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#15 HEC MBA Admissions Q&A with Mr. Philippe Oster

Philippe Oster

“I truly think our school offers the broadest career opportunities in Europe. We have privileged access to the greatest concentration of MNCs in Europe.”

This week I spoke to Mr. Philippe Oster, Communication, Development, and Admissions Director, HEC Paris, who has over 8 years of experience representing top business schools in France. HEC – located in Paris – was ranked 21st in the world by the Financial Times in 2013.

Philippe discusses 3 principles you should look for when applying to MBA programs: the quality of the student body, learning environment and career support. HEC delivers on all 3 with a diverse and elite student body, a newly designed curriculum relevant to recruiters (with the help of Bain & Company), and an integrated career curriculum that starts from day 1. HEC’s number one goal is to help its participants make a significant career enhancement post MBA.

HEC has academic alliances all over the world: students can get dual degrees with top schools in the US (MIT, Stern, Tufts) and Asia (NUS, CUHK, Tsinghua, Keio). Philippe also points out that HEC benefits from its proximity to Le Defense, which has the greatest concentration of MNCs in Europe, as well as 45,000 alumni spread over 200 countries. Graduates can stay in France for 6 months under a temporary visa to search for jobs.

The HEC MBA in 3 words: Transformation is On!

Listen on for much, much more!

Touch MBA’s HEC MBA Crib Sheet

Program Highlights (1:08)

  • 16 month program
  • 200 participants/class, 85% of students are international, 50+ nationalities
  • Ranked number 21 by Financial Times 2013
  • Accredited by EQUIS, AACSB, and AMBA
  • Program emphasizes leadership and transformation through its curriculum and extracurricular activities
  • 5 specializations: marketing, finance, strategy, entrepreneurship and LEGO (leadership in global organizations)
  • HEC has Double degree options with top schools in the US (MIT, Stern and Tufts) and Asia (CUHK, NUS, Keio, Tsinghua), and exchange options as well

Admissions (29:00)

  • 2 intakes in January and September
  • 12 deadlines for September intake and 10 deadlines for January intake
  • Applicants get a decision within 4-6 weeks
  • Candidates are encouraged to apply early to get on-campus housing; non Europeans are encouraged to apply earlier as well to secure visas
  • Admissions chances are the same in earlier or later rounds
  • Minimum GMAT is 600
  • Avg age: 30, Avg GMAT: 690

Financing (37:55)

  • Tuition: 48,000 EUR = $61,800 USD
  • More than 50% of participants get scholarships
  • Average scholarship amounts are ~10,000 EUR
  • Scholarships are merit and need based
  • Participants can get student loans in France, but with a guarantor or guarantee

Career (41:58)

  • Participants get a temporary visa for 6 months to find a job after graduation
  • 20-25% of graduates stay in France after graduation, 20% go to North and South America, 20% to Asia, 6% to Middle East, 25-30% go elsewhere in Western Europe
  • Ranked 1st in Europe and 4th worldwide by number of alumni that are CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies
  • HEC is 10-20 km away from Le Defense, which has the greatest concentration of MNCs in Europe, including many luxury brands
  • HEC has 45,000 alumni in over 200 countries in the world
  • Over 70% of graduates change sector, over 70% change function
  • Find HEC’s latest placement report here

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Show Notes

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HEC Paris Full Transcript

Darren: I’m really excited to have our next guest on the show, Mr. Philippe Oster, who is Communication, Development and Admissions Director at HEC Paris and he’s been there for over four years. Philippe is a great person to talk to, because before he came to HEC, he was head of international admissions for five top business schools in France and he did that for over four years as well. So he is the guy to talk to about MBA admissions and business schools in France. Welcome to the show, Philippe!

Philippe Oster: Thank you, Darren, and hello, everyone!

HEC MBA Program Highlights

Darren: You have so much experience with business schools, Philippe, so let’s get right into it. What makes the HEC MBA unique?

