HEC Review

If you’re an MBA applicant, you can add to the list HEC Paris, one of Europe’s finest business schools. If you want a global MBA or hope to some day work in France, the school needs to be at the top of your list.

HEC alums are well placed at the very top of many of France’s most important companies and in the government, and it’s an ideal choice for MBAs who dream of working in luxury marketing. In fact, a dozen of the 40 largest publicly-traded companies in France have an alumnus of HEC Paris as CEO or managing director. Among CEOs of Fortune Global 500 companies, HEC ranks third in the world and first in Europe. That is a powerful alumni network, especially if you are French or pursue a career in France.

Did you know HEC Paris MBA is one of the most selective european MBA program even more than INSEAD and LBS? Also HEC paris provides the best return on investment with an average 152% hike in post MBA Salaries.

Good Things:

  • HEC Paris has been consistently rated as the best B-school by Economist when it comes to ROI on your investment in B-school. With a tuition as low as 64K euros and an average 152% jump in post MBA salary,  HEC Paris should be your default choice if you are looking for ROI.
  • HEC Paris is a 16 month programs with the flexibility to do an internship, something which other short duration programs lack. This is really good for people looking to change industries or sectors.
  • With a 93% success rate and average salary of $ 112K HEC placement stats are better than INSEAD.  

Things to Consider:

  • HEC Paris is not located in Paris.
  • HEC is more of an Industry focused school. Not particularly on Consulting or Investment Bankings. However they do send fair amount of students in these domains every year.  
  • Just like INSEAD, HEC Paris focuses a lot on international experience and needs you to fill painstaking 8 essays. If you don’t have international exp. Consider wisely.

HEC Class Profile

HEC Placement report

HEC Paris - Winning Sample Essay - 2

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)

I have been working in technology consulting for more than 5 years. While working with PwC US for 3 years in multiple global engagements, I have developed excellent client-facing skills, technical proficiency, and above all leadership capability to lead culturally diverse teams.

Most of my experience is in technology implementation consulting for US clients. While, working alongside with management consultants, I have become really fascinated with business strategy development. These experiences have motivated me to step up from implementation to strategy aspect of technology consulting. Needless to say, equipped with an engineering degree in electronics there are marginal chances of making such functional shift as strategy formulation requires an understanding of business fundamentals besides technical knowledge.

After 5 years of experience, I have identified what I would like to do in short term and the gaps which I need to fill in order to achieve my short-term objective. Therefore, I think now would be the perfect time for me to pursue a business education which can equip me with business fundamentals.

After extensive research and conversation with Alumni, I believe HEC Paris MBA program, (rated as the 2nd best B-school in Europe by Financial Times) is in perfect sync with my targeted goals and desired learning from an MBA program.

The 3 most critical factors which make HEC a perfect fit for me are:

Specialization in strategy – Core courses in big data, business analytics and management consulting will provide me with required business knowledge. Whereas specialization courses in, technical product development and technology analysis will help me utilize my experience in tech consulting to make the leap into the tech-strategy consulting roles.

Fieldwork – To complement the rigorous course structure, HEC provides the unique opportunity to do a fieldwork project which can help me get acquainted with my targeted industry and present my skill sets to suitable employers. I am especially interested in participating in GCP (Global Consulting Practicum) as it will give me an opportunity to gain real-time consulting experience while working on socially driven projects that I am deeply passionate about.

Integrated Leadership – The best aspect I loved about HEC’s MBA is its unique approach of instilling leadership through action and events such as MBAT and Saint-Cyr Military seminar. I have played sports at national level during high school and have organized multiple sports and cultural events in college and workplace. I am highly excited and see myself organizing MBAT events. It will be a great opportunity to further hone my leadership and organizational skills.

For a girl who deeply admires Sheryl Sandberg and wants to follow her footsteps and break into the C-suite, joining the Alma matter of CEO’s would be a dream come true. I am confident that HEC’s unique approach to leadership, diversity in class and focus on career transformation, will help me achieve my professional objectives. I also believe with my academic potential, diverse experiences across consulting, start-ups and social work, I can add significant value to HEC’s community and incoming class of 2019.

What do you consider your most significant life achievement? (250 words)

“Experiences shape who we are”. I am a firm believer of this philosophy, a seeker of novel opportunities and a dreamer of a world with love and compassion.

Last year, I volunteered for NIMHANS rehabilitation program. The program was aimed to equip patients recovered from psychological disorders with livelihood skills and to help them integrate back into society.

Day one of the program, at the hospital after a brief orientation I was introduced to a group of individuals. Due to taboos associated with mental illness, there are not many volunteers in this field, therefore for them, interaction with outside visitors was very rare. After a few conversations, the participants warmed up to me. Many of them had good qualifications but unfortunate incidents led them to their current situation. What moves me is the fact that despite such hardships they yearn to get back on their own feet.

