Mattéo OUENNICHE is a high school student from Annecy, France, who took part in the Youth Leadership Initiative last year. He’s a driven, enthusiastic and ambitious young man who is bound make an impact in the business world. In this blog post, he shares his motivation for taking part in the Youth Leadership Initiative as well as what he has gained from the experience.
“Last summer, I spent a week discovering one of the most prestigious business schools in the world: HEC Paris. I was selected to be part of the Youth Leadership Initiative, a program exclusively open to high school students who are eager to develop their leadership skills.
After coming across this program on the HEC Paris website, I decided to apply for it. I had to write three short essays in order to demonstrate my English language abilities. A few days before the results were published, I had a brief phone interview with the Youth Leadership Initiative admissions team. One week later, the results came in: I had won a place!
On 22 July 2018, it was time for me to pack my bags before heading to campus. When I arrived, the teaching staff gave the 40 participants a warm welcome.
The program was built around different workshops, spread across the week during which talented speakers introduced us to different aspects of leadership, teamwork, public speaking and networking. I have never had the opportunity to attend such workshops before and it was a real pleasure to discover a different learning approach. I would like to thank the teaching staff as well as the other Youth Leadership Initiative participants.
One of my favorite aspects of this program was getting to meet talented high-school students from all around the world, some of whom have become close friends. The sense of cohesion between students coming from 19 different countries was truly astonishing. I believe the main strength of the program was the fact that it offered so many opportunities for fruitful and enriching exchanges between students, in the classroom as well as over the lunch table. Constructive criticism, stimulating debates and cross-cultural collaboration were the order of the day.
My friends’ initial reaction to my interest in the Youth Leadership Initiative program was: “Do you really want to spend a week in class during summer?” Except it wasn’t just “a week in class”; rather, it was a rewarding learning experience and a journey in self-discovery. The knowledge gained during my week at HEC allowed me to consider ideas and viewpoints which I had previously ignored. “The more you know, the more you dare”: the HEC motto encapsulates the spirit of the Youth Leadership Initiative and encourages us to go forth in the world and drive change. ”
At the end of the week, Mattéo was asked to deliver the program’s closing address:
” Some of you are here to improve your leadership potential. Some of you are here to have fun. But I think we all came here, on the HEC Paris campus, to try something new. Having fun and working hard were just part of a wider experience in which we learnt how to become leaders in our society. I think everybody in this room became a leader at some point this week, through teamwork, collaboration, cultural exchange and boundary pushing.
I hope we will continue to collaborate by thinking together, working together, and sharing values and experiences. I would like to thank all of you for making this week so wonderful: you are such positive, forward-thinking, kind and talented people. I would also like to thank you for helping me improve my English – one of the main reasons why I applied to this program in the first place.
A massive thank you to Ms Michaels-Berger and Ms Honan for their generosity and for creating such an enjoyable learning environment for us. Last but not least, I would like to thank all the leader guides for showing us around campus and escorting us to the right rooms whenever we’d get lost.
To wrap up, I would like to reiterate the value of taking the plunge. Throughout the week, I’ve learnt that no matter how much knowledge or experience you may have, the most important thing is to put yourself out there. Go forth and become the leaders of tomorrow. Thank you for listening. “