Philippe Oster: First of all, I’d like to develop a little bit more on what makes an MBA a top MBA, if you don’t mind.

Darren: Yes, please.

Philippe Oster: To me, the choice of completing an MBA, the choice of doing an MBA is an important one, because it entails a large personal investment, in addition to the financial one, of course, which should always result, and this is the objective of any MBA applicant, in a significant career change, significant career enhancement.

There are different ways of identifying top MBAs, good MBAs. Of course, there are all those international accreditations, like the AACSB, the AMBA, the EQUIS and so on, to identify top business schools providing top MBAs, but also, as you know, international rankings, such as The Economist or The Financial Times one.

But more than the rankings and the accreditations, I think that a top league MBA is primarily characterized by three principles that everyone considering an MBA should remember. First of all, the first feature of a top generalist MBA concerns the MBA community and the student body. Any top generalist MBA, like ours, is highly selective and diverse. We gather on campus a diverse international elite, so we are very selective.

At the HEC MBA we recruit something like 200 participants, 200 students per class and with a strong diversity. That is to say we have a broad array of academic and professional backgrounds, so we are evolving in a truly international environment. For instance, 85% of our student body is international, we gather something like 50 plus nationalities on campus.

I was reading yesterday an article that was written by one of our participants in The Economist and I think what Brian was saying in this article is completely true. His main quote was, “Much of the value of an MBA is in your classmates,” and I truly think that’s straight to the point and I fully agree with this.

So as one of the best business schools in Europe, HEC excels at attracting culturally diversified pools of candidates and this I think positively impacts students’ learning experience.

The second feature of a top generalist MBA is regarding the content and the delivery. By this I mean the quality of the faculty and the quality of the learning environment. Top MBAs have top class faculty, excellent teaching and excellent research records of the faculty, but without forgetting the practical relevance of the teaching. That is to say the teaching has to answer the needs and the expectations of the companies that will recruit our graduates.

In this, I think HEC has a lot to say. We launched in September 2012 a brand new curriculum that has been built together with Bain & Company, the large consulting company, that did a pro-bono study for us that helped us refine the curriculum and make it fit and match the recruiters’ needs. So, on this side, we completely satisfy with the new curriculum, that we launched in September 2012. And we thought it was clever to ask one of the main MBA graduates recruiters to help us in that respect.

We also, in September 2012, because I was speaking just before about infrastructure, built a completely brand new infrastructure, completely devoted to the MBA. So now right at the entrance of the HEC Paris campus you can see this brand new building which is mainly utilized by the MBA. New, state of the art facilities.

The third feature of a top generalist MBA is of course the professional careers reports. We do have here at HEC a Career Management Center that provides reports and guidance to all MBA students. That means that we have what we call a CMC Curriculum, a Career Management Center Curriculum, that goes together, that is integrated in the academic curriculum and we have different steps.

So, to put it short, the first phase of this Careers Report Curriculum is know about yourself, that is to say there is a wide series of actions that are taken right after the start of any intake for our participants or students to know more about themselves. Then the second step is to know more about the market you’re targeting. So know yourself, know the market. And the last phase of this CMC Curriculum is about how can you match yourself and the market you’re targeting.

So personalized career report is very important for any top MBA, together with the access to a high profile alumni network. For instance, at the HEC level, we have an alumni network of more than 45,000 alumni in a bit less than 200 countries in the world. So the power and the structure of this alumni association is quite powerful and of course some of our alumni are worldwide known, like Jean-Paul Agon, the CEO of L’Oréal, or just like the President of the French Republic, François Hollande, who is an HEC alumni.

So that makes us a top generalist MBA. And I do believe that if you take the top 20, top 25 MBAs in the world, of which we’re a part of, the offer among these top MBAs is significantly different, so people have a good choice of offers and any of these top 20, top 25 schools, of which we’re a part of, have something specific for them.