I helped NIMHANS design an eight-week skill development program. I started mentoring 3 individuals. Over the period, I could notice the confidence they developed because of my support. I constantly motivated them to let go any inhibitions. It was a truly lo-and-behold moment when after four months of continuous efforts, all 3 of them got a Tele-calling job.

Through this soul-satisfying experience, what I achieved and now proudly possess, is a stronger conscious freed from prejudgment or discrimination of any sort. This experience has truly changed my perspective towards life and that is why I consider it to be my most significant achievement.

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)

Leadership decisions are often guided by our work ethics. The higher you stand on the ladder of leadership the higher is the onus on you lead by an example.

In January 2016, following my passion for entrepreneurship, I joined the 3 member founding team of an app based start-up named “Pixtory”, alongside my full-time job at PwC. With time as the team grew from 3 to 13 members, my responsibility increased from coding to leading the entire engineering team. The work stretched from 2-3 hours to full 7-8 hours of part time work. All this effort paid off when we got our first funding and venture capitalist (VC) came on-board. After VC’s came on-board, we set out with new targets and my responsibilities increased and required 100% commitment as the basic concept turned into a full-blown start-up.

On one hand, I had a lucrative career at PwC with financial security and on other hand an Idea which I have worked so hard upon to give shape to. Due to the financial constraints, I was not able to quit PwC and I knew it would not be ethical for me to hold onto a lead engineering position to which I will not able to give my 100%, while the entire team was pouring their heart and soul.

I took the ethical decision to step down, and let someone else lead the efforts from front. Painful as it was, but I felt it was the right decision for the benefit of Pixtory.

Imagine a entirely different life from the one you lead, and what it would be?

If I were to imagine a different life, I would imagine myself to be a doctor. My mom, was the principal of a rural school where she regularly organized medical camps for the local community. I always used to accompany her and that’s where my interest aroused in the medical profession.

I fondly remember, in rural parts of India where having electricity is a luxury, doctors in medical camps were treated as gods. India suffers from one of the worst doctors to population ratio and it was this field where I wanted to contribute.

I started out on the purpose by taking a keen interest in biology, volunteer at medical camps and learn from doctors. But life had different plans for me. After high school, I failed to a secure seat in the medical college I so desperately wanted. On the other hand, I secured an admission into our state’s’ best engineering college with a handsome scholarship.

It’s no secret that the journey of a medical student is long, arduous and filled with expensive education loans. Coming from a middle-class family where money always fell short of aspirations, turning down the engineering degree with a scholarship left me at a difficult crossroad.

Keeping education finance in focus I had to let go of my dream and chose to be an engineer. I believe I turned out to be a great engineer but in a different life, I would wish to go back and follow my heart to impact the life of million others.

What figure do you admire the most and why?

Myself being a strong advocate of gender equality, I admire Sheryl Sandberg since the day I watched her famous TedTalk on “Why we have too few women leaders?”. Her leadership qualities and passion towards creating gender equality are truly admirable. She has triggered a debate across the world on the challenges/ceilings women face that deter them from making it to the top of the corporate world.

I am an integral member of PwC’s WIT(Women In Technology) group focused on empowering PwC women to succeed in technology space. Drawing inspiration from her teachings of involving others to achieve a vision, I initiated many of the career development seminars and networking events involving female staff members from our India, China and US offices.

Her book “Lean In” is a landmark manifesto for women like me who aspires to break the glass ceiling and climb up the career ladder. There seems to be something in that book’s every chapter that strikes a chord with me. “Life and career are like a jungle gym” – her advice to look for growth and impact outside traditional careers motivated me to co-found a start-up that is now backed by multiple venture capitalists.

I truly believe in her vision that the world will be a better place when half of the countries and half of the companies are run by women. Like her, I also aspire to be in the C-suite of a company and work towards the mission of creating more women leaders.

HEC Paris - Winning Sample Essay - 1

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 max)

During the 4 years that I have worked with Deloitte Consulting USI, I have mainly worked on technology enabling and process improvement. Now, I want to shift towards product management roles within technology sector which requires a keen understanding of business strategy, roadmap and feature definitions that go behind a product.

The Indian IT services industry has been navigating troubled waters since last US presidential elections and Brexit. Changes in US and UK government policies have forced the Indian IT services players to change strategy from using labour and salary arbitrage and to focus on developing niche product offerings. The whole services market is seeing a surge in reskilling and hence I believe this is the perfect time for me to upgrade my professional skills as well to achieve my desired short-term goal. Given my 4 years of experience in IT consulting, there is no straightforward approach to break into product management roles unless, I retool with an MBA.

