HEC Imagine, using the power of peace to transform business
HEC Imagine is a new student club, launched in September 2022 in the continuity of the HEC Imagine Fellows Scholarship Program, that enables talented students from war-torn regions to complete a master’s degree at HEC Paris. Let’s meet the four founders of HEC Imagine: Anna Grosz, Arthur Lamy, Nicolas Chatelais, and Bibi Behishta Nazir.
Nicolas Chatelais, Arthur Lamy et Anna Grosz
How can business be a force for peace? How can youth act, as war has broken out on Europe’s doorstep and so much regions are affected by conflict? How can a campus gathering more than 110 nationalities be a laboratory for inter-cultural understanding and peace? HEC Imagine is a new student association, launched in September 2022 in the continuity of the HEC Imagine Fellows Scholarship Program, which enables talented students from war-torn regions to complete a master’s degree at HEC Paris. We met the four founders of HEC Imagine: Anna Grosz, Arthur Lamy, Nicolas Chatelais, and Bibi Behishta Nazir. Their profiles and academic paths at the intersection of international relations, economics, law, and philosophy, reflect the richness of our students. Their ambition to have a positive impact is a powerful illustration of our mission.
How is the welcoming of the first HEC Imagine students going?
The welcoming is going great, and our dedicated Welcome team is working very hard so that the Imagine students feel like at home. So far, we have already welcomed students from Afghanistan, Syria, and Ukraine, and they have really taught us a lot. Not only are their stories absolutely incredible, but they have really reminded us of fundamental but absolutely important values: humility, perseverance, and bravery.
We really think that prestigious schools such as HEC Paris have a major role to play in building peace around the world
Do you think your generation is receptive to the issue of peace?
From what we have experienced, youth is looking for strong values to stand for and is very aware of international issues in the current context of globalization and mass information. The war in Ukraine has been bringing peace issues to the forefront, and we are quite sure that they will meet a strong echo within our generation.
HEC imagine gathers now more than 40 HEC students on and off-Campus. How do business school students grasp international issues?
Most business schools’ students know that they will have an international impact through their job, and thus are very conscious of the strong link between business and geopolitics. This is especially true in HEC Paris, since besides being the number 1 Business school in Europe, HEC Paris is widely engaged in international relations, and incorporated this aspect in all of the courses proposed. Finally, as students follow a mandatory cursus in foreign countries and have numerous international students on the campus, all the conditions are met to make them aware of international issues and to form the strong educated leaders of tomorrow.
What actions can be taken on campus and beyond to make students aware of your cause?
Our whole team is currently doing its maximum to spread the word about our project on and off-Campus. We are currently organizing a big Peace conference in Paris on the 8th of February, bringing together students, alumni, and a variety of major global actors, both from the business and the humanitarian worlds. We are also publishing a newsletter every week around the issue of Business and Peace & we post regularly on social media.
HEC Paris is one of the very first universities in the world to offer such a revolutionary project, and we really believe that it will fundamentally change the current global international education system for the better.
Your motto is “Business for Peace”. Would you say that this is not the case today? Which ways could initiate these potential transformations?
Business is often seen as a vector for destabilization in war-torn countries. However, virtuous initiatives do exist, as the ones that are rewarded by the Norwegian Business for Peace award. We could foster this way of doing business by making entrepreneurs aware of those issues, and by funding and advertising promising start-ups. It is also with this idea in mind that we have started to work with various professors and academic staff on the elaboration of a new Master’s degree “Business for Peace” at HEC Paris.
You participated in the Paris Peace Forum, tell us about these talks and meetings.
The Paris Peace Forum was of a profound importance since it really allowed us to shape a powerful and ambitious vision for our project for the years to come. We had the opportunity to hear from many major thinkers such as Emmanuel Faber and Nadia Murad, and the rich discussions we had with many entrepreneurs really gave us faith in what we are building. Indeed, HEC Paris is one of the very first universities in the world to offer such a revolutionary project, and we really believe that it will fundamentally change the current global international education system for the better.
What motivated you to create the HEC Imagine association? Introduce us to the HEC Imagine founders.
We really think that prestigious schools such as HEC Paris have a major role to play in building peace around the world. This is precisely why we created HEC Imagine. We have very different profiles, but we are really united in our will to have a positive impact and to create something big and ambitious. Anna is deeply interested by international relations and considers diplomacy as a career choice. Arthur is also extremely interested by international relations and is very interested by law. Nicolas is passionate about Economics, Political Science, Philosophy, and has a deep understanding of our international world that is key to our work. Last but not least, Behishta is one of the Imagine Fellows from Afghanistan, and this makes her more than anyone else aware of peace issues.
We are really united in our will to have a positive impact and to create something big and ambitious
Do you have a key message to share to the HEC community & beyond?
Our key message is that Business has a major role to play in building peaceful relations between countries. We have the firm belief that HEC Paris can use its network, influence, and talents to promote international dialogue. It is thus with this idea in mind that we have started this incredible journey, and we really thank you very much for your support and for your belief in us!
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