Omawumi Ogbe (left) with HEC Paris EMBA alumna Dominique Tchimbakala, EMBA '22.

From Chance to Choice: My Unplanned Path to HEC Paris, Europe’s Premier Executive MBA. 

Omawumi Ogbe, a member of the January 2023 intake, is a founder, leader, and speaker. The Nigerian native has gone from strength to strength, and in this guest post, she shares her experience—from application to admission and beyond— at the HEC Paris EMBA.

Late one night in August 2022, while aimlessly browsing the internet, I stumbled upon something that caught my eye: HEC Paris, Europe’s premier Executive MBA program. Intrigued, I delved deeper, discovering the program’s top ranking in the Financial Times and its reputation as a highly respected institution. Surprisingly, like an elephant hiding in plain sight, HEC Paris hadn’t been on my radar. However, it soon became apparent that it was an outstanding opportunity I couldn’t ignore.

When I saw HEC, I already had three admission acceptances with scholarships from reputable schools— one in the United Kingdom, another global EMBA across Europe, and the third in the United States. All I needed was to decide where I was going and start the process of becoming a student there. However, I saw that the courses offered in the EMBA program aligned more with my personal and professional growth goals as an entrepreneur.

HEC Paris EMBA student Omawumi Ogbe

Deciding on HEC Paris: An Unparalleled Admissions Experience

And so that night, I created my HEC account. Shortly after, I received an email and was invited to apply. What solidified my decision to go with HEC was the one-to-one meeting with HEC Paris EMBA recruitment manager, Claire De Gaudemaris. She was a breath of fresh air, pleasant and helpful. She immediately sent me a detailed email that answered all my questions, guided me through the process, and even gave me insights on the cohort that would be most suitable for me, considering that I would be coming from Nigeria and do not speak French. This was a significant difference in my application experience between HEC and the other schools. With HEC, it was clear that you are a priority; they want to support and help you make the best choice to boost your goals, which meant a lot to me.

In essence, my first learning experience started during the admission process, seeing the excellent customer service in practice from Claire and admissions officer Monika Savelskyte. When the other institutions would email me and request that I solidify my admission to become a student, I knew I couldn’t continue with them. So even though I was still working on my application process with HEC, I was sure this was the EMBA program I wanted and was willing to wait another year if it was too late to get in.

I quickly finished my applications, and thanks to Claire and Monika’s guidance, I chose the time that worked best for me on all fronts— January 2023 intake.

One thing I liked the most about the HEC admission process was that HEC alumni conducted the interview segments. Based on your application and desired goals, you get paired with people similar to you or where you want to go. I was fortunate to be interviewed at different times by two amazing women doing great work – Deputy Director at Centre Hospitalier de Plaisir, Nathalie Gounel and renowned news anchor at TV5Monde, Dominique Tchimbakala. Although they interviewed and assessed me, the process was fresh and innovative. They were so helpful, gave me life and career insights, and I was very grateful to have engaged them. After the first module in January, I met Dominique for coffee in Paris. Having just graduated in 2022 herself, she was incredibly kind, giving me more helpful tips to navigate the entire process. I look forward to connecting with Nathalie soon.

During our first module, while getting to know some of my classmates, I asked them why they chose HEC over other institutions, and there was one common theme – the support and excellent service displayed by the recruitment and admissions team. You are not just a number or tuition fee; they demonstrated that you were important and they cared about your growth and goals.

Having studied at HEC for six months so far, I can confirm this as the ethos. From Academic Director Patti Brown and Associate Director Malala Razafindrazaka to our always-smiling program managers Jaya and Sarah, the level of professionalism, kindness and support is awe-inspiring. Dealing with a large group of diverse people with different requests, they remain courteous and resourceful. As an entrepreneur, career professional or business leader, you see this and want to replicate that level of excellence with your team.

A Transformative Global Experience 

An essential aspect of my EMBA journey at HEC was the opportunity to focus on my business expansion aspirations. The Capstone team thoughtfully paired me with a supervisor residing in one of the regions I wished to explore, aligning perfectly with my goals. Now, my Capstone Project revolves around realizing my business’s expansion potential, providing a hands-on and practical learning experience.

Barely halfway through my studies at HEC, my personal and professional growth beyond academics has been astounding. My level of understanding and awareness has increased tremendously. From the crucial importance of sustainability to the business environment of today’s fast-paced world, there is more exposure and 360-degree growth. We’ve always known these things, but they have been brought to the fore more than ever.

Interacting with classmates from different continents and backgrounds reinforces the value of diversity and inclusivity. One learns to be more tolerant, become a global citizen and communicate effectively in ways others can easily understand, fostering a more open-minded perspective.

The HEC Alumni Annual General Meeting (AGM) provided a captivating glimpse into the robust network of HEC graduates, leaving me inspired by the impact of the school’s esteemed alumni.

Perhaps a memory that will stay with me forever was meeting a lovely lady who graduated from HEC in 1970 when the school was still segregated with men and women studying at different institutions. Imagine the delight of meeting someone who had that experience! She was very excited to meet me and thrilled that I was from Nigeria, showing her interest in hearing about my story as I was about hers. And that shows you the spirit of HEC: the opportunity to meet people, grow your network, learn new things and lean into the power of the iconic institution.

From the rich classroom experience to the practical case studies, eye-opening team exercises, scrumptious cohort dinners, complimentary tickets to conferences like Viva Tech and very fun class hangouts, including travelling with some of my classmates to enjoying a free one-to-one executive coaching session with one of the coaches at HEC and much more, HEC stands out. Little wonder it is recognised as the best Executive MBA in Europe.

A Journey of Gratitude and Growth

At this very moment, as I look back at my very serendipitous experience of getting into HEC, I am grateful for that late night when I was surfing the internet. I am thankful that I listened to my gut and made this choice. HEC Paris has undoubtedly shaped my path in immeasurable ways. The unwavering support, exceptional network, and dedication to excellence gave me a transformative EMBA experience. With every step forward, I am excited to embrace the challenges ahead and continue growing as a leader and global citizen. HEC Paris has unlocked a world of possibilities, and I am eager to seize them with open arms.

As I continue my journey, I know there are more stretch periods on the horizon, but I look forward to growing through them and navigating these exciting times. As the next decade unfolds, I aim to move intentionally. I am determined to support and inspire others, particularly those from the African region, to embrace the transformative potential of this outstanding EMBA program. As HEC’s commitment to excellence and inclusivity has empowered me, I strive to share this vision with aspiring career leaders and entrepreneurs, fostering a community of global change-makers.

Omawumi Ogbe is the managing partner at GLG Communications, a leading PR and reputation management firm. She holds a postgraduate degree in Media and Communication from Pan-Atlantic University, where she graduated as the overall best-graduating student. A TEDx speaker and experienced trainer, Omawumi’s leadership skills have led her team to win several awards, including “Best Innovation in PR” at the 2022 LaPRIGA Awards, where she also received a nomination for the award’s highest honour, “PR Practitioner of the Year”. She is the first female president of the Life Coaches Association of Nigeria (LCAN) and has received awards such as the 2019 Coaching Icon Award, 2022 Leading Ladies Africa 100 Most Inspiring Women in Nigeria, and the 2022 class of 40 under 40 Most Influential People of African Descent by MIPAD. 

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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