My major professional objective in the short term is to switch to product management roles. In the long-term, I aspire to come back to India as an entrepreneur in the technology sector. After extensive research and detailed conversations with alumni, I find HEC’s MBA program to be in perfect sync with my targeted goals and learning requirements due to the following 3 reasons –

Curriculum and certification programs – I believe, HEC’s extensive curriculum has a good focus on technology sector with courses such as new product development, consumer intelligence, and business development in companies. I am especially interested in the digital transformation and digital entrepreneurship certification programs. These customized courses and certificates can help me advance my past technical experience and prepare for the transformation I am seeking in my career.

Paris Saclay and Station F – For a tech consultant aspiring to move into product management, a privileged access to world’s largest startup campus would be like a dream come true. I can leverage HEC’s Elab, it’s role in Paris Saclay and station F to work alongside some of the hottest startups in the tech world. I am confident that I can use this exposure to strengthen my profile and open potential arenas for me to consider post MBA.

What do you consider your most significant life achievement? (250 words max)

“Education is the most powerful tool to change the world”, said Nelson Mandela. In my life, I endeavour to equip as many underprivileged children with this powerful tool as I can.

During my undergraduate I joined an NGO named Pratigya, “a student initiative dedicated to imparting education to underprivileged children”. There, I observed that all classes had very irregular attendance and poor grades. I gathered a team of volunteers and reached out to these children’s families. We discovered that many of our students had pulled out of school and accompanied their parents to work due to financial constraints.

Seeing these children’s hardships strengthened my resolve to bring a positive change in their life. My team and I decided to launch a fundraising drive to support their education.

Through our drive we raised €2000 to sponsor 40 kids. I personally took a pledge to sponsor and mentor 3 girls. With time, I developed a special connection with the 3 of them and I could notice their growing confidence and interest in their studies because of my encouragement. I continued to support them every year and the proudest moment of my life came when all 3 of them graduated high school and were motivated to pursue their dreams and further education.

I received many appreciations and votes of thanks. It was my life’s most gratifying experience which gave a new purpose and direction to my life and that’s why I consider it to be my life’s most significant achievement.

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 max)

“Supreme quality of leadership is unquestionably integrity” said Dwight D. Eisenhower. As a consultant, I have often found myself in ethical dilemmas that directly test my integrity as a leader.

Last year, my team of 3 analysts and I developed a user interface to automate RNDC’s (Client) invoicing process. As the tech lead on the project, I was responsible for the internal quality audit of our programming code. During my final quality audit after receiving client’s approval to release the code for production, I found a defect in my analyst’s code.

Fixing the defect would require 5 days and additional cost of $ 10K on Deloitte’s account. Since the application had already received client’s approval, my team’s initial consensus was to flag it and fix it during our first maintenance follow up. It was the most optimal solution but delivering a defective application challenged my integrity as a team lead and made me question the example I would set before my subordinates.

After taking my team into confidence, I openly communicated our late discovery to our client and requested additional time. The client agreed and appreciated this open communication and ethical approach to decision-making.

Post final release, based on our flawless delivery and ethical business practices, the client recommended our team for the Project Award. This experience taught me 2 very important business lessons – crisis truly tests one’s integrity as a leader and ethical business practices help build strong successful relationships.

Imagine a life entirely different from the one you now lead, what would it be?(250 words max)

If I were to imagine a life entirely different from the one that I lead now, I would imagine myself as a famous poet and fiction writer.

I wrote my first poem on a beautiful flower at the age of 10. My teachers really

appreciated it and published it in the school magazine. It eventually got selected to be published in the national daily Hindustan Times. Since then, my mother always encouraged me to pursue my hobby of poetry and story writing.

My poems and stories occasionally got published in reputed magazines and national dailies. As I grew up writing became an integral part of my life, as it liberated my thoughts and gave a constructive vent to my feelings and observations. I have written for school and college magazines as chief editor and last year, I finally managed to get my own book “Light in the Creek” published by a reputed publication in India. Publishing my own book is one of my life’s most satisfying achievements.

Given a second chance, I would love to relive that satisfaction every day and take up writing as a profession. I would use my writing as a medium to set my soul free and spread awareness on matters close to my heart such as child abuse and poor primary education in developing countries. It would be my silent activism to inspire action on these chronic issues. Books shaped my life and one day I wish to do the same for others. 

What monument or site would you advise a first-time visitor to your country or city to discover, and why?

If I were to advise a tourist  interested in spirituality and India’s religious heritage, to visit a site in India, I would advise him to visit the city of Varanasi and Varanasi’s Ghats (river-banks of the river Ganges).

I have visited Varanasi multiple times, yet its ineradicable spirit of faith and devotion has always fascinated me. Varanasi is one of the world’s oldest cities and the epicenter of Hindu religion.

