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MBA

25 at the Top: HEC Paris MBA Alumni in the C-Suite

 

HEC Paris, a powerhouse in leadership education, stands out for its remarkable alumni achievements. With over 4,000 graduates in top business positions globally, its MBA program consistently nurtures future CEOs. From finance to technology, healthcare to hospitality, HEC alumni are reshaping industries and driving innovation, making a profound impact on the world.

We never get bored of saying it: HEC Paris has educated more CEOs of Fortune Global 500 companies than any other European business school.

Here’s the breakdown of the world’s 10 leading educational institutions, showing the number of degrees they awarded to chief executives and their companies’ combined revenues, as reported in the 2017 Times Higher Education Alma Mater Index (that’s the last time the ranking that reveals the academic backgrounds of the world’s top chief executives was published):

An MBA at HEC Paris ranks in the top 3 for the Times Higher Education's Alma Mater Index 2017 for creating MBA CEOs
Graph courtesy of the Times Higher Education Alma Mater Index

To celebrate the ongoing power of HEC Paris to forge leaders, we are highlighting 25 HEC Paris MBA graduates who are currently working worldwide in the C-Suite. With nearly 4,000 HEC Paris alumni who are CEOs, CFOs or have founded their own companies, this list is far from complete. Think of it as a small sampling of the impact HEC Paris MBA graduates are having on business worldwide.

 

Banking

1. Jean-Yves Fillion, MBA ’92, CEO, BNP Paribas USA; Chairman, CIB Americas

Jean-Yves Fillion started his career at BNP Paribas in 1984 as an account officer. He worked in several departments before deciding to earn his MBA at HEC Paris in 1990. After his studies, he returned to BNP Paribas and became Vice-President of North America’s Corporate Banking Department. He was appointed CEO of BNP Paribas USA in 2015 and took on the role of Chairman of CIB Americas in 2018.

 

Consulting

2. Pierre-Yves Cros, MBA ’84, Chief Strategy and Development Officer, Capgemini Group

As an engineering graduate of one of France’s Grande Ecoles, Pierre-Yves Cros started his career as a scientific attaché in Western Germany. In 1988, he joined Capgemini as a corporate strategy consultant, combining his scientific knowledge with his experience in strategy and transformation. In 1997 he was put in charge of the Global Operations at Gemini Consulting.  He founded and launched Capgemini Consulting in 2009, in collaboration with the MIT Center for Digital Business. In 2013, he was named Capgemini’s Chief Strategy and Development Officer.

 

3. Olivier Herold, MBA ’09, CEO, The Oxford Group

The Oxford Group provides leadership, management development and executive coaching to leading organisations in over 60 countries. Olivier Herold joined The Oxford Group as a senior consultant in 2009, soon after completing the HEC Paris MBA. His work with high-profile clients such as GE Healthcare, Société Générale and Total led to Oliver being named the group’s CEO in 2016. Since then, he has led the company’s global expansion while continuing to work with some of its most well-known clients.

 

Education

4. Xavier Romatet, MBA ’86, CEO, Institut Français de la Mode (IFM)

After completing his MBA, Xavier Romatet and fellow HEC Paris graduate Christophe Chenut created their own marketing company. In 1993, their company became part the DDB group, where Xavier held several leadership positions, including president of Rapp Collins. In 2006, he took the helm of Condé Nast France, overseeing publications such as Vogue, GQ, and Glamour. After 13 years with the famed publishing company, Xavier left his position as Vice President of Condé Naste International to become CEO of the Institut Français de la Mode. His goal is to build a world-renowned school for fashion in the heart of Paris, integrating three essential elements: management, know-how and creation. IFM welcomed its first undergraduate and graduate students in Fall 2019.

 

Environment

5. Gérald Maradan, MBA ’05, CEO and Co-founder, EcoAct

After graduating from the HEC Paris MBA in 2005, the physicist and engineer remained on campus for another six months, using the school’s study rooms as a base for creating his startup. Today EcoAct is a €40 million-a-year environmental consultancy, and Gérald Maradan has personally led more than 100 projects designed to help companies reduce their carbon footprint. He has also participated in the development of more than 25 carbon offset programs.

Gérald is also the co-founder of Entrepreneurs for Life, an NGO that supports innovative social entrepreneurs with the aim of reducing poverty in developing countries.

