Leadership, Empowerment, and Motherhood: One EMBA’s Steadfast Journey for Knowledge, Growth and Sustainable Leadership

The Executive MBA at HEC Paris has had a profound impact in the life of Hardeep Chana, an experienced finance strategist. Explore how the program's world-class faculty, diverse network, and adaptive structure, not only reshapes careers but also serves as a guiding light for dedicated professionals navigating the delicate balance of executive education and full-time parenthood. Discover the powerful impact of this executive learning experience, empowering individuals like Hardeep to contribute meaningfully to their future ambitions.

In the vibrant tapestry of HEC Paris Executive MBA experiences, Hardeep Chana’s powerful story stands out as a testament to the transformative power of education. Hardeep, EMBA ’24 is a seasoned finance professional, having obtained her chartered accountancy qualification at the age of 23. She also personifies the profound impact this program can have on one’s career and personal growth.

She embarked on the program while actively fulfilling the role of a full-time homemaker and mother of three young children, challenging the notion that pursuing professional goals necessitates stepping away from responsibilities of raising a young family.


Hardeep (far right) with her EMBA classmates from the January 2023 intake.

“Opting to temporarily pause my professional career and fully commit to raising my three children, marked a significant emotional and mental adjustment for me. I had comfortably embraced the warmth of motherhood until I challenged myself with an EMBA. The initial days in class remain vivid, where I often felt overwhelmed and teary. Being part of a dynamic cohort of 60 highly intelligent, motivated, and career-focused professionals occasionally led me to question my own place in the challenging yet rewarding environment. Throughout this journey, my anchor has been my family, with my husband playing a pivotal role.”

Though she may have questioned her place initially, through her unwavering commitment and dedication, she excelled, dispelling any notion that motherhood impedes progress towards professional goals; rather, it adds depth and resilience to the narrative. Along the way, she shrewdly tailored her program experience and embraced new learnings to pave the way toward her new goals.

This alignment became the key to unlocking unparalleled control and empowerment.

“The Executive MBA program is not just broadening my knowledge; it is actively shaping my perspective across various contemporary business domains. While my passion for sustainability aligns with many, the curriculum’s in-depth exploration of crucial subjects, such as adapting to evolving business landscapes, navigating the intricacies of geopolitics, addressing climate change and sustainable finance, and exploring the realms of energy and decarbonization, has significantly contributed to cultivating a more well-rounded and flexible outlook on these matters.”

Why an Executive MBA?

Hardeep’s decision to pursue an Executive MBA was not a spur-of-the-moment choice, but rather a culmination of years of professional experience and personal growth.

As a young accountant, she had to put her personal ambitions on the backburner in order to deal with a unique set of personal circumstances.

“Juggling two jobs to support my family’s needs in the wake of our migration from Kenya to the UK, I lacked the necessary financial support to complete my bachelors and Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA), let alone entertain the thought of pursuing a master’s degree. My aspiration was clear though. I sought a master’s program offering practical applications rather than a mere certification. Looking back, I’m genuinely grateful for the patient and deliberate path I chose, threading through diverse roles and experiences over the years.

Hardeep 2

These ventures allowed me to acquire both indispensable hard and soft skills, which in the context of an EMBA, truly amplify the depth of discussion and debates but also infuse a richness into the entire EMBA learning process.”

The HEC Paris Difference: A Learning Odyssey

Hardeep’s relates that her experience at HEC Paris is not just about acquiring knowledge. Rather, it’s a holistic learning odyssey that extends beyond the classroom.

As she navigates the rich curriculum, Hardeep attests to the transformative nature of the program.

“The Executive MBA program is delivered by a world-class faculty. The learning environment fosters collaborative learning through intensive class discussions, group projects, and teamwork, fostering a safe place to share and learn.”

Beyond the classroom, the program offers access to a diverse and interdisciplinary network of professionals, providing a valuable resource for making inquiries, exchanging insights, and tapping into collective wisdom. She says the Executive MBA is not just an academic pursuit, but a transformative experience that equips her to contribute meaningfully to initiatives aligned with her passion for renewable energy and sustainability.

“The influence of the EMBA network is truly remarkable. Our WhatsApp chat group serves as a dynamic hub, seamlessly connecting diverse networks. Whenever I need assistance, I confidently reach out to my fellow peers, understanding that within our collective network, there’s always someone who can provide valuable support. As a network we look after each other and being a part of this collaborative community is immensely gratifying.”

