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2022 Women’s Forum Answers Challenges on Climate, Health, STEM and Peace

For the fourth consecutive year, HEC Paris closely collaborated in the preparation and elaboration of the Women’s Forum Global Meeting in central Paris. After last year’s edition, the school’s students, professors and alumni were at the heart of the conversation seeking to empower women who are offering solutions to a world in crisis. HEC also marked the two-day event by organizing a landmark Women4Entrepreneurship4Good competition, walking off with awards in the French Women Entrepreneurs 40 event and impressing with their five Youth Ambassadors.

14/12/2022 - Women’s Forum - 17

The stately Palais Brongniart in central Paris hosts the Women’s Forum N°17

To paraphrase Vincent van Gogh, great things are achieved by bringing together a series of small things. At the 17th edition of the Women’s Forum Global Meeting, these “small things” stood out in the Palais Brongniart where, erstwhile, the shrill financial activities of the stock exchange was closed to women from the Bourse’s inception in 1724 until... 1967. A workshop on sexual empowerment led by Camille Aumont Camel. A graffiti on the Forum’s Wall of Expression: “We are not the envelope, We are the letter inside” (Louise Aubery). An exposé of the latest crafts by Zolaykha Sherzad, the endangered Afghan textile creations driven by women in conflict zones. The remarkable path taken by Palestinian engineer, entrepreneur and INSEAD student, Hadeel Jaradat - from Hebron’s conservative circles to a leadership role in Rawabi City, Palestine. An inspirational plea for help by Alexis McGill Johnson: “Democracy is in danger in the U.S. And attacks on women’s fundamental human rights are among the first assaults of such authoritarian regimes. So this is time for fightback.”

And so many more pebbles, building up a wall of resistance to answer the theme the Women’s Forum set itself in 2022: “Time to Act for gender change”.


14/12/2022 - Women’s Forum - Hadeel Jaradat

Hadeel Jaradat, Palestinian mechanical engineer, manager and entrepreneur

Center Stage for HEC Youth

In this annual cauldron of debate and exchange, five HEC students entered as part of the Youth Voices initiative that kickstarted the event on November 28. In the words of Forum President Anne-Gabrielle Heilbronner, this workshop is organized to “connect young leaders between themselves, enrich their professional networks and take part in a tailor-made training program.” For Shivani Salokhe, this was a unique experience: “The workshop underlined how much young women like us do have the power to change,”.

The M1 student originating from Mumbai accepted the invitation to debate with mentors and 99 other youth leaders on the gender intersections with climate, health, STEM and peace. The other HEC candidates involved were Leonilde Lopes TavaresLaura GardaLaura Di Martino and Amishi Handoo. “There was a sense of urgency in our discussions,” noted Di Martino, who’s completing her double degree with Bocconi. “The climate crisis is putting all of us on a precipice. And with the help of women, we can accelerate and transform the response. Maybe not in the short-term, we still lack experience. But in the long-term, our sensitivity, cool heads in times of crisis and independence can be beneficial to all. It’s all about communication and reliable data: convincing those skeptics with strong data-based arguments.”


14/12/2022 - Women’s Forum - Leonilde Lopes Tavares, Laura Garda, Laura Di Martino and Amishi Handoo

HEC students at the Youth Voices workshops_ Leonilde Lopes Tavares, Laura Garda, Laura Di Martino and Amishi Handoo

Changing the Dynamics in the Workplace

The students were well accompanied in this inaugural edition at the Paris Bourse. Over the two days, a total of 20 HEC student and alumni volunteers, seven alumni speakers and two academic panelists engaged on themes as diverse as taking a stand for climate regulation to placing money and trust in women investments.


