Leadership Skills for Good – The Social Impact Project

This fall, students from the graduating HEC Paris MBA class of 2023 participated in the Social Impact Project, a leadership project that allows them to give back to the local community.

Coming from all over the world, HEC Paris MBA students make a home on our campus in Jouy-en-Josas for 16 months. Some travel to France with their partners and families. No matter what, there is adjustment, there are cultural codes to learn, in many cases a new language. While not required to speak French fluently, students often leave HEC with the ability to order a baguette, a coffee, take public transport, eat at a restaurant or navigate a museum or other cultural event. Many make French friends and embrace opportunities to travel beyond Paris. France becomes their home away from home. The Social Impact Project gives them the chance to give back to the community that will always have a place in their hearts.

The new project takes place in the final term and was designed as a way for MBA participants to demonstrate the leadership skills they have honed throughout their time here. Working in small groups to complete various pieces of a whole project, they are asked to cooperate, project manage, learn new skills, work with respect to safety regulations, and complete their plan within the span of one day.

“Construction tasks are something which most of the group was unfamiliar with. We had to learn to use most of the tools on-the-go and also keep pushing forward to complete the task,” says Amol Lottey, who participated in the project with Splash.

Luckily, they’ve been training for this all along. “The most important skill (from our MBA studies) which helped us immensely was strategizing on the various tasks of a project that was completely unknown to us a day before the activity.”

While HEC Paris MBA participants are more than capable of thinking on their feet, a construction project requires the use of power tools. With the supervision and expertise of the Splash team, students were trained to saw, sand and drill. Everyone wanted a chance to cut boards with the table saw, and Splash staff was happy to oblige, giving thorough training to anyone with the willingness to try.

Splash Projects was developed in 2006 as a way to create meaningful change in the world, by mobilizing groups in favor of a local outcome. Founder Simon Poole was on site for the unveiling of this fall’s HEC Paris project at BUC Ressources, a school of social work that is part of La Sauvegarde des Yvelines, a non-profit serving the eponymous region. Poole and his team spent time on the grounds coming up with a project that would best serve the community.

The school, only 15 minutes from HEC’s Jouy-en-Josas campus, needed gathering spaces for the many social work students, local volunteers and participants in their programs, many of whom have mild to severe disabilities. The Splash team drew up plans for a gazebo, outdoor seating areas, a garden for herbs and flowers, an outdoor games court and a bike shelter.

“I feel very grateful to the students, for Splash Projects, and for HEC. These improvements to our facilities are very important for our association,” says Bruno Mouchard of La Sauvegarde des Yvelines.

HEC Paris MBA students visited the site on opening day and came face-to-face with the community to whom they had been in direct service, able to see the spaces used for play and relaxation even on a chilly fall day. Everyone was invited to plant in the prepared raised garden beds, and a group of grateful kids showed off their dribbling skills on the new paved court.

“Giving back to the community which has so gladly accepted us for more than a year has been extremely fulfilling,” adds Mr. Lottey. “Getting to work on something which is going to be used regularly, gave us a sense of pride as we worked over the duration of the project.”

The Social Impact Project is part of the MBA’s leadership program, which includes other activities like the Outdoor Leadership Seminar. Students in the HEC MBA develop skills by participating in unforgettable and unique experiences designed to challenge them in new ways. It’s a model of learning-by-doing that creates lasting memories for everyone involved.