For us, and I will make the link with our network of academic and corporate partners, because we are at the crossroads of different networks, and these networks are very specific to us, no other schools have these. First of all, we have a network of academic partners. We engaged in strong academic alliances with top institutions in the world, like in Asia, for instance, the NUS, CUHK, HKUST, in the US, NYU, MIT, Yale, Wharton and so on and so forth. This allows also for some of our students who wouldn’t have a global, international exposure, during the curriculum to do some periods abroad through exchange partnerships.

So that’s a first characteristic that we have, the strategy of HEC Paris has never been to build campuses outside of the Parisian homebase, but rather to develop various strong partnerships with top institutions, whatever the continent.

I’d say also that we have a wide network of corporate partners, and this is pretty useful when it comes to place our graduates. Basically, I do truly think that our school offers the broadest career opportunities in Europe. First of all, because we have a privileged access to the greatest concentration of multinational companies headquarters in Europe. 10 to 20 kilometers from us, from the campus, there is this business area called La Défense, which is the greatest concentration of multinationals headquarters in Europe, way before London and Munich in Germany.

And you have all those great multinationals, like L’Oréal, Lafarge, LVMH, all those luxury brands, you have Total, the competitor of Shell, BDS, so all those multinationals are concentrated here. And this is very important to us, because we are able through our participants and through our actions here at the HEC MBA to make the bridge between these MNCs’ global strategy and their local operations. Because these companies are looking for talent, for high potential, that we have, to develop their global strategy locally in the different countries that they are targeting, in terms of development.

We have also close connections with those companies, let’s be honest, because most of the CEOs of these multinationals are alumni of HEC Paris. So HEC Paris is the alma mater of CEOs in Europe and this has been recently confirmed by some rankings, because we’ve been identified as being the first in Europe and the fourth worldwide by the number of alumni that are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.

So here we go, this is something that we have, that is very specific to us and that other schools don’t have. Another differentiating point to me, when speaking about the program itself, about the curriculum itself, is the emphasis that we put on leadership and transformation. We strongly encourage our participants, and you notice that I call them participants, not students, to personally engage in their studies and to develop their entrepreneurial mindsets.

We do think that we have the ideal class size for this. Class size is of about 200 for a class. That allows two things. First thing is the intimate dialogue with the business leaders I was mentioning before and that are not that far from us, 10 kilometers from us. That is to say the CEOs of these multinationals that come to campus to exchange at a very personal level with our participants.

We have an initiative that we started about 10 years ago and that is unique in Europe, called TEC, The Executive Committee, and this is just a great experience, just to give you an example. We select 12 participants per intake to be part of this TEC operation, The Executive Committee, otherwise known as Vistage internationally. So this is a concept where you have 12 participants engaging in very personal conversations with a or several CEOs. These people come to campus and accept to share their experience on a very confidential level with these 12 participants. And they do not only speak, it’s kind of a super-coaching experience.

So you have people who manage something like several hundred thousands of employees in the world that come and share their concerns, their issues. They speak about their work and personal time management, how they combine their family constrains with their professional life. So it’s very personal at the end of the day and any of our students participants who went for this TEC, Executive Committee, offer, have come transformed and have learnt a lot from this very personal relationship that they have.

The other point that we do to develop personal engagement and entrepreneurial mindset is for very practical, very hands-on, learn to lead approach operations. Like last week, actually, we organized the tenth sustainable business conference here in Paris. It’s an event that is completely organized by HEC participants, it’s an event that is very international, of course around sustainability and development of companies. And the idea of it is to have our participants managing it.

So basically there are teams of participants who take care of the whole organization. It goes from finding the right sponsor to taking care of the whole logistics, because this event gathers something like 500 to 600 international specialists around those thematic. So they take care of everything, basically.

Another example is in a month’s time now we’re organizing the MBA Tournament, the MBAT, and the MBAT I’d say is the Olympics of business schools in Europe. We have several thousand people on campus, it’s a very good atmosphere. HEC Paris takes care of the infrastructure, of course, and the rest is managed completely, 100%, by our participants.

