It’s easy to think of “à point” as a common French expression used only for cooking meat. But interpreted by the nine incredible speakers at TEDxHECParis 2021, those two little words transformed into one big, thought-provoking event.
On the HEC Paris stage, the TEDx theme of à point was quickly redefined as a critical moment—the exact time when the status quo is ripe for disruption. “Our goal was to create something for everyone,” explained Karan Nimrani, MBA ’21, former President of the HEC Paris MBA’s Public Speaking Club. Karan and the 17 other students who organized the April 29th event curated a compelling and high-profile line-up of speakers.
Among them were Mahmoud Mohieldin, Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund, Terri Duhon, Non-Executive Director of Morgan Stanley, and Alexandra Palt, Executive Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer at L’Oreal.
We couldn’t help but be intrigued when the first presenter, Marion Vaquero, founder of Pépite Sexiste, discussed growing up as a twin. Even though her parents chose to dress her in blue to distinguish her from her identical twin sister, she quickly learned that toys—or literally anything blue from toothbrushes to T-shirts—were strictly reserved for boys. She called for the audience to reject gender stereotypes.
The message that we all have the power to create positive change was echoed by many of the TEDxHECParis speakers. HEC Professor Jeremy Ghez explained that because of the overwhelming influence of social media algorithms, people no longer hear or read opposing viewpoints. “It’s like driving without your glasses,” he said. “We are definitely not getting the entire picture.” His talk urged us to look beyond the obvious and immediate.
Another speaker was Nourdine Bihmane, CEO of Emerging Markets at Atos. He illustrated the potentially devastating effects of carbon dioxide on humans. “Getting rid of the excess carbon in the atmosphere isn’t about saving the planet,” he said. “It’s about saving the human race.” His presentation ended by asking us to participate in a collective bet. “Remember in 2002, Elon Musk created SpaceX with the dream of sending human beings to Mars? He’ll be able to do it by 2026. So why not, together, take the bet today to remove 1,000 gigatons of co2 from the atmosphere by 2050?”
Of course, no TEDx talk with the theme à point would be complete without a five-star chef. The student-led organizing committee brought us Francis Mallmann, called “the most interesting chef in the world” by Esquire magazine. He served up his unique views on how to live a passionate life.
Afterward, attendees were able to meet online in small groups with each of the speakers. Months of hard work curating the topics and preparing for the first-ever online TEDx at HEC Paris most certainly showed through.
A huge congratulations to the student-organizing team, including Karan Nimrani, Organizer; Fabrizio Contartse, Co-Organizer; Halima Levy, Curation Lead; Carolina Schmollgruber, Charlotte Lambert, Guillaume Cotenceau and Evy Beekers, Curation; Kritika Taneja and Katerina-Markella Liakou, Communications Leads; Francesca Limjuco, Communications; Shivani Tiware, Logistics Lead; Ali Malik, Helena Cabeza and Nathan Barnett, Logistics; Massimiliano Drezza, Digital Lead; Benedikt J. Raßhofer, Digital; Tanish Gupta, Finance Lead; and Tingting Wu, Finance.