Stephanie Semaan, President of HEC Business Game, shares her experience of heading one of the school’s leading student societies and organizing an unforgettable event.
In my first year at HEC Paris, I joined the HEC Business Game as a member of the Logistics team because I wanted to enhance my organizational skills and meet ambitious young people with whom I could share unforgettable moments while working together on a project. Because it proved to be such a personally enriching experience, I ran for presidency of the HEC Business Game in 2019 after returning from my gap year.
I was supported by an incredible team of 25 business gamers, spread across five different groups: IT, Logistics, Participants, Partnership, and Promotion. After months of preparation, we greeted 180 students from all over the world (58 countries and 38 universities) to the HEC Paris campus, where a set of challenges were held on 19 and 20 April 2019. Participants had been selected from amongst a larger pool of applicants, who had to complete an online challenge sponsored by AB InBev. At HEC, they took part in four challenges, which aimed to test their ability to solve real-life business cases and find innovative solutions under pressure.
The first challenge was set by Bain & Company, our premium partner for the third year running. Jean-Marc Le Roux, partner and director of the Paris office, took a case from the consulting firm’s Private Equity practice involving a rental service company in the construction industry. The data given to participants, who were asked to come up with clever solutions, was incomplete and incited communication between business game participants and the Bain employees present, who had the additional information required.
Mass media company Bertelsmann set the second challenge. Focusing on digital disruption, students had to create a business model for both online and offline communities and proposed ideas for social apps, B2B and employee-service solutions. Bertelsmann offered the winning team a chance to create their own startup in the company’s ‘Demain’ incubator in Paris with a 50,000-euro budget. After a hard day’s work, students spent a pleasant evening listening to live music by HEC students.
The next day, Luxottica, a world leader in premium, luxury and sports eyewear, set the Finance Challenge: participants found themselves having to fill in for an absent colleague and finish complex analyses to prepare a presentation for an important meeting. Students received more information via e-mail as the challenge progressed: they had to filter out those which were mere distractions and select those which were necessary to crack the case. Japanese personal care company Shiseido, whose members of the marketing team listened eagerly to closing pitches, set the final challenge: reinventing the advertising campaign for Dolce & Gabanna’s ‘Light Blue’ perfume.
A different team won each challenge and the overall winners, Karsten Jensen and Daniel Worner, were announced on Saturday afternoon. Following the closing ceremony, the organizing committee, participants and partners all gathered for a cocktail at the Chateau on HEC Paris campus.
By all accounts, the HEC Business Game 2019 was an exciting experience. Not only did we have an impressive group of motivated participants coming from all over the world to stretch their intellect, but also committed partners supporting us and providing our participants with thrilling and challenging cases. Companies got to meet participants in formal and informal contexts, allowing room for casual networking.
Finally, I would like to thank my team for all their hard work and dedication to this project, which wouldn’t have been possible without them.