At HEC Paris, mvlti svnt vocati, pavci vero electi!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Voila! J'ai gradué! And, best wishes to you!

Bonjour everybody!

I have graduated! I am now officially an MBA!

The HEC experience has been wonderful and, not only have I learnt a lot, I have also met some great people who will stay friends forever. This has been one gem of an experience with its own little twists and turns, and many memorable moments. It all started in the summer of 2006 in the back garden of our house in Middle England where, with my son on my lap, I prepared for my GMAT exam. Between mid-July and early-October that year, I had made the decision to pursue an MBA, chosen HEC as my school of choice, applied to the program taking the GMAT one day before the deadline, and then visited HEC for the first time for two rounds of interviews two days before the school's admission jury met!

Early in October, I received the admission offer and, immediately after that, I handed in my notice at work. A week after handing in my notice, I was at a reception at Buckingham Palace which led to the most unexpected turn of events - I ended up being sponsored for my MBA by a leading IOC. One of the reasons I joined HEC was to try and get on the double degree program with the Stern School of Business, to give one last shot at training in a US university having previously lost the opportunity to attend Yale in the post-9/11 complications. So, I was on the train to London to attend a presentation by NYU staff when my wife called to say she had been offered a really interesting position by an American pharma company based in Ile-de-France! Thus, we moved to Paris together as a family and put our English 'castle' up for sale, and even planning on moving to the US for a second degree no longer made sense.

I started the MBA program at HEC Paris in January 2007 and it has been brilliant. I could not have asked for a better school from the way things have turned out. The community spirit of the school, with intense and world-class academic rigour, and the bonds between the students enforced through 'forced' teams, club activities and the MBAT cannot be described in mere words; you have got to experience it! Having said that, I restricted myself from getting too involved in a lot of activities as I wanted to be at home with my family as well. Most club events took place in the evenings about the same time when I would have been putting my son to bed after dinner and I felt that he had priority!

Studying wasn't the only thing I did during the course of the program; my wife and I invested in an apartment in France, renovating which took up most of our spare hours, and in two further properties in a developing market. And, thanks to my sponsoring company, I also had the opportunity to travel and stay in some fantastic places; the Mirador Kempinski overlooking Lake Geneva in Switzerland, the Taj in Mumbai, and visits to Alaska, San Francisco and Chicago. Sometimes, the projects I worked on were extremely demanding and I questioned the rational of staying away from family over long periods of time but I believe it has all been worthwhile.

To add to the drama of this saga, my sponsoring company could not offer me the right placement and ended up releasing me, albeit with no obligations, and, thus, I went from being the first student to find a hiring company to potentially the last student standing unemployed after the MBA! This was not only depressing and disappointing but extremely embarrassing. And, it is during such times that one generally reassesses the situation and I did exactly that. To make up for the time that I spent living in a different country, roughly 40% of the MBA duration, I decided to stay at home for a few months and slowly explore the job market. Besides that, our daughter was born soon after I completed my IPP so it made good sense and timing. But then, who are we to know the future and what's around the corner. God always has a plan, and I have faith in that. Interestingly, I now have an opportunity to work for a global giant, an American diversified company, in a beautiful Mediterranean setting. Pending a few minor issues that need ironing out, my wife and I are seriously considering this option. The hassle of relocating to a new home for the seventh time in eight years will be worth the experience we will gain by living in a totally new country, hopefully by the sea and in the sun! :-)

Finally, this is my last post on this blog. It was always meant to reflect and highlight my personal journey through the HEC Paris MBA program and I think I have satisfied that condition. If you found my blog looking for information on HEC Paris, I hope you have found the site useful. If you are thinking of joining HEC, what are you waiting for?! All I can say as a parting thought is that the journey of life is never for one to accurately plan and map out but we can define the direction in which it should go. Things happen, expectedly and unexpectedly, for good or for worse, with or without reason, and one can never be too sure of what surprises lay around the corner. It is for us to take each and every development in our strides, move forward, and enjoy doing so. All things eventually come to a fair conclusion. Farewell, my readers, and I wish you the very best!

Below are some pictures from the HEC Paris journey:

Update (September 2008):

In the week I went to visit the Mediterranean setting where I was to be based as an expat following a short stint in London, I got an offer from a leading Anglo-Swiss company to get on their career development program for MBAs starting with an assignment in Switzerland. This provided an interesting career path as well as better career opportunities for my wife, who is in the pharma sector, so, after much deliberation, I decided to accept this new offer. Of all the offers I got, this one was the best when looked at holistically.

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