolkata, India, where a group of us had travelled to celebrate our classmate Prashray’s wedding last December. Exploring a new country is exciting in itself, but doing so with a diverse group of fun-loving, open-minded individuals was what made the experience so special. For me, that trip was exactly what my HEC experience represented: a chance to reach different cultures, a platform to build new friendships, and an opportunity to broaden my horizon.”

Davina Chang's favorite HEC Paris MBA memory is of a classmate's wedding

Davina (5th from left) traveled 8000 km with classmates

Chitwan Loond, J19 intake

“Campus BBQs! The summer of 2019 was the best time of my life. It isn’t an MBA if you haven’t done a LATAM BBQ, an Indian Holi, a Chinese New Year, and an American Thanksgiving with your friends for life. The cultural events gave us something to look forward to every month, an opportunity to immerse ourselves in different experiences and a way to build bonds with our colleagues from across the globe.”

Chitwan Loond is in the middle of the action in the MBA memory

The students that BBQ together, stay together, with Chitwan in the center

Clare Cartwright, S18 intake

“One of my favorite memories from the HEC Paris MBA was joining the Bocconi Luxury & Arts Club’s annual conference. This example might come as a surprise, but the HEC Retail & Luxury Club shares many of the same values as the Bocconi Luxury & Arts Club. The trip really emphasized the power of an MBA for providing unexpected opportunities to enrich both personal and professional experiences.

Many of us traveled to Milan to attend the conference. Five of us stayed to join the Bocconi sailing regatta. We shared a boat with students from INSEAD and Cass and, despite enduring bad weather and a trip to the Lerici emergency services (RIP Edgar’s nose!), we had a wonderful weekend creating new friendships and cementing existing ones.

The clubs at HEC are such a fantastic way to expand sector knowledge. They also allow you to build your network across other business schools and have a lot of fun while doing so!”

Gala night at the Bucconi regata

Gala night at the Bucconi sailing regata, with Clare (right)

Asaf Goldberg, S18 intake

“Looking back, one of the most memorable parts of my HEC MBA experience didn’t take place on campus. It actually took place in Israel, my home country, when my classmate and I organized HEC Paris’ first-ever trek to Tel Aviv. We enjoyed an unforgettable week, packed with high-profile company visits, cultural events, diversity panels, great food, and breathtaking views. For me, it was exactly what HEC Paris MBA is all about: experiencing new cultures, expanding your horizon, and forming new, life-lasting friendships and memories.”

Favorite MBA memories of HEC Paris MBA student Asaf Goldberg

Asaf (3rd, left) and other MBA students at the Dead Sea

Dhruv Chhabra, J19 intake

“In our first term, we had a course on Statistics & Business Analytics. Professor Xavier Boute was our teacher and had a unique style of teaching. In one of our classes, he came in and announced that he would talk about a statistical technique, ‘cluster analysis’. We listened normally as we would in any other class. But next, he went towards his laptop, projected a slide with a few scattered dots and started playing the song Hotel California. And with that music in the background he said with an amused expression, ‘We are going to understand today how clustering is so similar to a P-bar party – how initially the party starts with everyone alone and gradually, some commonalities start to cluster people together and until at the very end, the whole crowd is dancing together as one cluster.’ As he went on with this funny yet profound explanation, the whole class laughed and thoroughly enjoyed the session. We all have been in many classes before, but Professor Boute made this one truly special and memorable for all of us.”

Professor Xavier Boute's statistics class is a favorite MBA memory

Professor Boute makes sure MBAs really understand statistics

Nikhil Nangia, J19 intake

“A unique part of the MBA Program at HEC Paris is that participants must spend three days at an off-campus leadership seminar held at The Ecole Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr. Each of us had the opportunity to be a leader chosen for a challenge, commanding a team of 10 peers. The physical and mental challenges (e.g., building a bridge to get my team to cross a river, military crisis management, traversing a rope 300 feet above ground, building a boat to cross a lake, getting everyone to cross a high wall, etc.) taught me how to motivate others even when I was outside my own comfort zone. The experience was truly unforgettable.”

Favorite MBA memories include the Off campus leadership seminar at Saint Cyr

Nikhil (far right) and his team at Saint-Cyr

Corey Leung, S18 intake

“My favorite MBA memory is the 2019 Talent Show After Party. It was the last time that many of us would spend with our batchmates before we went back into the real world. It was a night of music, food, and wine that ended with all of us arm-in-arm singing Aerosmith’s I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing at the top of our lungs. Many laughs were had and a few tears were shed. It was the perfect ending to 16 of the most memorable months of my life.”

