In April, HEC Paris MBA student-led clubs plan events around their club’s theme and current agenda. Often a networking boon, clubs connect with companies who welcome them to their offices (or hold an online meeting) and treat them to a presentation and Q&A.
In-person events provide an opportunity for participants to experience the environment and culture of a given company, not to mention a city. Opportunities for group lunches and a bit of sightseeing also present themselves, so MBAs can spend time among classmates. In many cases, it’s yet another way for alumni to connect with current students.
Online events add more flexibility for both company and MBA participant, and like in-person meetings, are a chance to ask questions of professionals and get a sense of the company and industry.
This year, treks included Consulting Club in Dubai, Tech Club in Amsterdam, Retail & Luxury Club in Milan, and Healthcare Club with a combination of online and in-person events in Paris.
We spoke to these four club presidents about the highlights and lessons learned during their Career Treks this spring.
HEC MBA Consulting Club
Club President: Ilias Arouel
Trek Destination: Dubai
Companies visited: Roland Berger, Mckinsey, Whiteshield, Accenture, KPMG, Four Principles, BCG, Kearney, Arthur D. Little, AlixPartners
What was the highlight of your club’s trek? During this trek, we connected with local HEC Alumni for a mixer. It was an excellent opportunity for us students to get direct insights from current professionals and people living there.
Describe the importance of this trek to your club: This trek was essential to our club for several reasons. We were able to engage with companies and create long lasting relationships. We continued cultivating existing relationships and created new ones with the main companies and recruiters in the region. Our hope is that this will continue to make HEC students attractive to these companies and gain traction for the next recruitment waves.
We were also able to get a feel for the local market and the dynamism of the region. The Middle East is a buzzing and highly growing region, and it was important for us to get a better sense of this market. Our trek convinced us that there will be opportunities for everyone!
What lessons did you/the club learn from the experience of coordinating this trek? Organizing a trek for 20+ students in not an easy task. One of the keys to the success of this trek was excellent collaboration between the club and Talents professionals (our career center). That coordination, coupled with getting an early start on organization, were critical to the success of this trip. Of course, we were lucky to have a diverse and professional group of students on the trek who facilitated the logistics.
Why are treks in general an important part of your experience of the HEC Paris MBA? Treks are an occasion to go meet companies directly in their environment. It gives a real sense of what a workday in a company looks like and helps students project themselves. It is also an important part of the MBA because it is one of the opportunities to travel altogether and share a unique moment outside the classroom. As the president of the Consulting Club but also as a student, it is definitely one of the highlights of my MBA journey.
Any other reflections you’d like to share? I would like to thank all the people who were involved in this amazing trek to Dubai. Starting from the club members to the HEC Talents (career center) staff, to the students who shared this experience with us. Thank you for your trust in the club and we hope this trek will help everyone in their job prospects.
MBA Healthcare Club
Club President: Anurag Danda
Trek Destination: Paris & Virtual
Companies visited: In Person: Sanofi, Eli Lilly, Bionest, Camber Collective, Becton Dickinson (presentation at HEC Alumni House, Paris); Virtual: LSC Consulting, AbbVie, SoPharma, BioTech X
What was the highlight of your club’s trek? We had 9 company presentations over 2.5 days, including 5 in-person visits.
Describe the importance of this trek to your club: This trek was extremely important, as we are reviving the Club and growing its outreach. We included the HEC Paris Executive MBA students as well, and had a great response from them.
What lessons did you/the club learn from the experience of coordinating this trek?
We were reminded of the importance of networking with companies across the Healthcare industry: Pharmaceuticals, Med-tech, Life-Sciences and Healthcare Consulting, Healthcare Finance/PE/VC , and Healthcare Start-ups.
Why are treks in general an important part of your experience of the HEC Paris MBA?
They give us a great opportunity to learn about companies, visit them, network, and learn industry specifics from very senior professionals. It broadens our outlook on employment opportunities.
Any other reflections you’d like to share?
The HEC Paris MBA Healthcare Club had a great experience doing this trek and building bridges with employers. We were joined by EMBAs, who are more senior professionals and shared their own senior management expertise with us. Next trek, we aim to double the number of companies visited over a full 5-day trip across different cities.
Retail and Luxury Club
Club President: Michael Moison
Trek Destination: Milan
Companies visited: Buccelati, Loro Piana, Prada, Campari, Dolce & Gabana OVS and the Sustainable Brand Platform.
What was the highlight of your club’s trek? The best part was our day spent with Loro Piana. Our contacts were generous enough to organize a full day of visits, including two factories outside Milan, a guided tour of their flagship store on Via Monte Napoleone and a cocktail meet & greet with HEC alum and CEO Damien Bertrand.
Describe the importance of this trek to your club: This is a yearly highlight for our club and was a fantastic opportunity to meet leaders in the industry and learn about the key challenges they face. For MBA students this gave insights into how different luxury “maisons” align quality of product/services with their business challenges.
What lessons did you/the club learn from the experience of coordinating this trek? This takes a lot of work and planning, and help can come from all places. Multiple club members and HEC Talents (our career center) used their networking skills and connections to make these encounters happen. We learned the importance of securing a big name up front, as companies like to hear who else you are visiting.
Why are treks in general an important part of your experience of the HEC Paris MBA? It is essential, in my opinion, to remind ourselves of what we are working towards, get an inside view of how these companies are run and confirm our interest in the industry.
Club President: Nancy Ding
Trek Destination: Amsterdam
Companies visited: Cisco, Uber, Wipro, TNW (The Next Web), and Picnic
What was the highlight of your club’s trek?: The trip itself – 3 days, 5 companies, and many amazing conversations. It was interesting to visit companies ranging from early startups to established big tech companies. One specific highlight was having the pleasure to tour a scale-up called Picnic and see their operations up close. They already have a solid reputation in Amsterdam and recently opened a new office in Paris.
Describe the importance of this trek to your club: Tech Club has always made an important impact on students in the MBA cohort and it’s always been our priority to deliver events and opportunities to our members. With the tech movement expanding so much in Amsterdam, it made sense to go there and explore the industry giants, innovative companies and immerse ourselves in a buzzing startup hub. Outside of the in-person and online events we have on campus with many companies, it was important for us to offer the opportunity of a career trek to our members so that they can continue to expand their network.
What lessons did you/the club learn from the experience of coordinating this trek?: That it takes a village! I certainly couldn’t have done it without my team and their continuous support. It was truly because of our synergy in working together, with everyone pulling through to the end, that made the trek an amazing experience. It also taught me that companies are always eager to work with students, whether it was for the trek or for other events. With the caliber of our MBA cohort, we bring a breadth of knowledge and experience to the table.
Why are treks in general an important part of your experience of the HEC Paris MBA? The trek offers students one-on-one conversations with impactful decision makers at companies and the chance to learn from their experiences. The most amazing aspect of the career treks is the networking opportunities afforded our members, giving them direct access to companies, and a chance to build and maintain relationships with corporate partners. As President, I have been able to connect with other students with similar interests and discover mentors in the industry who are excited to guide students.
Any other reflections you’d like to share? My advice is to keep reaching out to companies to collaborate because you never know what would come out of it until you try.
For more information about Student Clubs, check out the MBA website.