Striking the Right Balance: Tailoring the EMBA Experience

The inherent flexibility of the EMBA program has enabled the Milan-based professional to harmonize career, family commitments and academic endeavors.

“Living in Milan, my choice of the specific track within the program was driven by the need to strike a delicate balance between my career, family life, and academic pursuits. Opting for one of two modular intakes, which convenes every two months, has proven to be a strategic decision. This structure entails five trips in the year to the Jouy-en-Josas campus, each lasting an average of 8-10 days to complete the core modules. This arrangement, in comparison to the bi-weekly track, allows me to spend less time away from my family.”

The flexibility of the program aligns seamlessly with her evolving life circumstances and commitment to minimizing her carbon footprint.

This strategic choice not only accommodates her busy life but also allows Hardeep to immediately apply the lessons learned in the program to challenges at work. To wit, after the program’s third module, she secured a role in a startup in the renewable energy sector, despite never having worked in the sector.

“Although I’m relatively new to this industry, I’ve successfully confronted some workplace challenges by cultivating a self-discipline that encourages me to apply and experiment with new learnings in real-life scenarios with clients and colleagues.

While this doesn’t position me as an expert in my current field, it enables me to bridge the gap between theory and practice, testing what works for me and what doesn’t. This ongoing process is not only refining my authenticity but also shaping my leadership style, providing me with tangible tools and experiences to draw upon.”

Leadership Evolution: Shaping Future Success

“An executive course of this kind is by its very nature focused on creating well-rounded leaders,” she explains. Though Hardeep acknowledges the program’s contribution to the development of her leadership skills, she nevertheless stresses the importance of hard work throughout the program.

“Living in Milan, my choice of the specific track within the program was driven by the need to strike a delicate balance between my career, family life, and academic pursuits.”

“I do not believe after 18 months of this course that one suddenly becomes a great leader. It’s an ongoing exercise which requires a lot of trial and error. I am able to draw on the program which has been instrumental in broadening my horizons by exposing me to a multitude of new concepts and skills. It has significantly expanded my self-awareness and understanding of the crucial skills necessary to thrive as an operator and leader in today’s volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) world.”

“The exposure to these critical elements provides an abundance of ingredients, opening the door to limitless possibilities for experimentation and the creation of one’s distinctive recipe for success” she adds.

Flexibility for Success: a Harmonious Balance

The flexible schedule of the HEC Paris EMBA program empowered Hardeep to align her executive management training objectives with her professional and personal commitments.

Strategic deferral of certain courses to concentrate on a pivotal consulting project and the program’s responsiveness in allowing changes to specialization showcase the commitment to individualized learning.

“Being part of a dynamic cohort of 60 highly intelligent, motivated, and career-focused professionals occasionally led me to question my own place in the challenging yet rewarding environment. Throughout this journey, my anchor has been my family, with my husband playing a pivotal role.”

Customizing my experience provided unparalleled access to a myriad of invaluable resources, notably a distinguished faculty and a global network of professionals.

This not only enhanced the depth of my learning but also enriched my overall perspective, fostering an environment where I do not feel restricted, or constrained to ask for help and support. With this I feel safe, equipped and part of a large family where everyone looks after each other.”

The EMBA-Enabled Journey Ahead

As Hardeep looks ahead, the anticipation of delving into The Future of Energy Specialization and embarking on her Capstone project “fills her with both excitement and determination.”

These forthcoming milestones, coupled with the invaluable insights gained from the foundational modules, serve as the anchor for her seamless transition into the dynamic realms of Renewable Energy and Sustainability.

“The HEC Paris Executive MBA is not merely a stepping stone; it’s a powerful launchpad towards my envisioned destination. It’s not the allure of a prestigious title or job that propels me forward, but rather the profound impact I aspire to make. My passion lies in guiding individuals and organizations towards the intersection of business and sustainability, where meaningful change unfolds.”

Hardeep’s unique blend of technical knowledge, operational skills and strategic acumen positions her as a catalyst for change in today’s ever-evolving landscape. She underscores the significance of being a versatile thinker, recognizing that adaptability is paramount for navigating the complexities of the contemporary world.

Her dedication extends beyond the professional realm; it is fueled by a profound commitment to leaving a lasting legacy: a world enriched for her children and the generations that follow.

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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