And that’s a wrap!
It was around 3 a.m. on July 1st that the 2018 edition of the MBA Alumni Reunion wound down. With a strong sense of accomplishment mixed with fatigue, we, the four-student organizing team, headed home from the reunion after-party.
It had been an intense 4 months of preparation leading up to the event. The celebration began with an aperitif on Friday evening at the HEC Alumni House in Paris, followed by an activity-packed day on campus and a gala dinner at the HEC Chateau, capped off with a retro after-party. The arguable icing on the cake: we watched France win the FIFA World Cup match against Argentina!
Over the course of the weekend, we hosted more than 250 people celebrating their milestone reunions from 5 years to 40 years. These alumni traveled across the world – from as far away as the United States and Japan – to take part in the celebration. The range of countries that they represented was rivaled only by the diversity of their profiles: professionals from varied industries, including founders and CEOs of multimillion-dollar companies.
While the MBA Alumni Reunion was a great opportunity for alumni to reconnect with their friends and showcase their alma mater to their families, a few chose to relive their student days by “roughing it” in the student dorms with our “on-campus student experience.” All-in-all, it was quite a reunion!
But, as with many events, there’s always a story behind the scenes.
The Hitherto Untold Story
With HEC’s alumni network being one of the school’s greatest assets, it was imperative to ensure the network stayed engaged, despite their highly divergent career paths across the globe. That sparked the genesis of the first MBA-specific milestone reunion in 2017.
This year, the onus was on us to leverage the success of the first reunion to scale up the 2018 edition even further. Fortunately, MBA students typically do not lack ambition or resourcefulness.
To be sure, we faced no dearth of challenges, such as designing a reunion agenda that was engaging enough to convince multiple generations of alumni to come to France, managing costs that just kept increasing, and leading teams of student volunteers to organize activities ranging from sumo wrestling to cocktail-making.
It certainly was a tricky balancing act, especially when combined with the weight of our regular coursework. But, overcoming these elements was a key part of our learning experience.
Photo Highlights from the Reunion Weekend
What Lies Ahead?
The event’s success not only demonstrates how much alumni appreciate this opportunity to reconnect with the MBA community, but also what students can accomplish by leveraging the HEC ecosystem.
Personally, as a part of the core organizing team, this experience required that I collaborate with multiple departments of the school and of the HEC Alumni Association, giving me immense insight into how things work at HEC. I also interacted with alumni from different generations, getting the opportunity to engage with interesting people from different walks of life that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. That was one of the reasons I became part of the organizing committee: how could I pass up the chance to network with more than 250 HEC Paris MBA alumni during such a relaxed weekend?
I feel glad that we were able to make a difference. Having delivered a great time for everyone at the reunion, this year should serve as a launchpad for next year’s organizing team to build a bigger and better MBA reunion. But, it’s still going to be an interesting challenge for the students involved to consistently create a different and engaging reunion experience.
Well, that’s another story. For now, I’m just looking forward to experiencing my first milestone reunion in 2024. I wonder what it will look like?
Words from our Student Organizers
Note from Michael Stapleton, President, MBA Alumni Reunion 2018
“Joining the core team let me interact with alumni from around the world and as far back as the class of 1978. I never would have been exposed to such a broad range of graduates, and it was clearly an impactful experience for attendees. My favorite moment was seeing alumni visibly moved by coming back to campus and reuniting with both their peers and the school.”
Note from Pierre Guyot, VP Operations, MBA Alumni Reunion 2018
“Having embarked on a transformational MBA journey a year ago, I constantly look for diverse opportunities to grow and to create value for the HEC community. The Alumni Reunion project provided the perfect opportunity to do so. It challenged my limits and allowed me to apply the varied skills we learned in class. As it turns out, the experience of organizing a successful event despite short deadlines, cost pressure and challenging supplier relationships was one of the richest experiences of my MBA.
Note from Coralie Harmache, VP Activities, MBA Alumni Reunion 2018
“To be perfectly honest, I was intrigued by the opportunity to organize a party. I have not been able to recreate the extravaganza of my 24-year-old birthday party for a couple years now, so when the opportunity to plan an alumni reunion arose, I jumped. While my favorite moments were of course wrapped up in the day itself, what will stand out to me is the leadership I found my teammates displaying every day leading up to the event. Many logistic and bureaucratic impasses were met, and I was never more proud of my teammates resourcefulness.”
To see more photos from the MBA Milestone Reunion, visit our flickr album.
Text by Harsha Eashwer Singhraj, VP Communications, MBA Alumni Reunion 2018
Harsha Eashwer Singhraj (Class of 2019) graduated as an industrial engineer from India in 2008. He first worked in business consulting with Frost & Sullivan, advising multinational industrial companies across Middle East and South Asia. He later transitioned to a leadership role at Mu Sigma, a Big Data Analytics Consulting company. Over 3 years in this role, he led multiple teams to develop Advanced Analytics solutions for a Fortune 500 technology company and food & beverage company. In 2017, Harsha decided to pursue an HEC Paris MBA to gain an international learning experience and to build a strong network in Europe. Harsha is the Founder & President of HEC’s Consulting Practice.