The diversity of the HEC Paris MBA was one of the main draws for me to the program, and with that comes sharing my own culture and traditions with my classmates.
American Week kicked off with a talk about managing expectations in challenging times, given by David Gallagher, my former CEO at Ketchum London and current president of international growth at Omnicom PR Group. As an American living and working in Europe for the past 15+ years, he’s witnessed changes here in Europe and in the US that will alter the face of business. His lessons? Giving his personal perspective, he reminded us that as leaders, we must listen fearlessly and engage with empathy, anticipate scenarios and co-write the story. He closed by encouraging us to live by the Wonder Woman code of conduct to be brave, be generous, and do good – we even did the Wonder Woman pose as a group!
Next, we shared homemade American treats – cupcakes and cookies! – with our classmates, and in the evening, we explored the wonderful world of American whisky. An expert from La Maison du Whisky, Paris’ whisky boutique, gave a masterclass, leading our tasting group through whiskies from some of the best distilleries in the US, including Blanton’s, Michter’s, Whistle Pig, Sonoma County Distilling Co., and more.
Of course, what’s American Week without Thanksgiving? Like our friends and family on the other side of the Atlantic, we celebrated my favorite holiday with lots of food – starting with a trip to Costco, which happens to be a 15-minute drive from campus. Volunteers cooked all day, mashing potatoes, sautéing green beans and baking three types of pies. One of my innovative American classmates even fried a turkey over a bonfire down by the lake – it’s just not Thanksgiving without turkey! Nearly 100 of our friends across all the HEC Paris MBA batches gave thanks and celebrated with us, making the holiday feel more like it does at home.
Friday night we held a movie night in the auditorium, showing The Wizard of Oz and The Shining. Saturday closed out American Week with a visit to the Irving Penn exhibit at the Grand Palais in Paris, and brunch with all the American fixings!
I had so much fun sharing my culture and Thanksgiving traditions with my classmates. After celebrating French Week, Indian Week, and American Week in the first three months of the MBA program, I can’t wait to see what the next cultural weeks have in store for us!
Text by Margaret Hoffecker
Before joining the HEC Paris MBA in September 2017, Margaret Hoffecker was a research director at Ketchum Global Research and Analytics in London. She has 10 years of experience in strategic communications, helping a range of clients in New York and London to use research and data to develop their brand strategies. She is also an avid runner, having completed five marathons.