HEC Donors Set Sights on More Affirmative Action and an Expansion into Paris Intra-muros
The 2018 annual convention organized by the HEC Foundation returned to the business school’s historic home of origin in central Paris on February 13. The stately building, today part of Sorbonne University on Boulevard Malesherbes, housed the business school from its founding day in 1881 until it moved to the current Jouy-en-Josas campus in 1964. It was an appropriate setting from which Foundation representatives issued a solemn promise to expand from HEC’s current campus setting with the creation of a “HEC Factory” within the walls of the French capital. There was also a commitment to provide grants to a quarter of the school’s Grande Ecole students.
“2018 is a pivotal year for HEC ,” underlined the Foundation president Bertrand Léonard. The cofounder and former administrator of Exane is one of 2,700 longtime donors to the school. He is convinced that HEC has never been in a better position from which to expand its strategy at a local and, especially, international level. «We must capitalize on our position of strength to establish alliances to expand HEC’s international stature and consolidate the advances we have made these past years ,” Léonard said.
With 125 international partners, HEC Paris appears to be in an ideal position to boost Dean Peter Todd’s drive to further internationalize its population and global stature. “Our international pedigree is in HEC’s very DNA, ” Todd told the 350 people gathered in the Sorbonne amphitheater. «There is no other business faculty in the world with a more cosmopolitan population: half of our 4,500 students are from abroad, over two-thirds of our professors are international recruits. Just compare that to my previous university, McGill in Canada, considered the most international faculty in North America with its 30-35% foreign student population. ” The Dean insisted the future will see heightened competition on a global level as HEC Paris battles to be part of the world elite. “Each student, professor, researcher will be wooed over to us thanks to our degree of international excellence, as we vie for a place among the top 10 business universities in the world ,” he said to loud applause.
The alliances over the past year have included an M2M program with Yale School of Management. There is also deep reflection on how HEC’s international ambitions can be further consolidated by strategic partnerships in France. “These alliances will feed into our reflections on how to build the strongest possible offer, a higher education faculty which will work on the great technological and social questions of the future,” Todd said.
An HEC Factory in the Heart of the Capital
The Dean also underlined the advantages of an academic pole inside the capital, a vision shared by HEC Alumni president Emmanuel Chain. “We have been working on what will be called the HEC Factory for a few years now and it should see the day very soon ,” commented the journalist and producer. “It will be something of an inspiration to have an HEC flag floating in Paris. History is accelerating and the business school must show itself to be very agile in the face of profound mutations in the academic world. ”
Foundation president Bertrand Léonard was equally emphatic about the importance of creating an HEC center inside Paris: “This pole will inspire inter-disciplinary work, bring new ideas and hope. It can become a focal point where all the stakeholders can meet and be a locomotive for major events ,” he said.
Providing Need-based Financial Support to a Quarter of HEC students
Another highlight of the Convention was the roundtable exchange entitled “Egalité des chances ”, a form of affirmative action that HEC Foundation has been devoted to for the past 40 years. “Assisting students with grants is a vital part of our role, ” explained Daniel Bernard, one of the founders of the initiative which currently accounts for 40% of the Foundation’s annual budget. “Ten years ago, only 5% of the students had access to grants. Today, it’s 18%, one of the highest percentages in France’s Grandes Ecoles system. But we are aiming for 25% within the next three years. This is one of the country’s fundamental principles: our schools of excellence must absolutely be open to everyone, regardless of their financial situation. That,” added the Foundation president, “is something which sets us apart from the Anglo-Saxon world, for example. ”
Several dozen benefactors of these Foundation grants attended the Convention and were easy to detect thanks to the bright orange T-shirts they wore. The grantees are amongst the 800 HEC students who have been supported directly through grants or thanks to partnerships with the likes of Frateli and Prodigy Finance. “It’s been a vital factor in bringing me here to realize my dream ,” said Maxime Bérillon after the Convention ended. “I come from a small village in Corsica and was really boosted by the fact the Foundation covered half my school fees for my four years here .” The second year student divides his time between a double HEC-ENSAE degree and his passions for rugby and wine-tasting. “The integration has been seamless ,” said Bérillon, “we have no idea who is and who isn’t a grantee. It’s what I appreciate at HEC: origins are respected and diversity is promoted as an asset .”
Carine Mimbe came from even further afield than the young rugby forward. The Cameroonian put on hold her promising career as an engineer and project manager in an oil and gas company in the Central African state to integrate HEC’s MBA program. “The Foundation grant was more than welcome, ” she admitted. “It’s very hard to persuade Cameroonian banks to follow you on such an expensive venture, but they were more amenable when they became aware that I was being partly backed by the HEC Foundation donors .” Mimbe only just began her 16-month course in January but her previous student experience in Paris has helped her rapidly integrate. “What I found most impressive at tonight’s event was the strong mobilization of the alumni community and its members’ humility. It really made me want to contribute myself once I graduate, give my very best to become part of the donor team later down the line .”
There were a total of 200 new donors in 2017. The Foundation donates 6% of all HEC’s resources annually. In 2018, it is set to become the school’s number one external donor.