Varanasi’s streets are strewn with old shrines, hermitages, forts and palaces which take a visitor on a time-travel to the genesis of Indian civilization. As one takes a city tour, one can observe the bearings of different religions and learn about the long religious history of India. The narrow lanes interspersed with old Muslim mosques, Hindu shrines and Jain temples bear testimony to cultural harmony and present the vibrant religious colours of India in one palette.

Varanasi is also called the spiritual capital of India and city of lights. It’s Ghats are always illuminated with millions of earthen lamps. One should definitely attend the evening Ganga Aarti (prayer) at Dashashwamedh Ghat to experience the characteristic sanctitude and vitality of the Indian spirituality. One can witness the spectacular magnificence of the Aarti procession and connect with their faith and inner-self .

I visit this place whenever I need to recharge and reconnect with myself. Therefore, anyone seeking to explore India’s colourful religious history and their own spirituality should definitely visit the city of Varanasi and the river-banks of the Ganges.


These essays give the adcom a well-rounded view of you – they go beyond what you’ve done to capture how you think and respond, even how you imagine. Moreover, they require you to communicate complex thoughts and experiences in few words. For the four short essays especially, don’t waste words on conventional introductory and concluding paragraphs. Jump right into your point or story, and use straightforward sentences that avoid wordy constructions (e.g. “had the opportunity to”); don’t feel shy using direct, declarative sentences. This writing approach has an added benefit: it conveys confidence. Since there are several essays, I suggest first sketching out ideas for them all, then stepping back to see how all these facets add up as a whole, and adjusting topics if/as necessary to avoid redundancy and ensure a well-rounded presentation.

Essay 1:

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 maximum)

This is a traditional goals question with a couple of twists.

• First, the “why now” part should be explicitly addressed, even if it seems obvious.  Briefly is fine – the essay overall should make this case ultimately.

• Second, the “professional objective” is essentially your long-term career vision. The question implies that this vision or goal will drive your preceding steps, so present your shorter-term goal(s) in that context: show how they pave the way for you to pursue and achieve your ultimate professional objective.

• Be brief but specific when discussing the HEC MBA – tie directly to goals, and detail the 2-3 points about the program that are most meaningful to you.

Finally, connect the dots. This essay, well done, will convey how your goals grow organically from your experience and are achievable given your past experience and an MBA from HEC.

Essay 2:

What do you consider your most significant life achievement? (250 words maximum)

Most significant life achievement – for many people, work accomplishments may not rise to this level.  Imagine if, for example, you state that boosting your organization’s bottom-line (by whatever amount) is your greatest life achievement – the adcom might wonder about your values or whether you really have a life. If you can say that, while boosting the bottom line, you also saved jobs or lessened negative environmental impacts, that would be more substantial. 

For many people, this story will be personal – I think of clients who have persevered through, managed, and overcome major family crises. For others, it will involve impact with community, religious, and/or social organizations or groups; for yet others it could involve a major milestone such as a national sports ranking or photo exhibit or music performance.

Whatever topic you select, with only 250 words, simply narrate the story and include the results or impact. It should be perfectly clear from the content why this is indeed your most significant life achievement.

Essay 3:

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 maximum)

Again, keep the structure simple: tell the story, and end with a brief discussion of how the experience has influenced you. It may seem like a challenge to identify an experience that encompasses both leadership and ethics. However, addressing an ethics challenge will almost inherently require leadership (often informal), whether on your part or someone else’s. When you explain how it influenced you, don’t just state generalities; give a specific example.

Essay 4:

Imagine a life entirely different from the one you now lead, what would it be? (250 words maximum)

This essay is an opportunity to show a different side of yourself. Describe an imagined life that reflects something meaningful to you. Make it vivid, show your passion. Note that the question does NOT ask what you would do if not in your current life/role; it asks you to imagine a life.  Use that openness to express your creativity, passion, and interest vividly. In doing so, however, avoid being abstract. Weave in and employ your actual knowledge and experience, e.g., if you love ballet and are an avid ballet-goer, you could build your imagined life in a way that uses your knowledge of and passion for dance. The reader would learn something interesting about you – and your prospective contribution to the social milieu of the program.

Essay 5:

Please choose from one of the following essays: (250 words maximum)

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.).

All these options are equally good – choose the one that resonates the most with you; the one that you want to answer. It’s another opportunity to showcase your interests and passions. The “why” part is key: avoid platitudes, be specific and present focused, fresh insights.

Essay 6: 

Is there any additional information you would like to share with us?(900 words max)

This question invites you to explain anything that needs explaining (e.g., gap in employment, choice of recommender, a bad grade, etc.) as well as to present new material that will enhance your application. If you choose to do the latter, make sure it’s a point that is essential for a clear and full picture of your candidacy. They give you a lot of words to work with; don’t think that you must use all 900!

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