After an intense first day, when we had to travel from Paris to London and attend two events, it was time for our first day with three company visits. We knew it would be demanding but also rewarding, as it would give us the chance to have contact with many different industries throughout one single day and still have the chance to stroll around London in the meantime.
The second day started especially early for the 70 students who attended the Salesforce event. However, they had the opportunity to not only have fascinating and mind-shifting insights about the Salesforce’s Customer Relationship Management software, but also to sight see London from the Heron Tower – the third highest building in London. The informal setting and tone of the extremely motivated group of employees steering the visit put all the students at ease. This approach made it a lot easier for the students to participate actively in the exercise provided by Salesforce to better understand what service the company provides to its customers.
For the 30 students who visited Alphasights, the day started with a warm reception. One simply could not anticipate the marvellous welcome breakfast provided by Alphasights in their cafeteria. Although many had already had breakfast in the hotel, everyone had room for (at least!) one of the exquisite snacks offered to us by the company. Employees were getting their breakfast or coffee in the same area as the Strategic Management students, which encouraged interactions even before the first presentation. The history of this 10-year-old fast-growing company thrilled the students. The firm has almost doubled its number of offices in the last 3 years and is the global leader in Knowledge Search. Alphasights recently got recognised on this year’s Financial Times Future 100 UK list. The students were highly impressed when they were shown analysis proving that the clients for which Alphasights works spend a big portion of their time trying to find knowledge and that Alphasights could significantly reduce that time. Some HEC alumni then “jumped on stage” and talked about their experience in the company so far. The company visit ended after one very interesting self-branding exercise supervised by some more senior employees.
During the afternoon, students split into three groups. The two groups visiting Ardian and Kraft Heinz headed to their respective company visits after a quick lunch. Meanwhile, the group who was visiting Octopus Ventures had time to grab lunch by the Thames and walk for a while in the streets of the city centre. The sky was as clear as it can get, and the sun made students forget about their tiredness, giving them a boost of energy to explore London in between the visits.
Another company, another industry. In Octopus Ventures, students were given a presentation regarding the company and its latest successful investments. As many were unfamiliar with the exact details of how a Private Equity firm operates, it was extremely insightful to hear about it from one of the firm’s partners. We came to know that, like in our master’s program, there is a huge diversity of background within the firm’s team. The visit finished with a Q&A session, giving the students the opportunity to get more in-depth insights not only about the company but also about the industry in which it operates.
At around 6 pm the sun was slowly going down and 100 students were exchanging ideas regarding the companies they visited throughout that day, in Google’s headquarters lobby. It was not long until everyone got to the 6th floor and was amazed with the setup of the room. A big and bright panel would show motion videos of different cities while five Google employees (three HEC alumni) from different teams were presenting themselves. It quickly turned into a debate, with many students asking bright questions regarding the most varied subjects. There was still some time for networking over snacks and drinks provided by Google.