Guest Post: Weaving an International Network at the HEC Paris Executive MBA

The HEC Paris EMBA affords participants a unique opportunity to build broader international professional networks. Maysoon Barber, a member of the EMBA Class of 2023 and a seasoned Executive Director in international non-profits, reflects on the perspective-opening experience she has had at HEC Paris.

Building Broader Networks at HEC Paris

I joined the HEC Paris Executive MBA program to retool, to challenge my life learnings, and to explore alternate perspectives in the business environment. It goes without saying that I have gained valuable insights into Strategy, Finance, Operations, and Digital Transformation, among many other disciples.

I have also heavily benefitted from and enjoyed an aspect of the program not available in any textbook, and interestingly, not curated in a similar fashion as work experience: fostering a deeper understanding of international cultures. Exposure to international cultures, a collective chain of diverse mindsets woven into a lacework of meaningful global and personal perspectives, are a key piece of added value I received.

To me, the international experience at the HEC Paris Executive MBA is not merely about understanding people’s backgrounds or geographic locations and norms. It is also about gaining the ability to connect dots from different markets and stories, in different parts of the world, in a totally unique way, to enrich each other’s lives and abilities to impact organizations.

“It is also about gaining the ability to connect dots from different markets and stories, in different parts of the world, in a totally unique way, to enrich each other’s lives and abilities to impact organizations.”

My own network expanded quickly.

Here’s a brief summary of my experience, with 4 out of the program’s 5 modules down: 3 International Mobility courses within the core curriculum that I could complete at excellent HEC Paris partner schools across the globe, Specialization courses completed in Cape Town and Bangalore, and a Specialization week spent at Station F, the world-recognized startup campus in the heart of Paris.

Building International Networks at the HEC Paris EMBA

Specialization weeks are strategically planned in locations that respond to thriving new business trends and opportunities. In the meantime, mobility courses feature real-life case studies, engaging us with examples from local markets and leveraging a global perspective.

And HEC Paris is a hub for entrepreneurs: 220 startups, including 70 tech startups and 100 social and environmental projects, have been launched by its alumni. In my time here, I’ve been happy to notice the gender diversity at the university, where 40% of the co-founders supported by Incubateur HEC Paris, the school’s dedicated startup incubator, are women.

To me, there is an unspoken common understanding among all HEC participants: that openness is a trait needed in today’s world more than ever.

“We build on each other’s knowledge and contribute to each other’s perspectives.”

I met people from all walks of life, from diverse backgrounds and cultures.

I’ve found that there is a hidden— but meaningful— bond between ‘HECers’ when you communicate with someone around the globe. For example, when asking for insights for a research project you’re working on: that we understand each other, and have each other’s backs.

We build on each other’s knowledge and contribute to each other’s perspectives.

International perspectives

HEC Paris is fertile ground for building international friendships.

And the EMBA is a-once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: if you want, you can disconnect from everything, immerse yourself in the impactful HEC Paris arena, and realize new dimensions leading to a new you. Even early on in the program, you notice a strange lingering nostalgic feeling, based on the fear and the anticipation of knowing that we are getting closer to the finish line.

There’s a reason why we read about many marathon runners helping one another at the finish line, rather than competing for an opportunity of crossing first. The secret lies in enjoying the run collectively, rather than simply focusing on crossing the finish line.

I know an Executive MBA degree from HEC Paris will unlock great possibilities for me.

And yet, I feel the benefit of the journey— lifetime friendships with international peers, new sparks of knowledge, and access to inspiring academics and industry leaders— holds much more weight for me.”

– Maysoon Barber is the Executive Director for an NGO based in the United Arab Emirates. She is Syrian/Russian by origin and has extensive experience in education and social impact, as well as culture, art, and academia. She has led social initiatives in the region related to access to education, women’s empowerment, and social entrepreneurship. 

More CEOs of Fortune Global 500 companies have graduated from HEC Paris than any other university in Europe. Nearly 4,000 graduates are currently CEOs, CFOs, or have founded their own companies. The Executive MBA at HEC Paris perennially ranks among the best in the world; click here to learn more.

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