HEC Data Minds now extends beyond campus
HEC Data Minds is the first student association at HEC Paris dedicated to the promotion of data science. It was created in 2018 and has been supported since its inception by the HEC IDEA Center and its professors.
We interviewed former club president Mikko Preuss, who led a close-knit and highly motivated team that expanded the club beyond the campus. He also introduces in this article the new team that will succeed him.
Hello Mikko, could you tell us more about you?
Salut, I’m Mikko Preuss from Germany. I am currently graduating from the 2-years Master in Management (Grande Ecole) program at HEC Paris.
My professional background includes working in the Renewable Energy sector for Siemens as well as in digital strategy and transformation consulting.
HEC Paris was my first choice for many reasons. Above all, I wanted to combine academics with an entrepreneurial environment that would allow me to challenge myself both in the lecture room and in “real life”. Secondly, the international and diverse student body at HEC is absolutely unique and very inspiring, which encouraged me to apply in order to grow my personal network even more. Last but not least, I simply love France and as a convinced European, I value its political, cultural and economic role in Europe. Now that I am facing the end of my studies, I can conclude that these two years at HEC Paris have (already) shown a lasting, positive impact both academically, professionally and personally.
What did motivate you to create this association and become its president?
HEC Data Minds is the first students association at HEC Paris dedicated to promoting data science. Our motto “Dare to go beyond”, inspired by HEC’s slogan “Apprendre à oser”, accurately reflects the aspiration and activities of our driven community. We provide data- and digital-related skills and insights beyond the business curriculum, our events encourage involvement beyond the classroom and our network of partners and guests spans beyond the campus.
The outlook to provide a lasting value to the student community at HEC and at the same time to train my own skills for example in python coding, data analytics and organizational leadership, inspired me to become president of Data Minds and bring it to the next level.
Was it easy to form a team and launch the first projects?
Our great team was indeed the key to our success. Recruiting the right people in the beginning of the semester was the first and probably most important project for us as a new board - and we were overwhelmed by the feedback: Almost 200 students showed interest in joining Data Minds. We ended up with a diverse and energetic group of 35 students from 19 countries, representing many of the academic programs at HEC. This wo-/manpower enabled us to organize our first events already by mid October.
We received a lot of support from different stakeholders at HEC Paris, both organizationally and financially. The IDEA Center and its representatives have always been a supportive key partner along the way. The campus life office has provided funds, same as the society & organizations center. For individual events, we also cooperated with the law faculty. Since we’ve joined the HEC Paris Students Union (HPSU) as one of its first member clubs, they have also been a great support, especially on an administrative side.
How many events have you organized and what are the most important ones?
In the academic year 2019/20, we have organized 19 events (11 open, 8 internal). Each event, no matter if fireside chat at Toucan Toco, webinar with Celonis, or workshop with Microsoft, had its individual purpose and charme. For me personally, the Collabathon that we co-organized with Yale Open Lab in November was a real highlight. For two days, HEC students and guests from other schools, such as école 42, worked on data-based solutions to tackle climate change. To me, this is a perfect example for how motivated and skilled individuals can use technology and data as tools to bring value to our global society.
Could you introduce the new team?
For now, there are three new board members who take over responsibility for the club, keeping one leadership position open for a new candidate next year:
- Čedomir Ljubic, Grande Ecole student from Austria, is the new President and head of events.
- Benedikt Kruft, double degree student from TU Munich, is the new Treasurer and head of ecosystem development.
- Louis Fialho, double degree student in the Data Science for Business program, is the new head of knowledge development.
What do you wish the new team for the coming months? And what are you going to do on your side?
First, I’d like to thank our previous team for their commitment and amazing output! I have no doubts that the new leadership team is in the pole position to successfully continue Data Minds’ journey. In their and our all interest, I hope that the difficult circumstances due to Covid-19 will soon allow a transition back to “normality” and that the next semester can start without complications. Despite the special situation, I encourage all my peers to also see the opportunities that each challenge brings to life. Following the old maxim that the glass is always 100% full, the key is not just to see the water but also the air.
As far as I’m concerned, I am about to finish my master thesis soon. In parallel, I am working on two different startup projects, before I am going to join a large strategy consulting firm in some months.
Čedomir Ljubic, President of the HEC Data Minds 2020-2021
"Our motto at HEC Data Minds is to dare to go beyond, and the next academic semester will surely put this to the test. Thanks to the reliable work and the way that Mikko and the previous team have paved for us this year, at HEC Data Minds we are confident that the association will be able to outgrow the challenges put in front of us in the coming year. We already have a lot of projects in store waiting for next semester and can't wait to share them with you. "