Darren: I’m sure the students get really into the competitions as well. What really struck me about your answer, Philippe, is just exposing our audience to the size, scale and scope of the HEC network. When you throw out 45,000 alumni from over 200 countries, that’s really large.

Philippe Oster: All of these 45,000 alumni are living and active.

Darren: Right, right. And bringing them into a program that has 200 participants each year is really an interesting combination. And thank you also for highlighting the three criteria to think about when applicants are considering top MBA programs. But if I may ask, I saw on your website that you have a September and a January intake, so I’m sure some people out there might wonder is there a difference between these two intakes?

Philippe Oster: To put it short, the answer is no. There is no difference. All of our participants follow the same curriculum given by the same faculty and that leads to the same offer in terms of courses, electives, specializations, possibility for exchanges, especially during the year, what we call the customized phase. So the answer is no, there is no difference.

Darren: Okay, and for that customized phase, I also noticed that applicants have a choice of picking between specialization or exchange and then either doing a field work project or electives. Can you just explain that quickly, what’s the difference?

Philippe Oster: Yes, sure. It’s very important to explain this, because it is also a way to explain to our audience how HEC Paris MBA differentiates from the other MBAs. During this customized phase it’s the right time for our participants to give a color to the MBA and to specialize, if they want, in one specific field. It’s also a good way to combine your MBA towards your professional, final objective.

So basically during the customized phase you have access to a wide combination of courses, internships, field work projects, career activities, international exchanges, double degrees and so on and so forth.

You were mentioning the specializations, there are five of them: Marketing, Finance, Strategy, Entrepreneurship and together with the new curriculum that we launched in September 2012 we created a brand new specialization which is called the LEGO specialization, like the toy, but in short it means the Leadership in Global Organization.

Doing the study with Bain & Company around the curriculum, of course Bain & Company surveyed top recruiters and those multinationals I was mentioning previously told us that they were looking for people with very specific skills in terms of leadership. And these skills had nothing to do with strategy, marketing or finance, these skills were transversal skills. One of the most intelligent words that I learned from one of my colleague professors is he said “versatility is very important.” And to me this word, versatility, embodies what we’re trying to do here at the HEC MBA.

You mentioned internships and field work projects. This is key, because internships that can be integrated within the curriculum are a very good way of testing a different sector in a different geography. And this is how we manage to put participants who are not of a definite sector and expose them to other sectors of activity, other job sectors, and to make them connect with the companies that may recruit them afterwards. To put it shortly, it’s a good way to test a job sector with a safety net.

Darren: You mentioned already a number of reasons why MBA candidates might want to consider Paris and France to get their MBA in, but can you talk a little bit more about what the visa situation is? If someone is accepted into the program and graduates, how long can they stay in France for to look for jobs?

Philippe Oster: First of all, I’d say that we do place our participants, our graduates, everywhere in the world. A good 20% of them, just after graduation, I’m speaking here about the class of 2012, are placed in the Americas, another very good third in Western Europe, then Asia a third of them, Middle East. So we place people all around the world.

Depending on the classes, the placement in France represents something like 20 to 30%. But the fact of being geographically located in France gives us, as I was saying, access to those European multinational headquarters, and to make the bridge between our participants and those multinational companies that want to apply their global strategy to local operations. So this is key.

But if the intention of our non-European participants is to stay in France, to me France has the most flexible regulations in terms of work visas, it’s as simple as that. From the time you graduate until the time you have to find a job, you get a temporary visa for a duration of six months just after graduation.

And if you consider that a participant that would have started the program in September finishes his or her courses in December the year after and that graduation is in May – June, that means that this participant, after he finishes his or her courses, has something like a year to find a job in France. So this is very flexible and very attractive for non-Europeans.

Darren: And is it really important for candidates to be able to speak French to find these opportunities? I know that your graduates are going all over the world, but if they would like to stay in France, is the language very important for them?

Philippe Oster: A good third of our participants speak French when they arrive on campus with different levels. Another good third wants to learn French and do learn French during the curriculum. Because the French courses are compulsory here, especially during the fundamental phase, the first phase of the program, it’s compulsory. So these people do not speak French or do not speak French well, but they want to learn. And another good third, between you and me, they just don’t care about French language, but that doesn’t prevent them from taking job opportunities. We’re trying to, but they don’t care.

Of course, it’s valid for any country, if you intend to do an internship in France and if it’s your objective, it’s great. It’s also in your everyday life, being in France, being immersed in the French culture, and this is why during those eight first months we provide French courses and it’s compulsory to any of our participants, provided of course that they’re not French or do not come from a francophone country, but it’s compulsory.

During the customized phase, even better, we have on offer a good range of really good electives, with professors like Jean-Noël Kapferer for marketing, worldwide known, but this guy will give his course in French only. Not because he doesn’t speak English, on the contrary, but because it’s an incentive for our students to take this elective and to take it in French, it’s also a challenge for them.

Overall, we would find it a little bit bizarre, a little bit awkward for our participants to spend 16 months on campus and not being able after this period to have a proper conversation in French. It would be a little bit awkward.

Darren: That’s very clear.

HEC MBA Admissions

Darren: If we can shift our attention now to the admissions questions that I have. I noticed that HEC has 12 deadlines for the September intake and 10 deadlines for the January 2014 intake. And you encourage applicants on your site to submit their applications early to get on campus, housing and for visa considerations. But when you say early, do you mean the first two rounds, four rounds, five rounds? What does “early” mean?

Philippe Oster: You see, I put a lot of pressure on my admissions team. No, there’s a good reason for this. We want the process to be as serious as possible, but also as fast as possible. It shouldn’t take more than a month, a month and a half between the time an applicant finalizes his or her application to the time he or she gets a decision. And on top of this, a decision regarding scholarships. So the process, you’re right, is very fast, very effective, and we encourage our candidates to apply as early as possible, especially non-Europeans.

And you were right to mention the visa reason is very important. Regarding housing, this is another point, we are privileged, because we are able to accommodate on campus something like 120 – 130 MBA participants in a dedicated student residence. Some of our participants do not want to stay on campus, they prefer to stay in Paris or in Versailles, which is very close to the campus. As there is limited space on campus regarding accommodation, it’s not limited, but it’s preferable for people who would want to live on campus to apply as early as possible, because we have decided to adopt a very stupid rule, but very effective rule, first confirmed, first served. This is why we say early.

I guess your question also reading between the lines relates to the fact that some participant might think they have better chances to get admitted if they apply early rather than if they apply late, which isn’t the case, for two reasons. We have now, with the new building infrastructures that I mentioned previously, large capacity, but we will focus only on quality.

Which means, my aim and my team’s skill is to recruit something like 200 participants. If one year it’s 190 and the other year it’s 213 or 217, it’s not a big issue, we only take the best. And if it happens that a very good applicant comes very late, for different reasons, personal reasons, professional reasons and so on and so forth, this candidate has the same chance of getting admitted as someone of the same quality that would come in the very early rounds of admission.

Darren: Got it. And for your GMAT I noticed that you have a minimum score of 600 and your average score for your class is around 690. So for those candidates who fall towards that minimum, whether it’s 590, 610, 620, what can they do to improve their chances if they have a lower GMAT score?

Philippe Oster: 590, that wouldn’t work for us.

Darren: Got it.

Philippe Oster: We had to decide on a minimum GMAT score, it might seem unfair, but at some point, decisions have to be made, so it’s 600. So for someone having 590, we would recommend them not to apply. Overall, as Director of Admissions, I’m not too much of a GMAT focused person, meaning that every week in preselection juries we refuse people with GMAT of over 700; just because they have a very good GMAT, and congratulations to them, but the other criteria that are evaluated in the applications are not to our standards.

