Finding community, creativity and confidence in the Executive MBA

From new friendships to meaningful mentors, Félicia Sola shares why her HEC Paris classmates have made her Executive MBA experience so enriching.

“I found what I was looking for and more. It’s like stepping back from who I was and today I see the world completely differently.”

This is how Félicia Sola feels since joining the Financial Times’ #1 ranked Executive MBA (EMBA) program at HEC Paris.

Félicia Sola is one busy woman, juggling her job as Account Executive at a Paris-based communications and marketing consulting agency June TwentyFirst Capgemini and being a mother of two, on top of her HEC Paris Executive MBA studies.

With over 14 years working in the communications field, when Paris born-and-raised Félicia returned to her job after starting a family, she felt in need of a transformation.

“I was in my comfort zone. Having two kids, I had naturally put my work life on hold. When I came back, I needed something challenging because that’s when I feel my best. I wanted the tools to be more strategic ” – Félicia Sola, HEC Paris Executive MBA participant. 

It was during this time that Félicia first entertained the idea of an Executive MBA, with the desire to gain a broader understanding of her business to enter a new phase of next her career and life.

Felicia Sola with her HEC Paris Executive MBA peers.

Felicia Sola with her HEC Paris Executive MBA peers.


Félicia feels more confidant and business-minded since joining the Executive MBA program.

Having graduated with a Master’s of Advertising and Marketing, Félicia was hopeful the EMBA would equip her with the tools to understand global trends beyond a communications perspective. Félicia emphasized the importance of having a 360 view in order to create meaningful and long-term global brand awareness for her clients such as Orange Telecommunications.

For HEC Paris Executive MBA students, with an average age of 40, it’s likely been a while since their student days. But every single person has made a very considered decision to be there.

“We all want to improve and want to make the most of this experience.”

It’s because of this shared motivation amongst the candidates that Félicia describes the classroom as “totally inspiring.”

“It’s half educational enrichment, half human enrichment. We learn as much from our peers as from the courses,” said Ms. Sola.

“The way I see the class right now, is like the world came to me.” 

But what’s the reality of fitting an EMBA into an already demanding schedule? How do candidates make room for studies when they are already stretched between their high-level jobs and personal lives?

Félicia explained it helps to have her peers dealing with the same challenges as they encourage and motivate one another.

“We are on the same page. We have to manage our families, jobs, kids and being here. I couldn’t have a more packed schedule. But you are enjoying yourself because it’s so energizing. Imagine yourself running a marathon. You have one objective. It can be exhilarating, challenging; you might want to give up but then you look around, and you are surrounded by people just like you. This individual experience becomes a unique and unforgettable collective one.”

Felicia Sola during class at HEC Paris Executive MBA program.

Felicia Sola in class during the HEC Paris Executive MBA program.

This is a sentiment that is shared by many of the HEC Paris EMBA candidates, who said that connecting with the other candidates has been a rare opportunity in this stage of their lives to form genuine friendships in addition to valuable networking opportunities with people from all over the world.

“It is a mine of intellectual inspiration.”

Working alongside people from all over the world mirrors the business world and is a highly valued trait of the HEC Paris EMBA.

“The way I see the class right now, is like the world came to me. This individual experience has become a unique and unforgettable collective one,” she said. 

“Our class is so international and I’m learning about different cultures. People might not think like you, you have to adapt and that improves your leadership skills. They are my circle of compassionate consultants, willing to share and discuss alternate points of views, from across every sector and industry. It is a mine of intellectual inspiration,” said Ms. Sola of the classroom environment. 

Despite coming from different backgrounds, the candidates have formed a special bond, and the thought of their impending course completion in June 2020 struck a chord for a teary Félicia while she addressed her fellow candidates at the end of their latest module.

“I’m so grateful to everyone here. You’ve changed my life.”