Core Leaung and his peers at the Talent Show

Corey’s photo of his batch mates, taken at the Talent Show After Party

Nazneen Ahmed, S18 intake

“I have always found the language of food to be universal and the experience at HEC was no different. I started organizing potlucks where everyone would bring one dish to share. One time, I hosted a shakshuka cook-off with three different versions cooked right in my dorm room! It is amazing how talented some of my classmates were in the kitchen. Pictured here is one of my favorite memories, that of an asado. We all pitched in for a LATAM-style barbecue on the pit by the lake where we devoured massive quantities of meat while listening to reggaeton.”

LATAM-style BBQ complete with reggaeton and Naz (1st row, left)

Nefe Etomi, S18 intake

“One night that really stands out was Battle of the Bands during MBAT. We had started out with a decent-sized band, and one by one, for various reasons, people dropped out. The morning of the competition, we weren’t even sure we were going to perform. Long story short, we performed, and we rocked the house in front of 1,500 people. We had the BEST time ever! Once we focused not on winning but on just having fun, it was incredible. I think that spirit really got through to the audience.

It was a big lesson in resilience for me. Everything can look like it’s going against you, but if you focus on the right thing and have good, positive people supporting and working with you, you can always pull through! Every time I think back to that night, I get a big smile on my face. We all know MBAT is a crazy, intense and incredibly fun time, and if I could, I’d go back and do it all over again.”

Nefe Etomi at the battle of the bands

Nefe (center) with her bandmates

Oliver Chen, S18 intake

“Pictured is our last gathering as core team on the first night post MBAT. We were so tired but happy and relaxed. It was a roller coaster of 7 months. We laughed, cried, argued, and continued solving problems coming our way. Without these incredible human beings, we wouldn’t make it. Secretly, not so anymore, I had been looking forward to this moment for quite a while, and was so happy when it finally happened ?.”

Oliver Chen and the MBAT Core team with one day down, two days to go

Oliver (seated, far right) and the MBAT Core Team

Nikita Rustagi, J19 intake

 “An iconic day during my MBA was the Pride Parade in Paris during the summer of 2019. It was a memorable time of inclusion, colors and joyful celebration–very representative of my MBA experience. The spray-on blue hair, non-stop dancing from morning to night with thousands of people, followed by the French firemen spraying water on us in the crazy summer heat just added to the fun. What made it so special was celebrating this with all my friends in the MBA. While we are all business graduates in formals most of the time, it was on this day that we all let our hair down and as humans, celebrated a purpose. This is what the HEC Paris MBA experience is all about. Also, the HEC banner and T-shirts just made it cooler!”

A best MBA Memory of Nikita is the pride parade

Nikita’s selfie at the 2019 Pride Parade


Aditya Garg, J19 intake

“I always wanted to showcase the rich Indian BBQ food spread to my batchmates and the staff at HEC. The BBQ during the Welcome Games for the September 2019 intake was a perfect setup. Peeyush (another J19 student) and I managed to cook delicious food for more than 170+ people. We had never prepped and cooked so much food before in our entire lives. This extraordinary feat just made us realize that we can achieve anything if we want to.”

Master of the BBQ, Aditya Garg

Master of the BBQ, Aditya Garg

Paul-Emeric Willette, S18 intake

“This is a picture from one of the French conversation sessions that we were running every week in the P-bar. Noémie, Jon and Cody started this great initiative. Anyone, with any level of French, could join and speak (or just listen to) French in a comfy setting! Wine always helps to speak a foreign language, doesn’t it?

I will always remember the many informal gatherings with my fellows. They were always relaxed, but at the same time great opportunities to learn about each other, our backgrounds, our cultures.

Back to the French conversations sessions: I think that the picture is a great summary of my experience at HEC: international, intense and people-focused.”

French conversation anyone? A favorite HEC Paris MBA memory of Paul-Emeric Willette

French conversations with Paul-Emeric (seated, blue sweater)

Liz Miller, J19 intake

“One of the most impactful experiences I had during my MBA was our leadership seminar at St. Cyr. It was the first time during the program that I truly felt like a leader. Even now looking back, I still remember how proud I was being able to conquer my fear of heights. My teammates told me I inspired them because I did all the activities even though I was scared to death and showed my vulnerability. I learned to bring the team together, encourage others, and be brave. This experience is something that gave me the courage to take on bigger responsibilities later in the MBA, such as being an advocate for the LGBT community.”

Liz Miller's best MBA Memory is the Off-Campus Leadership Seminar

Liz takes on the high line at the Off-Campus Leadership Seminar