 

Health and Pharmaceuticals

6. Nina Sesto, PhD, MBA ’16, Head of Telemedicine, Magdalena Clinic for Cardiovascular Diseases 

Nina Sesto came to the MBA program after nearly 6 years of molecular biology research at the Insitut Pasteur. After graduating, she combined her scientific and business knowledge to co-found the Magdalena Clinic for Cardiovascular Diseases, the largest privately owned cardiovascular clinic in Croatia and surrounding regions. With 200 employees and 35 physicians on staff, the clinic treats on average 20,000 patients annually. In her role as the clinic’s Head of Telemedicine, Nina is seeking ways to leverage AI to provide 24/7 healthcare to patients, and is currently piloting a virtual nurse named Maggie. In May 2019, Nina returned to HEC Paris to deliver this TEDx Talk on her vision of the future of healthcare: personalized medicine.

 

7. Jaja Okigwe, MBA ’97, CEO and President, First Choice Health

A graduate from the HEC Paris MBA in 1997, Jaja Okigwe has 20 years of strategy and innovation expertise in the healthcare industry, moving from companies such as Deloitte – where he worked in their healthcare practice group – to Premera Blue Cross. In 2018, Jaja was appointed CEO of First Choice Health based in Seattle, Washington. The hospital- and physician-owned healthcare system provides services to 600,000 members in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Montana, Idaho, North Dakota and South Dakota through its PPO network.

 

8. Michel Vounatsos, MBA ’90, CEO, Biogen, Inc.

He speaks six languages, runs marathons and has decades of experience working for drug manufacturers in half a dozen different countries. In January 2017, Michel Vounatsos took on an even bigger challenge: leading Biogen, a Massachusetts-based biotech firm. Michel’s tenure started at a critical time, as the company delved into a new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. Biogen continues its breakthrough research in this field, and may soon have an FDA-approved drug to slow cognitive decline.

 

9. Guillaume Zagury, MBA ’90, Vice President Head of International Affairs, Oasis International Hospital

Specialized in international health policy and emergency medicine, Guillaume Zagury served as the Public Health Expert for the French Ministry of Health for 5 years. After moving to China, he became the Clinicial Head at the SOS International Hospital of Wuhan, Tianjin and Fujian, and was the consular doctor of Shanghai for two years. In 2011, he co-founded Oasis International Hospital, a private international hospital in Bejing, where he now holds the dual office of Vice President and Head of the Department of International Affairs. Both an entrepreneur and a humanist, Guillaume is involved in Doctors of the World in Afghanistan, Rwanda, Russia and Central Africa. In 2003, he headed the management of SARS in Wuhan and currently manages the COVID-19 response in Shanghai.

 

Hospitality

10. Ankit Gupta, MBA ’16, Co-founder, Dialogues Café

After living and working in countries throughout the world, Ankit Gupta wanted to return to his native India to create his startup. At Dialogues Café, patrons are charged for the time spent in the welcoming co-working space, and are provided with unlimited food and drinks–or they can choose to bring their own. Corporate level Wi-Fi, meeting spaces and a boardroom are provided, as well as a wide range of books and board games. “We wanted to focus on building collaboration, and create a space where customers could meet, dream, discuss, share and execute ideas,” Ankit explains.

 

11. Ashley Lewis, MBA ’16, Co-founder, Invest with Impact

In 2010, after establishing herself as a financial analyst and consultant, Ashley Lewis stepped away from a traditional career trajectory in finance – she’d been employed by both The Vanguard Group and Goldman Sachs – to work in Togo as a small-business development consultant with the United States Peace Corps.

Following her passion, Ashley later applied for and was accepted into a fellowship program, where she worked within an early stage accelerator. Immediately after graduating from the HEC Paris MBA, she co-founded Invest with Impact, a global platform that educates people about impact investing and helps place talent in impact investing roles throughout the world. Ashley also founded the HEC Paris alumni chapter in Nigeria, and she currently serves as its president.

