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Developing a Purposeful Leadership

S&O Challenges

Purposeful Leadership is a fundamental part of HEC Paris' mission to shape the leaders of tomorrow who understand that their obligations go beyond the bottom line and contribute to the greater good in society.

How to find meaning in our work? What are the conditions of collective action? Is a noble goal only possible in the field of philanthropy or Corporate Social Responsibility, or can it be the main focus of a company and its activities? What principles, what methods can guide actions of today's leaders? How to create an environment that allows organizations' members to be themselves and to flourish, personally and professionally?

Purpose, or 'raison d'être', is a common good that commits and line up all co-workers of a company to the same goals. Conversely, the loss of this common purpose can be the first source of employee disengagement.

However, binding together workers' individual purposes and the company's projects is not obvious, specifically when organizations multiply contradictory conjunctions on the field. Reflecting on this issue and concrete responses to it is a major challenge at the heart of HEC's mission.

Best Buy Executive Chairman Hubert Joly and his Alma Mater signed an agreement on July 4, creating HEC’s first-ever personally endowed Chair, devoted to purposeful leadership. The 1981 graduate, who was recently recognized by Barron’s as one of the top 30 CEOs in the world, is donating €3.7 million ($4.3 million) to finance the creation of the Joly Family Endowed Chair in Purposeful Leadership. The academic director of the Society and Organizations Center (S&O), Professor Rodolphe Durand has been named as the inaugural Chair holder. Cécile de Lisle is the executive director.


We seek to understand the conditions that make organizational purpose fit with individual purposes, with the aim to contribute to common good. To this end, we identify and bring together the best international experts around the theme of purpose in business, to support research conducted by the best HEC professors. We also offer annual scholarship to a distinguished PhD student who demonstrates a strong interest in this issue.


All HEC students follow a specific track lasting for the total duration of their degree, aimed at raising awareness about the role of purpose in business and help them to put their own purposes and values at the very heart of their professional project.


Purpose and Leadership Track: Learning to know yourself and to federate for the common good


tableau  pedagogique



Focus on the First-Year Program

Even before discovering the HEC Campus and throughout their first year, students are placed in a situation to reflect on what it means to be a responsible leader in the complex economy in which they will evolve. 


The point of this program is to make students aware of the value of experience and humanities and to assist them in building their leadership style

Cécile de Lisle, Executive Director of the Purposeful Leadership Chair


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...
Purposeful Leadership - soirée de cloture - panel Frérot
The second of the three-tiered Purposeful Leadership program featured 10 business leaders who shared with HEC’s first-year students their professional and personal quests towards purpose. In a high-wire...
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 - Joly Family Endowed Chair in Purposeful Leadership
Best Buy Chairman and CEO Hubert Joly and his Alma Mater signed an agreement on July 4, creating HEC’s first-ever personally endowed Chair, devoted to purposeful leadership. The 1981 graduate, who was...
Hubert Joly
In a rousing introduction to Hubert Joly at the Matins HEC, H&C editor-in-chief Arthur Haimovici described Best Buy’s CEO as being responsible for developing “a new model for the retail industry in the...


Hubert Joly (H.81), Executive Board Chairman of Best Buy and Major Donor of HEC’s Foundation, created in July 2018, along with HEC Paris and the HEC Foundation, the Joly Family Chair in Purposeful Leadership.

Hubert Joly's exceptional gift and the commitment of Laure Fau (H.93), Nicolas Giauque (H.93), Jean-François Palus (H.84), Pascal Stefani (H.88), Valérie Valentin (H.90) and Benoît Valentin (H.90) on this topic made it possible to conduct research and set up a path on purposeful leadership for all the students of HEC throughout their studies.