Career Transformation in Finance via the HEC Paris Executive MBA

“The Executive MBA at HEC gave me the confidence to leave a well-paying job to start an entrepreneurial journey in a sector that I really love, which is instrumental to a just and sustainable development of the Continent." -David Ekabouma, EMBA ’22

In the dynamic world of business, continuous growth and transformation are essential for career advancement. For David Ekabouma, EMBA ’22, this journey was all about enhancing leadership skills and making a significant impact on Africa’s sustainable development.

He entered the program with a 20-plus year career in finance, including successful tenures in overseeing audit and advisory projects for major multinational corporations at Deloitte (in Paris and Houston) and PwC (in New York), before making the conscious choice to return to Africa.

“My aim was to leverage private sector solutions to address pressing development challenges on the continent,” he says.

HEC Paris EMBA alum David Ekabouna

Today, he’s Managing Director, Blended Finance for the GreenMax Capital Group, a role consisting in designing and rolling out blended finance solutions to provide energy access for all, while fostering net-zero development in Africa.

“The Executive MBA at HEC gave me the confidence to leave a well-paying job to start an entrepreneurial journey in a sector that I really love and which is instrumental to a just and sustainable development of the Continent.

‘The more you know, the more you dare’!!!”

In this article, we delve into David’s experience, exploring how the HEC Paris Executive MBA contributed to his career transformation, leadership development, and the expansion of his professional network.

Breaking through Career Barriers

Before embarking on his Executive MBA journey, David had already established a successful career in France, the USA, and Africa. However, he felt that he had hit a roadblock and wanted to explore new horizons.

His decision to pursue an Executive MBA was driven by the desire to break through this barrier and unlock his full potential.

“I had come to the realization that I was able to climb the corporate ladder thanks to solid functional know-how and technical skills but was kind of missing real leadership skills.”

After doing his due diligence, he zeroed in on an Executive MBA as a crucial means to fortify and attain strategic leadership abilities, which were fundamental for advancing in his career.

Why HEC Paris Stood Out

Among the various Executive MBA programs available, HEC Paris stood out for David for several reasons:

  1. Executive Leadership Development: At HEC Paris MBA Programs, executive leadership development is at the core of the curriculum. David’s professional aim of nurturing innovation and refining interpersonal skills was crucial for motivating and sparking inspiration within teams and it fit well with this focus. “This resonates because it would enable me to cultivate both the visionary perspectives needed to make sound upper management decisions and the soft skills to motivate, empower and inspire teams.”
  2. Diverse and Experienced Classmates: Interacting with accomplished professionals from diverse backgrounds was essential for David. Keen on learning from the wealth of experience and talent among his fellow classmates, he noted that the maturity, seniority and different backgrounds of the participants were the key reasons why I picked the HEC Paris Executive MBA over other equally good programs, as I wanted to benefit from their perspectives and experiences in navigating complex issues.”
  3. Legacy of Leadership: HEC Paris has a long history of producing future leaders. Being a graduate from such a prestigious institution gave David the confidence to explore leadership positions in global organizations and even consider entrepreneurship.

The Program Rationale: Balancing Act

David chose the January intake for its weeklong format, which allowed him to dedicate concentrated time every 60-90 days while minimizing travel between Nairobi, his home base, and Paris.

The program’s structure played a crucial role in immediate application of lessons at work.

The Leadership modules— which bookend the EMBA 5-module curriculum— provided him with valuable insights into his personality and leadership tendencies.

“The program not only transformed my approach to leadership at work but also with my family, friends and people I interact with on a daily basis.”

He notes that as soon as he returned to work after his first EMBA module, the program’s positive impact on his leadership style, highlighted the speed of the program’s real-world applicability.

“After the first module my reports and peers noticed an immediate positive change in my behavior and leadership approach.”

Transforming Leadership Skills

When asked how the program contributed to his leadership skills, David’s response was unequivocal: immensely.

“The program not only transformed my approach to leadership at work but also with my family, friends and people I interact with on a daily basis.”

The HEC Paris Executive MBA had a holistic impact on his personal and professional life, making him a more effective and inspiring leader.

Customizing the Experience

When it comes to making the most out of the HEC Paris EMBA’s built-in flexibility, personalization is key. Beyond the adaptability of schedules and the array of specialization options, HEC Paris presents a spectrum of supplementary avenues for tailoring one’s EMBA experience.

David’s goals were clear;  he wanted to dedicate the next decade to addressing energy access challenges in Africa.

To align with these aspirations, he chose the Energy Specialization within the program.

”The faculty and the program exceeded my expectations,” he says.

“I also picked electives that I felt complemented my academic background and professional experience.”

The immersive nature of the program—including visits to renowned institutions through the Energy specialization and interactions with exceptional speakers— left a lasting impression on David.

Academic Rigor with the Flexibility to Pursue Goals

The flexible schedule of the HEC Paris Executive MBA program allowed David to balance his career, family life, and studies as effectively as possible.

It provided him with the opportunity to pursue his executive management training objectives without sacrificing his existing commitments.

David’s passage through the HEC Paris Executive MBA program is a prime example of the potential of leadership cultivation, network expansion, and career metamorphosis.

David’s narrative underscores the profound impact an Executive MBA program. His time at HEC Paris proved a catalyst for career achievement and the establishment of a more extensive and influential professional network within the business sphere.

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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