The following essay topic analysis examines the HEC Paris MBA admissions essays for the 2021-2022 admissions season. You can also review essay topic analyses for other leading MBA programs as well as general Essay Tips to further aid you in developing your admissions essays.
HEC Paris Essay Topic Analysis 2021 – 2022
Let’s take a closer look at each prompt.
Why are you applying to the HEC MBA Program now? What is the professional objective that will guide your career choice after your MBA, and how will the HEC MBA contribute to the achievement of this objective? (500 words)
This is a fairly straightforward career goals essay, asking applicants to comment on why business school makes sense for them at this point in their careers, to articulate their post-MBA career objectives, and to outline how an MBA from HEC Paris would enable professional success.
To tailor this essay to HEC, we recommend answering each question in the order in which it’s posed, if you can make that work with the flow of the response. You might touch on your work experience to date and hint at the future direction you wish to take (i.e. name the industry or functional shift you hope to accomplish), and explain why you need an MBA to advance along that path. To fully address this first question, applicants should also explain the timing on their application; whether you’ve reached a plateau in learning at your current job or see an exciting opportunity that you want to act on as soon as possible, explain why this is the ideal time for you to enroll in business school. This first phase of your discussion might also describe the skills and knowledge you hope to gain from an MBA with an eye to your future plans (to be expanded on later).
Next, applicants should explain the specifics of their post-MBA plans, both the short and long term. Applicants should outline their short-term plans very specifically, including both the position the candidate hopes to hold immediately after an MBA, along with 1-2 companies one plans to target. Candidates should also describe their broader 5-10 year plan, especially since HEC asks what objective guides your career choice. It stands to reason that a long-term goal would inspire initial steps in one’s plans to get there. Beyond the “what” and the “where,” the admissions committee will also be interested in the “why”: the impact that the applicant hopes to make on an organization, sector, consumer base, or region. Finally, it would make sense for this discussion to cover the specific curricular and programmatic offerings that make the HEC MBA a fit with the applicant’s career goals and personal interests.
What do you consider your most significant life achievement? (250 words)
This is a very tall order for a 250 word essay, so brevity will be key. You’ll clearly want to select an impressive achievement to discuss – ideally one in which you had a positive impact on a person, group or organization (as it would reflect well on you to say that you consider it significant that you improved something for others). It will be important to comment not only on the results, but also on the actions and thought process by which you brought them about. If you have room after covering these points, you may add how the achievement impacted you personally. Note that the question does not limit you to the professional realm, so feel free to think of examples from your outside activities in selecting a topic for this short response.
Leadership and ethics are inevitably intertwined in the business world. Describe a situation in which you have dealt with these issues and how they have influenced you. (250 words)
Given recent high-profile ethical lapses in the business world, ethics have been a popular topic in the media. Modern business schools are expected not only to train students on business ethics and how to maintain ethical behavior, but also to screen applicants in the admissions process so as to ideally avoid admitting the next Bernie Madoff. With this question, HEC Paris wants to test your moral compass and better understand your judgment.
In regards to potential topics for this response, it’s understandable that applicants are fairly junior in their company hierarchies and therefore have limited ability to sway senior management at their firm. The school, however, does want to see that you recognize a dilemma when it comes your way, and that you can articulate what your options were and how you handled the situation. Remember, in order for there to be a dilemma, there need to be compelling reasons to go down either path. Be sure to set up the advantages of both decisions in order to convey that it was an actual dilemma. It is not necessary for you to be the one who made the final decision or the only one faced with this dilemma. The important thing is to show that you can analyze a situation, weigh the pros and cons of the paths available and, ideally, show that you contributed your point of view, rather than remaining silent. Once the details of the situation and your actions are established, conclude with a reflection on how it has influenced you. Perhaps you introduced a new process to avoid such situations in the future, or the process itself shaped your worldview.
Imagine a life entirely different from the one you now lead, what would it be? (250 words)
This prompt can give the adcom insights into your passions that you did not have a chance to divulge in other areas of the application. While it would make sense to present an alternative career path, this can also incorporate some personal elements. You may reflect on your personal interests that you wish could be a full-time job; you may consider community-based impact you hope to have and outline how you could pursue it; perhaps you had arrived at a professional crossroads after college and could explore the path you did not take. Overall, the key is to touch on your desired impact as well as new alternative interests. While you may wish you were independently wealthy and could live on a tropical island, such indulgences will not highlight your strengths as an MBA candidate.
Please choose from one of the following essays (250 words):
a) What monument or site would you advise a first-time visitor to your country or city to discover, and why?
b) Certain books, movies or plays have had an international success that you believe to be undeserved. Choose an example and analyse it.
c) What figure do you most admire and why? You may choose from any field (arts, literature, politics, business, etc).
Each of these options is another opportunity for the admissions committee to get to know you as a person. No matter which option you choose, the story should reveal something about yourself, whether your values, interests, or characteristics. Be sure to directly address the prompt from the outset, identifying your place, art or person of choice based on the prompt. It will be important to follow with a logical argument to support your assertions, but to also integrate reflections that showcase new information about yourself. Among such a diversity of topics, choice B is the toughest one, as arguing a negative can be risky. So, be sure to consider how you can present a positive answer in your approach.
Is there any additional information you would like to share with us? (900 words)
This is a relatively lengthy optional essay and, therefore, may seem more inviting. However, you’ll want to consider some questions before launching into a response. Applicants should take a conservative approach to this response, including only information, e.g. gaps in employment, a misrepresentative academic record, etc., that you believe warrants the extra item it will require for a reader to review.
Clear Admit Resources
Thanks for reading our analysis of this year’s HEC MBA essay topics. As you work on your HEC MBA essays and application, we encourage you to consider all of Clear Admit’s HEC offerings: