Skip to main content
About HEC About HEC Faculty & Research Faculty & Research Master’s programs Master’s programs MBA Programs MBA Programs PhD Program PhD Program Executive Education Executive Education Summer School Summer School HEC Online HEC Online About HEC Overview Overview Who
We Are Who
We Are
Egalité des chances Egalité des chances HEC Talents HEC Talents International International Campus
Life Campus
Sustainability Sustainability Diversity
& Inclusion Diversity
& Inclusion
Stories Stories The HEC
Foundation The HEC
Coronavirus Coronavirus
Faculty & Research Overview Overview Faculty Directory Faculty Directory Departments Departments Centers Centers Chairs Chairs Knowledge Knowledge Master’s programs Master in
Management Master in
Master in
International Finance Master in
International Finance
Masters Specialized
Ecole Polytechnique
-HEC programs Ecole Polytechnique
-HEC programs
programs Dual-Degree
students Visiting
Certificates Certificates Student
Life Student
MBA Programs MBA MBA Executive MBA Executive MBA TRIUM EMBA TRIUM EMBA PhD Program Overview Overview HEC Difference HEC Difference Program details Program details Research areas Research areas HEC Community HEC Community Placement Placement Job Market Job Market Admissions Admissions Financing Financing Executive Education Executive Masters Executive Masters Executive Certificates Executive Certificates Executive short programs Executive short programs Online Online Companies Companies Executive MBA Executive MBA Infinity Pass Infinity Pass Summer School Youth Programs Youth Programs Summer programs Summer programs HEC Online Overview Overview Degree Program Degree Program Executive certificates Executive certificates MOOCs MOOCs Summer Programs Summer Programs

TEACH - First Year Program Grand Ecole

Purposeful Leadership

100% of the HEC students follow the Purpose and Sustainability program to focus on what makes sense to them in their relationships with others, their professional project and the company’s corporate purpose. There is three stages during the first year of this program, allowing students to experiment, take a step back and explore these issues in greater depth.

Experimenting in Chamonix

All of the students who take part in the Master in Management (MiM) Grande Ecole program at HEC Paris follow the Purpose and Sustainability Track throughout their studies.

The objective is to train to purpose and leadership by experience and humanities and to invite them to reflect personally on their own search of meaning and on how to become a "responsible leader".

Reflecting on questions of purpose requires a movement away from an academic, scholarly logic to a process of authenticity, sharing and responsibility

Even before the new first-year students set foot on campus, they met for 4 days of seminar in Chamonix.

They were asked to experiment with the issues of meaning through role-play situations that encouraged them to question themselves (supported by professional coaches), to excel as a team (for example, towards collective action and decision-making exercices with young officers) or to question the mission, the 'raison d'être" of companies (by learning about the purpose of local leaders).

During this seminar, they will explore 3 dimensions of the leadership:

  • Be yourself”: Purposefully lead self – Authenticity axis
  • Be with”: Purposefully lead others – Team leadership axis
  • Be for”: Purposefully lead organizations – Mission axis

Social and environmental issues were also brought to life for the students, especially during their unforgettable experience learning about the retreat of the glacier in Chamonix and hearing insights from leading climatologists.



"The students come out of difficult, studious years of preparatory classes, and we wanted this seminar to be both a breath of fresh air and a way to open up their horizons." Julie Thinès, Academic Director of the Grande Ecole Programs.

Luc Moreau, Glaciologue
Purpose & Sustainability Track: Retour d'expérience
Ludovic Ravanel, géomorphologue et chercheur au laboratoire EDYTEM (CNRS)

A new perspective, thanks to exceptional testimonials


After visiting these exceptional places, meaning finds expression in exceptional men and women. A series of conferences is organized given the students the opportunity to meet with inspirational business leaders, who recount how, in all circumstances and despite the conflicting demands of a given economic environment, they have tried to be themselves, to be with their teams and be faithful to their corporate mission. For the first edition in 2019, the students appreciated the sincerity and depth of the testimonials provided, including those from Antoine Frérot (CEO Veolia Environnement), Hubert de Boisredon (CEO Armor), Antoine Lemarchand (CEO Nature et Découvertes), Christopher Guérin (CEO Nexans), and Emery Jacquillat (CEO Camif Matelsom).

In-depth, in touch with reality and in a sustainable way


Once these questions had been asked, the students chose to explore in greater depth the one that was of particular interest to them. This exercise, informed by the use of the humanities and social sciences, was rooted in the real-life experiences of the companies and their employees, who hosted the students and allowed them to ask questions about their corporate purpose and the meaning of their actions. Since the beginning of the adventure in 2018, around 100 companies were involved in hosting the students. 

These discussions have become high-quality dissertations on subjects as varied as taking vulnerabilities into account or the inversion of hierarchy in companies, the best of which were recognized by Denis Machuel (CEO Sodexo) for the first edition on November 2019. Finally, the students learned about the environmental and social issues that are essential to reinventing a company and harnessing its potential for the common good. A rewarding first year on a program that the students will follow throughout their studies, learning how to bring a human dimension to business.

signal Forbes - vignette
From August 21 to 24, all the new students from the Master in Management were in Chamonix for the "Purpose and Sustainability" seminar. The objective? To enable them to understand the challenges of the...
Etudiants HEC Paris - Chamonix (© Quentin Iglésis - Mountain Path)
For the second time ever, HEC’s first year L3 students began their school career with the off-campus “Purpose & Sustainability” seminar. 370 freshmen converged on the Alpine village of Chamonix for a...
Purposeful leadership - remise des prix denis machuel - HEC paris
Sodexo CEO Denis Machuel helped bring down the curtain on the three-month freshman course in a closing ceremony featuring 381 students, 18 tutors and a top academic team from the S&O Center. The event...
HEC Paris - Mont Saint-Michel - Purposeful Leadership - Sept. 2019
A year after creating the Joly Family Endowed Chair in Purposeful Leadership, HEC Paris launches its three-year sense and leadership program, destined for the entire HEC Grande Ecole 2019 intake. A...
Jérôme Lacaille, président directeur général du Crédit Immobilier de France
Noémie Gélis, étudiante en première année à HEC Paris
Diane d'Audiffret, directrice générale de SIS UP

Best thesis 2019

Federate for or federate against?

Is a group and the purpose it adheres to be formed by a process of coalescence antagonist or coalescing assimilationist?

Vulnerability in groups

Is it a sign that we are vulnerable, and that we take into account the vulnerability of others? weakness and a risk to performance, or a strength, a sign of meaning, of authenticity in our relationship with each other and collective success?

Does reversing the hierarchy from time to time lead to efficiency gains?

In exceptional situations, competence must take precedence over hierarchy; more generally, organizations adopting this flexible and pragmatic management approach maximize their efficiency.

Best Thesis 2020

How to make an action meaningful for the person carrying it out?

The explanation is useful for a transmission of purpose in the company and since it allows a transfer of responsibility, it allows the opening of a dialogue within the company's hierarchy.

Does changing one's life allow one to rediscover its meaning?

The search for meaning most often presides over the change of life. But changing your life too often risks exhausting this notion of meaning.

Does the horizontal structure interfere with performance?

Without a shared common sense in the company, the horizontal structure cannot work.