And every week we also do preselect people with GMATs lower than the average, with GMATs of 610, 620, just because we think that the GMAT is a tool to evaluate the intellectual agility of our participants, it’s an insurance for us that the candidates with very good GMATs will be able to follow high demanding courses.

Darren: What three things can applicants do to improve their chances of admission?

Philippe Oster: What they can do is first of all to refine their choice in terms of MBA applications. The MBA is a transformative experience, so it’s really important to select the right school. The right school of course with regards to the candidate’s personality, ambitions and career objectives. So this is why in order to do a good application, I would highly recommend candidates to interact with schools as early as possible.

I highly recommend also candidates to get in touch and to engage in discussions with the current students, the current participants of HEC MBA, the faculty when possible but also to get in touch with the alumni or representatives as much as possible. And then they will refine their choices of potential schools and then they will be able in the essays and during the interviews to tell us why there is a real match between them and us and then it will be our job to see if this match goes the other way around.

Darren: And I noticed that HEC has a very interesting preliminary evaluation, where you encourage potential candidates to fill out a form and to get in touch with your office early. So would you suggest that candidates talk to alumni and students before they fill out this form or to fill out that form first?

Philippe Oster: I would advise to fill out that form first. You get advice from one of our team members, it shouldn’t take longer than two weeks for this advice to be provided, because candidates don’t have time to spend uselessly, we neither, so this is a good first way of seeing if there’s a potential match or not. Or maybe it’s not the right time now, maybe in one year, two years time, but yes, it’s a first step towards the application decision.

Darren: Okay, I think that’s a great opportunity for candidates out there to get their profiles assessed.

HEC MBA Financing

Darren: So if we can now shift our focus to financing the MBA, Philippe, can you let us know what percentage of your class gets scholarships and what the average scholarship amounts are?

Philippe Oster: For the last class, the class 2013, more than a half of participants got scholarships. The average scholarship amount is around €10,000.

Darren: So almost 20% of the tuition cost.

Philippe Oster: Yes, you’re right, that’s 20 – 25% of the total. Basically, there are two types of scholarships. You have merit-based scholarships and need-based scholarships and applicants have to choose to which scholarships they want to apply. And these are scholarships given by HEC, thanks to the HEC Foundation and thanks to big donors, business people that give back to the school. And that allows us to be able to give those merit and need-based scholarships.

Then we have a range of scholarships sponsored by companies, like L’Oréal, like Alcatel and others and more dedicated scholarships to certain kinds of populations. For instance, the Rainbow Bridge Foundation that gives two very good scholarships every year for people coming from countries stricken by poverty, famine or natural disasters. And of course we have the Forté Scholarship for Women. This is the only time we do positive discrimination.

Darren: I will definitely link to your extensive scholarship page. It doesn’t matter if an applicant is targeting the September or January deadline when it comes to scholarships, right? They have the same chance.

Philippe Oster: Yes, no influence. No difference.

Darren: And would you recommend any loan options for international students?

Philippe Oster: Are we thinking about Asian-based students or?

Darren: In general. I guess I could ask a better question, which is can international students, say a student from Asia, get a student loan in France?

Philippe Oster: From a French bank?

Darren: Yes, from a French bank.

Philippe Oster: The answer is yes, but with some conditions and depending on the banks. Some banks will ask for a guarantor based in Europe or in France, some others will ask for a guarantee, that is to say to have a blocked account with some money in it outside of France, but it largely depends.

If your question was the US citizens, for instance, it would have been different, because we have agreements of course with the US State Department of Education on certain types of loans. Otherwise, yes, financing your MBA through loans means different realities depending on your personal situation. So maybe it’s a little difficult to develop here, Darren.