 

Investment Services

12. Olivier Combastet, MBA ’86, Founder, Chairman and CEO, Pergam Finance

Nineteen years after it was founded, Pergam Finance manages assets valued at an estimated €800 million. Under Olivier Combastet’s guidance, the company has earned a reputation for finding atypical investments for its clients. From telecommunications and arable land in Uruguay and Argentina to undeveloped real estate in the US, it’s been said that Olivier, a former triathlete and current endurance swimmer, has a knack for finding investments not yet on the radars of other asset-management companies.

 

13. Ole Rollag, MBA ’02, Managing Principal, Murano Connect

Ole Rollag started his career working as bond runner for Dean Witter. Upon graduating from the MBA program, he joined Société Générale as a fund manager. In 2009, after working in banking for nearly his entire career, Ole decided to create his own asset management consulting firm, Perfecta Partners. Murano Connect spun out of that business as an “investment dating service” connecting compatible funds with investors.

 

Legal

14. Claude Niedner, MBA ’91, Partner and Chairman, Arendt & Medernach

Claude Nieder is a founding partner at Arendt & Medernach, a leading legal, tax and business-services firm in Luxembourg. After earning a law degree at the University of Strasbourg and an MBA from HEC Paris, Claude worked in the capital markets department of a major Luxembourg bank. A member of the Luxembourg Bar Association since 1993, he specializes in investment funds with a focus on hedge funds, real estate and UCITS matters.

 

15. Sabine Dittrich, MBA ’11, Global Head of Regulatory Intelligence, UBS Asset Management; Executive Committee Member, International Capital Market Association

Dr. Sabine Dittrich is a German qualified lawyer who holds a PhD in International Securities Law. After completing the HEC Paris MBA, Sabine joined UBS Asset Management and, as their head of EU Public Policy, was responsible for advising all areas of the business on EU matters. Sabine currently has equivalent of a COO position. Her team is charged with assessing regulatory impact within the EMEA, Americas and APAC on strategy and operations. She was a featured speaker at the Global RegTech Summit 2019 in London, and occasionally returns to HEC Paris as a guest lecturer.

 

Real Estate

16. Sam Abazari, MBA ’20, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, AJAN Management

Sam Abazari was already a CEO when he arrived at HEC Paris. He started his real estate business as a side career after having worked with low-income families at the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance, where he realized the true importance of housing in moving up the economical ladder. That first year in real estate was a success, with Sam achieving a 73 percent return for his investors. His goal in joining the HEC Paris MBA was to further build his business to turn around derelict properties in disadvantaged areas, creating healthy and thriving communities. While at HEC Paris, he founded the MBA’s Real Estate Club. He returns to his company, AJAN Management, after his June 2020 graduation, with a mission to make the lives simpler for landlords and tenants alike, and with a focus on the 1-4 unit residential segment.

 

Restaurant

17. Melvina Sarfati El Grably, MBA ’97, General Manager, Deliveroo France

Melvina Sarfati El Grably couldn’t have become general manager at Deliveroo France at a more tumultuous moment: she took the helm of the food delivery service in February 2020, just before France underwent a 55-day-long confinement for COVID-19. A former partner at McKinsey and Company specialized in consumer goods, Melvina also has significant experience in marketing. Directly after obtaining her MBA at HEC Paris, she joined Procter & Gamble, overseeing their marketing for France and Europe, and later becoming the Vice President of Marketing Transformation for Pernod Ricard USA. In a recent interview in Snacking, Melvina said that she intends “to help Deliveroo continue to grow, and to highlight the central role we play in the French restaurant industry.”

 

Retail

18. Marc Hanisch, MBA ’09, CEO, Dos Caballos

Despite its Spanish name, Dos Caballos is a German company established by MBA alumnus and world-class mountain biker Marc Hanisch. Using his own experience of powering through rough terrain on two horse power—the amount of force that cyclists strive for while riding a racing or mountain bike—Marc’s company, with a physical store located in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany, is both a manufacturer and distributor of high-end cycling, sports and casual wear.

 

Startups

19. Matthew Hart, MBA ’16, Founder, Soter Analytics

Matthew Hart is solving the #1 problem in industrial workplaces: injured employees. As an engineer who once managed teams for Australia’s biggest mining company, Matthew saw firsthand how lives could be ruined by physical injuries. He founded Soter Analytics shortly after graduating from the HEC Paris MBA in 2016, determined that combining big data and wearable tech could solve the $140B problem of workplace musculoskeletal injuries. Crunchbase predicts that Soter Analytics’ wearable safety device, Soter Spine, will become the new standard in preventing musculoskeletal injuries.

