John Hayden, HEC Paris Moving to France and first impressions

The next stage of my MBA journey is really the beginning. Moving to France on a Friday resulted in my last week in London becoming a balancing act of saying goodbye to friends and family with last minute administration I should have completed weeks ago.

With my car packed up I made what was a relatively short trip in comparison to many of my classmates down to the HEC campus near Versailles.

The campus at HEC is vast with a plethora of facilities, however as it sits outside a major town it is also serene and quiet, ideal for studying. The bulk of MBA students initially choose to stay within a specified MBA residence that is slightly removed from other halls of residence. The 5,000m2 MBA building completed in 2012 is only a stone’s throw away making my morning commute somewhat different to battling on the District Line back in London.

With the majority of MBA students based in the same residence we were given the opportunity to meet and help each other settle in over the weekend. Some people took trips to Paris while others decided to visit local retail parks to buy home comforts for their rooms.

Monday has seen the beginning of our orientation programme. The MBA associate dean Bernard Garrette and “his boss” the dean of HEC Bernard Ramanantsoa both gave passionate presentations on what can be achieved at HEC and how one can maximise the 16 months of the programme. The HEC MBA is based on collaboration and is diverse in its make up of nationalities and professional backgrounds. We were advised to work together and embrace globalisation in order to be truly successful.

This term, alongside core subjects and French language classes, there is a focus on personal development through understanding oneself. Social modelling is used over the term and individual confidential reports produced to give people a better understanding of how they are perceived and where their strengths/weaknesses lie in communication. This exercise is produced to make everyone more self-aware and hopefully better leaders.

It has already become obvious with all these activities that the workload is going to be extremely demanding over the next 16 months. However, orientation solidified in my mind that choosing to do an MBA at HEC was the correct decision and I am looking forward to the coming weeks.