14/12/2022 - Women’s Forum - volunteers, academics and students

A strong delegation of HEC volunteers, academics and students

Associate Professor Shaheena Janjuha-Jivraj led a lively debate around the subject of “New working models – friends or foe for women?” The Qatar-based academic has been researching related topics for years and sees the forum debate as “a slim window of opportunity to change the dynamics at the workplace”. “This panel was really about dismantling and questioning the system that we’re working to end,” she said after the 40 minute exchange. “We’re using this as an opportunity to be able to go in and question the assumptions we’ve made – but to do it in a way that actually moves the issues forward, in a proactive way.”

The academic input, as incarnated by Janjuha-Jivraj and fellow-panelist Genevieve Smith of the Center for Equity, Gender & Leadership, Haas School of Business at the University of California-Berkeley, also underlined the importance of data. The former elaborated: “There’s a lot of hype around what’s going on and it’s not really sustainable. It’s only with statistical evidence that leaders can lead sustainable behavioral change that demonstrates belonging and improves the conditions of work.” Smith insisted on the need for behavioral statistics on the negative impact of COVID-19. “Going remote has been clearly disruptive and challenges the alignment to the employee’s purpose and feelings of belonging. It has moved women to center stage because we have a stronger sense of responsibility to protect those most endangered by this disconnect. But more research is needed on the compound effects of the pandemic.”

Elevating the Conversation


14/12/2022 - Women’s Forum - Olga Granaturova

HEC alumnus Olga Granaturova, pioneering groundbreaking research on cancer

Research and health are at the heart of Parthenon Therapeutics, the Boston-based company cofounded by HEC graduate Olga Granaturova. Its eclectic approach to recalcitrant cancers brings together scientists, engineers, bioinformaticians and innovators, all aiming to improve our understanding of the role of the tumor microenvironment in fighting the disease. “Only 10-14% of patients benefit from pharmaceutical treatment and we want to know why they are not responding,” explained Granaturova in the sidelines of a forum she knows well. As the company’s COO, she has overseen the rapid expansion of its operations, as well as ongoing work on her other firm, the non-profit association Brighter Ventures. This seeks to advance women entrepreneurship and change its image to provide different perspectives for fundraising and investment, often through a person-to-person approach. “This year’s Women’s Forum underlines the importance of human connection, including opening the Meeting up to more male involvement. We see a higher representation of men in 2022 than ever before, something to be encouraged. It elevates the conversation.”

The conversation was also clearly elevated by the second edition of Women Entrepreneurship 4 Good (WE4G), co-organized by the Forum and HEC Paris. 99 applicants from all over Europe whittled down to 18, for a program empowering women-led projects which involved sustainability, circular economy and green transition. On Day Two of the Meeting, the project founders pitched colorful and engaging presentations of their companies, in an event hosted by HEC Program Director Mathias Abramovicz (he had helped 18 of the projects which were accelerated by the school’s incubator at Station F). The 2022 WE4G competition rewarded two promising startups with widely differing objectives: the Jury’s Prize went to Wenru Shi for Fingreen AI, a company devoted to ESG data to safeguard against greenwashing; while the People’s Choice was attributed to Inès Multrier and her Nelson firm, which assists in the electrification of car fleets for major enterprises.

The fast-growing success of the competition, cosponsored by the Women’s Forum and HEC was saluted by Dean Eloïc Peyrache: “Our ambition to foster impact entrepreneurship goes far beyond the campus. This program supports women entrepreneurs all over Europe to power green transition. Congratulations to all of these entrepreneurs for showing such perseverance in pushing the agenda on sustainability and green transition.” WF President Anne-Gabrielle Heilbronner saluted the success of WE4G and the burgeoning talents it reflected. Whilst laureate Wenru Shi took the opportunity to call on more transparency and data-gathering to combat greenwashing and regulatory pressures. “AI can help end these challenges and our startup shows how an integrated ESG solutions can help financial players succeed.” Such youthful pugnacity was a common thread throughout this 2022 Meeting which united 2,300 in-person participants and 30,000 virtual guests from 145 nations. Women’s Forum now moves on to Washington DC in March and Singapore in July 2023 for further editions.