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Real Humans of the HEC Paris MBA Class of 2023

hec paris mba class

hec paris mba classZich Zhou, HEC Paris MBA Class of 2023

Age: 28
Hometown: Beijing, China
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Cornell University, Computer Science
Pre-MBA Work Experience: 5 years

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
I realized I wanted to take a break from work, especially after a year of working from home, I felt burned out. In addition, I’d like to change my career path from a technical role to other endeavors. An MBA program where I can get to know new people from around the world and enrich myself with new expertise is an obvious choice for career changers.

Why did you choose HEC? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Geography was a big factor in my decision. After spending a decade in the US, I wanted to venture out to a different continent for my MBA study. The HEC program’s length (16 months) with the option of doing a specialization is a good fit for me.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2023?
Having spent an extensive amount of time in China and the US and traveling to over 30 countries, I believe my broad-minded approach to distinct views is a valuable contribution to the conversations. That being said, most of the students in our class have a multicultural background. It is not rare to find students here who have lived in 5 countries, or speak 4 languages, etc.

Tell us a fun fact that didn’t get included on your application:
I enjoy hiking and walking. I once walked around the island of Manhattan and covered 37 miles in one day.

Post-MBA career interests:
I’d like to explore entrepreneurship. I came to HEC with a startup idea. Hopefully soon enough the product will formally launch, and the startup will be in full swing. Of course, there will be Plan B and Plan C if the idea falls through, but at the moment, I’d like to put entrepreneurship as my post-MBA interest.

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
– What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Spend a lot of time to reflect on yourself. The application questions could really make you introspect and have a holistic evaluation of your personal growth. The self analysis is definitely an enlightening experience.

– What is one thing you would change or do differently?
Do school research early. Try to connect with alumni and learn about the uniqueness of their school, instead of going to the school website and providing cookie cutter answers to “why our school” questions.

– What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
I don’t think I would have skipped any part in the application process. I think my time was in general well spent.

What is your initial impression of the HEC students/culture/community?
The community is extremely diverse and eclectic. With more than 90% of the class being international students, there isn’t a predominant demographic group in the class. That means a high level of cultural exchange, and everyone can have their voice heard. In the last two weeks, for example, students gathered informally to celebrate Grito de Dolores (Mexico’s Independence Day) and the Mid-autumn Festival.

What is one thing you have learned about HEC that has surprised you?
History of the school. Didn’t know HEC was such a prestigious brand in France.

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?
If anything, I had more time to work on the application thanks to the time saved from commuting. The interview format changed as they became Zoom sessions. In my opinion, the change made the interview process more casual and personal. One interviewer, for example, showed me her dog on Zoom.

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
FOMO. There are just too many events and activities going on on campus and in Paris.

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
Participating in MBAT. MBAT is an annual sports event and the largest gathering of MBA students in Europe. The 2021 event was moved online due to the pandemic, which makes the 2022 event even more anticipated. I’m looking to doing my part to contribute to its success and making friends with students from other B-schools in Europe.

Posted in: Real Humans of MBA Class of 2023, Real Humans of MBA Students

Schools: HEC Paris

About the Author

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Lauren Wakal

Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.

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