 

20. Summer Lindman, MBA ’16, CEO, Talkable

Summer Lindman has over 10 years of experience leading customer-facing organizations–from enterprise sales in the hospitality industry to customer success in the technology sector. She is the CEO of Talkable, a B2B SaaS referral-marketing platform that helps e-commerce companies grow their businesses through word-of-mouth and customer loyalty. Prior to joining the HEC Paris MBA in 2014, Summer worked for four years boosting the sales efforts of The Leading Hotels of the World. After completing her MBA, Summer grew the Customer Service team at Talkable from 3 to 26 people. She was named the tech company’s CEO in 2018. Currently, she is focused on transitioning the company from a product-focused business into a customer-centric organization.

 

21. Simon Valadou, MBA ’17, Co-founder and CSO, CFO, Data Soluce

Starting his career specialized in Middle East geopolitics, Simon Valadou later became Chief of Staff for a member of the French Parliament. He co-founded Data Soluce in 2016 while completing his MBA at HEC Paris.

Data Soluce’s SaaS platform allows property investors and developers to effectively monitor real estate projects. The platform unifies multiple, but typically disconnected, databases and software throughout a building’s lifecycle, creating an interactive information source that can be used by all the project stakeholders. Data Soluce delivered its first Proof of Concept in 2018. In 2019, the company completed a successful multimillion-euro fundraising, and earned the Pass French Tech label given to hyper-growth startups.

 

22. Cécile Villette, MBA ’16, CEO and Co-founder, Altaroad

An engineer with 10 years telecommunications experience under her belt, Cécile completed the HEC Paris MBA in 2016. Her project during the MBA’s Entrepreneurship Specialization studied the feasibility of bringing the IoT sensors developed by scientists Rihab Jerbi and Bérengère Lebental to market. In 2017, the three women decided to make their idea a reality, launching Altaroad, an innovative deeptech startup which aims to make mobility smarter, safer and more environmentally friendly. Altaroad’s IoT technology uses special patented sensors to collect road data, then publishes traffic insights in real time. In 2019, Challenges Magazine named Altaroad “one of 100 startups to invest in.”

 

Technology

23. Alain Monié, MBA ’75, CEO, Ingram Micro Inc.

Beginning his 35-year-long career in Mexico as a civil engineer, Alain Monié currently leads the world’s leading technology distributor, Ingram Micro. His storied career includes 15 years in Asia forging Allied Signals’ expansion into China and India, and two years as president of the Latin American Division of Honeywell International. Since being named CEO of Ingram Micro in 2012, he has emphasized corporate strategies and profitable growth initiatives. The privately held company reported a revenue of $11.76 billion in the first quarter of 2018, and in 2019 was ranked 64th on the Fortune 500 list. Alain currently also serves as a board director for Amazon.com.

 

Travel

24. Nikki (Ran) Wang, MBA ’10, General Director and Co-founder, TheWaysBeyond

Having worked for years at Fortune 500 companies in Beijing, Nikki Wang came to France to pursue her MBA degree at HEC Paris. After graduation, she worked as a corporate auditor while traveling around the world for her work and freelancing for leading lifestyle publications in China. Her latest venture is TheWaysBeyond, a travel company that creates bespoke cultural learning experiences specialized in art, design, heritage and excellent french craftsmanship in Paris and Ile de France for corporations and groups.

 

Venture Capital

25. Pascal Cagni, MBA ’86, CEO, C4 Ventures; Chairman of Board of Business France and French Ambassador for International Investments

Pascal Cagni’s career trajectory is simply legendary. A chance encounter with Steve Jobs on the Big Island of Hawaii (where the Apple co-founder was celebrating his 45th birthday) ended with Pascal accepting the position of General Manager and Vice President of Apple Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). Under his 12-year tenure, Apple’s EMEA revenue increased from $1.3 billion in 2000 to nearly $40 billion in 2012.

In 2014, Pascal founded C4 Ventures, a venture capital fund that invests in European startups and companies wanting to enter European markets. In 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron appointed him Chairman of the Board of Business France and Ambassador for International Investments.