Being an MBA partner is a unique opportunity to explore a new culture and meet people from around the world. To learn more, we asked Agustina, current President of the HEC Paris MBA Partners Club, to share her experience. She and her husband Francisco Mathó moved from Uruguay to France when Francisco became part of the school’s September 2020 intake.
What were you doing professionally before arriving at HEC Paris?
I was working in Uruguay, my home country, in healthcare centers (I’m a Medical Doctor) and as a Content Writer in a cosmetics start-up.
Did you have any concerns when you heard your partner was accepted into the program?
Honestly, no. I’m quite adventurous. Also, I was born in a campus in Belgium while my parents had a similar (and much longer) experience, so I guess the idea didn’t sound that crazy to me. I was certain it was going to be as amazing as challenging, and I was all in for that.
Did you feel like this was a time of growth and accomplishment for you? If so, what were you able to accomplish?
It’s definitely been a time of growth and accomplishment, both personally and professionally. As a just-married couple, this was like an accelerated marriage course! Moving to a new country during the pandemic (with everything virtual) meant being together 24/7 while navigating challenges of all sorts, so we grew a lot individually and as a couple. I will always treasure this first year of marriage at HEC!
As a partner you are also immersed in this vibrant international community, and I grew a lot from the tons of people I met and the new friends I made.
Professionally, this experience abroad opened new doors for me, as I decided to pursue an online Master’s degree at the University of Birmingham in Global Ethics and Justice. Had I stayed in my home country, I would have probably pursued my residency training in Psychiatry right away after med school, so I am very excited about this postgraduate degree that I’m sure will have such a positive impact on me and my career.
Finally, I was able to test myself in jobs and activities I had never tried before, from babysitting to being the President of the Partners Club and trying new hobbies and sports in the beautiful campus gym.
What is the Partners Club like at HEC?
Depending on the batch, it can be more or less active, but it’s always a lovely group where you can share chats, meals and plans. My batch was a very busy one (we were all working or studying or raising kids or all those at the same time), but we were nevertheless able to make lots of memories together.
We had the pleasure of inaugurating the amazing Family Room, which is a space created especially for HEC families. It includes a lounge and playroom, tables, a kitchen, a dormitory area for kids to take a nap, and a toilet. There’s a playground just outside. This space basically became our meeting point, and having it has allowed everyone to feel more connected.
The September ’21 MBA batch that has just arrived is very active and the Partners Club will soon have a new President, so I’m sure many more exciting things are just around the corner for partners!
How were you able to integrate into life on campus?
The MBA and the greater HEC Paris community are very friendly and open. We can engage in all the MBA activities that aren’t strictly curricular or professional. That includes joining any social MBA Club (Arts, Media and Entertainment, Women in Leadership, LGBT+ and Allies, Wine, Spirits and Beers, French Connection, and many, many more), going to every party on campus, traveling alongside students, enjoying the sports classes at the gym, and literally anything we want!
The campus is beautiful, and all that nature is yours to enjoy while walking around the lake or playing pétanque with friends by the Château.
What are some of the highlights of your time here?
There are many highlights but I would say one trip we did to Belgium and another trip we did to Italy. We had the most amazing time! Paris is really ideal for moving around Europe and visiting so many places! We are currently planning a trip to Mont-Saint-Michel.
Has the “French experience” met your expectations?
I became a big fan of France. Through the Partners Club (and its interaction with HEC’s various offices), my job at the HEC Language Resource Center and my job as a babysitter, I had the opportunity to meet the local community and be immersed in the French culture, which I really enjoyed. I am definitely impressed by the kindness and warmth I have experienced in France!
We spent a lot of time exploring France, including:
- Visits to numerous museums (I’m in love with Pompidou!) and châteaux (highly recommend the Soirée aux Chandelles during the summer in Vaux-le-Vicomte).
- Lots of picnics at the Champ de Mars, Le Jardin du Luxembourg and Versailles Grand Canal.
- Walks along the Seine. My favorite spot where we stopped every time: Place Dauphine. (Also bought a vegan donut at Café Shakespeare & Company every time, too!)
- A magical Vivaldi concert at the beautiful Sainte Chapelle (Please, go! Best thing you’ll do!)
Do you have any advice for someone looking to join the HEC community as a partner?
My main pieces of advice:
- Learn French before coming (as much as you can). I didn’t, and my working options (which were open to me because I having a passport from an EU country as well as my Uruguayan passport) were limited to English-speaking ones. Also, living in a country where you don’t speak the language is not easy. Your experience will definitely improve in all ways if you are able to speak a little bit of French!
- Have your own goals, and work towards them. This chapter of your life as a couple will be even better if it’s a relevant step in the path of each of you. Sixteen months are long enough to check off a couple of personal goals, so make that list and work toward your own objectives. Enrolling in a course yourself, going through the list of must-read books, raising kids, making new friends, traveling, picking up a new hobby, doing an internship, volunteering, learning a new language, enjoying a gap year… whatever your goal is, make sure you prioritize it and pursue it.
No ideas yet? No worries, you can figure it out on campus! You’ll see that the MBAs have a very clear idea of who they are and what they want, so it becomes kind of contagious. 😉 This will be an inspiring and transformational time for you too. Enjoy! ❤