Darren: Yes, okay, that’s a good point, Philippe. I will again link to the different loan options that you have available on your site, so that our audience can check that out.

HEC MBA Careers

Darren: Alright, Philippe, if we can now talk about career options for HEC students. What is HEC MBA’s reputation with employers in France and abroad?

Philippe Oster: The reputation is pretty good. A good way to exemplify it is to give you the names of our top recruiters: Bain, AT Kearney, McKinsey, PSG, L’Oréal, Amazon, Schneider, they all recruit our participants and they all come on campus. We do also go with our participants to their home base, because we do organize career treks in different geographies and also targeting different sectors of activity.

One of our strengths is the variety of our placement. Our placement does not concentrate on one sector, whether it be consulting or finance, it’s very diversified. And we also leverage on the different subsectors, leveraging on our acquaintances, on our partnerships, on our network, with all the subsectors of the industry: luxury, energy, aerial space and so on and so forth.

Darren: And how many full-time students stay in France to work and of course how many work abroad?

Philippe Oster: For the class of 2012, the one that most recently graduated, it was something like 20 – 25% that stayed in France to work and the rest went all over the world.

Darren: How do most of your students find these jobs?

Philippe Oster: As I was explaining earlier, we have a very interesting career report curriculum that is integrated within the academic curriculum. The fact also that we have integrated within the curriculum terms that students spend doing what we call field work projects, either internships or consulting projects, does help working on those four criteria whenever you speak about career progression: change of function, change of job sector, change of geography and change of language of work.

And this really helps the participants during the curriculum. It’s not like a summer internship that you do once you finish the curriculum; that is still possible for our students to do so. Here internships and field work projects are really integrated within the curriculum, that is to say our student participants benefit from the support of our Career Management Center and from the support of the faculty also while doing the internships.

Darren: I love the idea of an integrated career curriculum with the academic curriculum. I think that’s a really fantastic way to teach participants while they’re studying, because I feel oftentimes the career services aspect of MBA programs is left to after hours or after you finish class. But I like that it’s all integrated.

Philippe Oster: Mind you here, on campus, every single Friday and sometimes Saturday, but every single Friday, is devoted to career report. And from the beginning career report doesn’t occur at the very end of the program, it’s from the very beginning. It’s great, and this is also why we have very good placement records in terms of job transformation after the HEC MBA. More than 70% of our graduates change job sector, more than 70% of them change job function, but that’s no wonder, and more than 50% of them change job location.

Darren: That really speaks to your career services, but also the network that HEC has. What is the best way for candidates to contact students and alumni of HEC?

Philippe Oster: A good way to do it is to go first to our admissions officers and developers, the people who you will be meeting on the different forums and fairs that are organized worldwide. Another good way, whatever the country you’re in, there is an alumni association, just contact them, they will tell you about the school, even if they didn’t specifically graduated from the MBA, but they graduated from another program on offer here at HEC, they will tell you a lot about the school, about its network, about everything.

If possible, come to campus, because a school’s culture is very difficult to define, very difficult to verbalize, to put words on it, you have to feel it. So, when possible, people should consider coming to Europe, coming to campus and seeing real people being engaged in real activities.

And then of course at HEC we do have open days, campus visits. Today there is a campus visit for instance and we do organize these at least every other week, so there are plenty of possibilities for those being able to come to France to visit the campus.

Darren: We’ve covered a lot over the course of this podcast, but is there anything else about the HEC MBA that you wish just more candidates knew about?

Philippe Oster: HEC MBA in three words: “Transformation is on.” Because we want to really focus on this. It’s not only professional transformation, it’s personal transformation. And we can’t be happier when the student participants, by the end of their curriculum with us, come to see us and say, “I think I’ve transformed, but on a personal level,” and we can’t be happier. So three words: “Transformation is on.”

Darren: I think that is a perfect note to end on, so thank you very much for your time, Philippe!

Philippe Oster: Thank you very much, Darren!

Darren: Take care!

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