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HEC Paris Alumni Remain Committed to Giving Back

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Martina Bharthi Priya, HEC Paris MBA 2019

HEC Paris Graduation Year and Concentration: Class of 2019
HEC Paris Clubs: Leadership team, responsible for Corporate affairs, Industry Club; Leadership team, Treasurer, Entrepreneurship Club; Vice President for Support functions (HR, IT & Finance), MBAT (MBA Sports tournament)
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 8 years, Automotive industry (Mercedes Benz AG)
3 years, Software development & services; 2 years, Founding member of startup
Current Employer & Title: Senior strategy consultant at Circle (a French strategy consulting firm with a new outlook to revolutionize strategy consulting by combining an entrepreneurial approach to strategy consulting)

How have you given back to the HEC community since graduation, in particular regarding recruitment and mentoring?
There are many avenues HEC presents for alumni to give back to the community through HEC alumni clubs, MBA Giving Month, career events, and more. For recruitment & mentoring, I found career events & personal support are more impactful.

Through career events & career center:

  • After my graduation, I joined a German consulting firm, P3 Group, in its French establishment. I helped forge the connection between the firm and the students for recruitment.
  • I coordinated with the P3 France managing partner & HR during MBA recruitment events. After that, P3 hired its business development manager through the HEC Talents career center to expand its presence in France.

Now I am working for Circle, an innovative French strategy consulting firm, establishing its brand & presence with top French corporates. I act as a go-between person for HEC Talents career center and Circle recruitment in initiating the connection. As part of this successful relationship, we have successfully engaged with current students through the MBA Career Fair, HEC Carrefours Career Fair, and the Consulting Forum. We are actively recruiting from HEC. I will be involved more in the future to help students with case cracking and providing career support.

In addition to my work through professional forums, I help MBA students offline with career advice and support on resume, and cover letter reviews. At times, I was able to help a few students secure interviews through my personal networks.

What do you think has been your greatest contribution to the HEC school community as an alumna?
As an international candidate, I understand the struggle students go through in finding the right job after graduation. Though all of us had very successful careers before our MBA, we took the chance to shake up that secure life to achieve something. Being in a new country, where language and cultural aspects are completely new, doesn’t make it easier. Also, we are looking for something different than before. This can be intimidating and scary for many. I also know how vulnerable and desperate this experience can make us. The importance of alumni is not small at this stage. Being there for these students, to advise on career and cultural aspects is my biggest contribution to the HEC school community. I am proud of my ability to continue this. It is also a way for me to give back to my firm by getting high-quality consultants, the “crème de la crème” of European MBA graduates. There were lots of alumni who supported me when I was going through this journey, and now it is my turn.

How did you engage HEC alumni when you were an MBA student or applicant? Do you have any related advice for current MBA students or applicants, e.g. etiquette, what to expect, etc.?
The network opportunities provided by schools like HEC cannot be overstated. When I was a student, I had multiple opportunities to be mentored and supported by alumni, for example, through HEC mentorship program, MBA clubs and career events. I was able to utilize all of them. One example I would like to state here:

Through the HEC mentorship program, I found my alumni mentor, Mr. Philippe Geffroy, who was then the managing director of Mazda France. Despite his busy schedule, we met face to face one hour every two weeks. He provided lots of valuable career advice and management tips in the French environment. We also discussed automotive industry trends that kept me up to date with the market. When I face a tough situation in my career or just want someone to talk to, he is always there, even now. I cannot thank him enough for all the time he has spent and continues investing in me. There were many other alumni, e.g. Ms. Paurnima Kulkarni, Ex-Head of Strategic CXO Program – Europe in TCS, Mrs. Myriam Le Cannellier, Co-founder and director of DSML executive search, and many more who helped me on my job applications, career choices and understanding French cultural aspects. These are a few among the many examples.

These are a few things I would like to advise the current students:

  • You can utilize the alumni network for many possibilities, not just for a job. A job can be a byproduct of your knowledge of the industry, showcasing your best self on a job application, improving communication, or understanding the cultural aspects. These areas will help you land the job. Focus on them too. Seek advice from alumni on this, and it will help you form a genuine exchange without pressuring them.
  • Though big multinational firms and well-known companies can be attractive at first, they may not be right for you. To understand the cultural aspects and fit in general, alumni can be a wonderful platform.
  • Don’t see networking with alumni as a job transaction. Just like any other genuine relationship you form, it can be a lifelong wonderful connection. It is okay to ask for advice and help. If they have time and possibility, they will. Sometimes they can be busy or going through difficult times and will not be able to offer any support. Accept it and find someone else.
  • Quality matters more than quantity – even if you connect with two or three alumni, be genuinely interested in what they have to say. Follow up and ensure that both are benefitting from the relationship.
  • When you don’t feel connected, be honest. Thank them for their time and find another alumnus who can be the right help for you. When someone is taking time out of their personal and professional life to support you, be respectful of them.

Anything else you’d like to add?
I cannot say this enough, “Don’t just look for shiny job or company. Fit matters a lot.” A small company which really values its employees can give you a better career path and opportunities than a big firm, where you are one among many.

I also want to emphasize to our current MBA students the value of the vast network they have through the HEC Paris MBA. You will never have this opportunity in your life again. Ensure to meet up with your alumni contacts for coffee chats or even a WhatsApp call. Some may be too busy to respond. But many do. It is important to recognize that alumni want to give back to HEC and the students.

To other alumni who do not know how to support, spending even half an hour a month to support one student will make a huge impact. So let’s do it and make as much an impact in this world with our small actions. It matters! It matters to a student who does not know where to go despite having great skills, knowledge, and competencies to showcase. It matters to the school, which has given us a lot. It matters to us, since the progress of the school implies our progress, too.

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.