It was 6:30 am, Sep 26, 2018. The sound of suitcases rolling on the ground broke the tranquillity of dawn – Voilà! The London Study Trip was on!
It was the start of a 5-day journey. During these days, the 100 students of HEC Strategic Management, Class of 2019, travelled to London to visit companies across various industries, feeling the vitality of the city, and enjoying their time together. The group was composed of 46 MSc. Strategic Management students, 50 Grande École MiM – Strategic Management Major students, and 4 MSc. Data Science for Business (Strategic Management Track) students. The Academic Director, the Executive Director and Program Manager were also present.
Now after a fulfilling trip, we can’t wait to share our experience with you. So, we collected our memories into this journal and hope that it will provide you with some valuable information and you enjoy reading it!
After arriving in London at around 1pm on Wednesday, students were divided into 4 groups and headed towards Morgan Stanley, PwC’s Frontier Data Lab, Circle and Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield respectively. All the company tours would be worth highlighting but we can unfortunately only cover a slice of our experiences here.
Let’s start with Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, the largest commercial real estate company in Europe.
Speaking of “company tour”, what kind of images appear in your mind? Presentations? Sure! Desserts and drinks for tea breaks? Absolutely! Offices with desk and PCs? NO! Shopping mall with restaurant and movie theatres instead – Yes, the “office” of Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, is a Shopping mall, or you can call it even a “shopping city” if you want.
There, students got a deep insight of the future of retail industry. We discussed several interesting questions, such as: How can traditional offline stores transform and thrive, given that they face challenges from disruptive digital advancements? The answer that Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield gave was to explore new functions of shopping malls and focus on quality. To further explain this, you can imagine shopping malls as “logistic centers”, or “galleries” of flagships, a place where you not only shop but also eat and entertain yourself. That is to say, you are not only there for shopping, but for showing and enjoying your lifestyle.
In a word, all the students I interviewed after the Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield commented “I didn’t expect commercial real estate could be so interesting before. The experience was way much cooler than what I had expected!”
As for other company tours, there was a detailed lecture on blockchain technology at Circle, a finance case study at Morgan Stanley, and a Virtual Reality tour at PwC.
“The visit at PwC was great. Consultants shared their own experience and their views towards the consulting industry. I was impressed by PwC’s network with its global offices. At the end of the visit, PwC data lab even showed us their visions on technology in 2035 with VR devices. Although I found this prediction quite unrealistic, the idea of technological disruption was well conveyed.”
Bo-Yuan Huang, MSc. DSB (Strategic Management Track) student
The evening, we spent at the Caledonian Club. This prestigious location in Western London cannot simply be booked by everyone; instead, it is reserved to people who have a special relationship to Scotland, and our stay there was only made possible by the initiative of one of our Scottish Alumni! At the club, we were first given a presentation on Vodafone’s new marketing campaign. Afterwards, a good dozen of our veterans, the Strategic Management alumni, who are now working in London joined us for food and drinks. This was not only a great opportunity for us to network in a very personal setting, ask questions about career paths and exchange campus experiences but also for the alumni to catch up with each other and reminisce in memories. This evening, we all experienced how the HEC spirit can live up even long after graduation (the oldest alumni present had graduated back in the 1990s) and connect people across generations. Finally, the evening was concluded with some great news – our MSc. Strategic Management ranked worldwide as the #1 program in the QS Rankings for Masters in Management 2019!