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Executive Education

A financial advisor's journey to entrepreneurship

Danielle Hatem has deftly navigated the world of business as a student, financial advisor and entrepreneur. Through her work at major financial companies - such as Merrill Lynch and FFA Private Bank - and as the founder of “D Does Business,” a blog aimed at novices in finance, she has learned the value of perseverance, being meticulous, and believing in what you do.


While creating the "D Does Business" finance blog, Danielle picked up some essential lessons that could benefit any entrepreneur in the early stages of launching their business.


The first and most important thing is to believe in yourself and believe in your idea. Unless you love what you do, you won’t be able to get through the inevitable ups and downs that are a fundamental part of any business venture.” —  Danielle Hatem



Danielle stresses the importance of having a vision, being creative and innovative, and meticulous in how your express yourself. Communicating via social media has underlined just how important this can be. When one particular comment sparked disapproval and criticism due to unintentionally controversial wording, she pushed herself to be more precise and acquire a more in-depth understanding of the psychology of her target audience.

Meticulousness is even more important when it comes to giving financial advice. “You’re working with people’s money and money is always an extremely sensitive area.” In her years as a financial advisor, she has learned just how important it is to keep track of rapidly changing markets and to remain calm when faced with unpredictable fluctuations in the global economy. “You need to be able to keep a clear head if you want to give your clients the best possible advice.”



Danielle points out that in addition to having technical abilities it’s also crucial to have strong social and networking skills. Of Lebanese and Brazilian origins, she studied for her first Master’s degree in London and has lived and worked in both France and the Lebanon. Danielle is convinced that her multicultural background helps her relate to a wide audience. She also feels that having a culturally diverse perspective has helped her understand and manage other people more effectively. Speaking four languages — English, French, Portuguese and Arabic has also been a crucial asset in adapting to different countries and cultures.



The Executive MSc in Finance program at HEC Paris has not only given Danielle theoretical and technical skills, but also given her the chance to meet and work with participants from around the world. “As well as HEC Paris being an exceptional school from an academic point of view, it has also been a very rich and rewarding experience on a human level. I’ve had the opportunity to network and learn from highly experienced people from all over the world. HEC Paris has become a family, and I’m not only talking about classmates but also about the Professors and the Program Managers.”

One of her classmates gave her an extremely important piece of advice: never give up, even when you’re frustrated, tired and things are not going your way. Getting through a challenging situation and achieving your goals, gives you the confidence and assurance that you can succeed at any time in your life.