That was quite an experience. I have just lived one of the best two weeks of my life, especially in terms of education. I always knew HEC was exceptional, but I actually experienced and learned more than what I expected.
On the first day, we were given an induction, a broad overview of the program and the extracurricular schedule and I had the chance to blog about My First Day at HEC. I am now back to share my entire two-weeks experience at HEC. And I can tell you: it was unlike no other.
First of all: the people. The students at HEC come from all over the world, each with a unique outstanding background and experience. Being part of such a network – is an honor and a gift of a lifetime. I now have friends in Lisbon, Mumbai, San Francisco and new friends in Milan, Madrid and Moscow, and many more cities.
Team 6: Students from Buenos Aires, Madrid, Shenzen, London, Lisbon.
Secondly, the program. At the Luxury Management Summer School program, our program director Gachoucha Kretz gifted us with insightful content and real-business cases. A considerable part of the program was lectured by guest speakers from leading luxury companies (including the French ones): a unique opportunity to learn the behind-the-scenes of the luxury world. There was a lot of interaction, and considering that most of us have had some industry experience, the questions raised were thrilling, challenging and captivating. I remember how interactive the “Digital Transformation in Luxury” lecture was and how it extended to our dining tables.
From private to public companies, we had the uncanny chance of learning about each and every type of luxury company and in all the sectors, including the perfume, makeup, fashion, accessories and jewelry categories. Moreover, on the first day, we were given a business case to be solved over the course of the two weeks. The case required us to develop and “sell” a brand extension strategy for a niche luxury perfume company – Annick Goutal, in the short and long-term. We were encouraged to compete with one another, as only a few groups got the chance to present. This experience was key in underpinning the industry’s specifics and how difficult it is to “sell” your idea to a demanding top management.
I believe this business case truly enhanced our learning experience. In fact, having the coursework from the start of the program made us relate every theory learned in class to the case, and develop our solution accordingly. I remember working on our visual merchandising strategy right after the “Luxury Product and Retail Identity Management” class, as well as a revaluating the Kapferer brand identity prism we have developed, after a lecture focusing on one of the facets we hadn’t completely grasped earlier on.
This approach reminded me of my whole academic year. In fact, my friend and now business partner Carolina Neri, have been developing an idea since October, and it has been very effective for us to apply theories learned in class onto our project. We also found that we acquired knowledge faster. At HEC, having to solve the case over the two weeks was a real asset.
Just as a sneak pick of the program content per say: our first week was filled with both theoretical and practical lectures, whilst the second was a marathon of guest lectures. We had guests from groups of companies, notably those whose CEO graduated from HEC; but also guests from large independent fashion houses and niche luxury companies. An important part of the journey lied in identifying the specifics of business practices applicable to each type of company, but also the equal importance of the brand DNA notion in all of them.
As of extracurriculars: At HEC, Wednesdays are sports days. This means the afternoon is free. As a gym aficionado, I enjoyed my afternoon at the very well-equipped sports center and attended the yoga class. There was a range of sports classes offered on campus but I chose to give some time for my mind, so yoga was the ultimate choice. It seemed that I attended a whole positive psychology workshop. The teacher was an experienced and knowledgeable yoga coach who happened to be hosting a massive workshop in central Paris the next day – unfortunately, I couldn’t make it but this one yoga class was a real treat and taught me so much of the deep spiritual world of yoga. Speaking of which, HEC made me also learn more about hypnosis and emotional intelligence. In fact, there was a “Developing Emotional Intelligence” talk given by an HEC alumnus, Jonathan Sarsdas: it was a great opportunity to get advice on how to manage emotions in the fast-paced business world.
Students playing Beach Volley on a Wednesday afternoon.
Interestingly enough, my friend from Beijing had the chance to learn some French – by end of the program, they were double as fluent in French as when they were when they first arrived. They took evening classes offered at the Language Resource Centre and, from their words, it also benefitted to their understanding of the French culture itself. As a fluent French speaker, I made them practice a bit more on our social gatherings at the legendary Zinc bar. Languages always get better at social gatherings.
But there is so much more happening at the HEC Campus! At Induction, we were given all the necessary information concerning accommodation, food, nursery, and printing. I thought to myself “How unlikely it is that I will ever use the nursery at HEC” and as just for spite, I got a minor injury on the second night and thankfully the medical service was there to help me.
As I said earlier, the program gathers a diverse variety of students ranging from graduate to post-graduate students. During the stay, we had access to the HEC personnel, who was always ready to answer our questions in regards to potential MSc or MBA applications to HEC Paris. Moreover, a complimentary session was given to students willing to learn further details.
Finally, to conclude, I would like to highlight the most thrilling element of my HEC Experience. I would like to quote my professor’s last words before our champagne tasting session given by Wai-Ming Lung, which are: “you are now part of the HEC alumni”. HEC has constantly been ranked as the number one European business schools and being now part of HEC is an unparalleled honor.