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HEC Paris certificates in the COVID-19 Era

Like all educational institutions around the world, HEC Paris has been facing the health crisis linked to the COVID-19 epidemic since March. The entire HEC Paris community has had to adapt to this unprecedented situation, demonstrating its capacity for resilience and innovation. A concrete example: the eight certificates proposed each May to HEC Paris' students, in close collaboration with its corporate partners.

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"(We) constantly keep in mind the well-being and health of our students, as well as our responsibility to keep classes up and running while maintaining our standards of excellence." In a message to the school's alumni, the Dean of HEC Paris, Peter Todd, thus recalled at the end of March, the principles that have guided the actions of the school and its professors since the beginning of the health crisis. A position that one could summarize as follows: whatever challenges posed by a situation, HEC Paris keeps its commitments to its community. The organization of the certificates, during the month of May 2020, was an opportunity to confront these commitments with a more than complex reality.

The certificates are interdisciplinary modules, totaling around 100 hours of classes/tutorials, delivered in English over a six-week period. An integral part of the curriculum for students in the MSc programs at HEC Paris, they are also accessible to students in the Grande Ecole program, the MBA program and Executive MBA participants. Backed by a Chair, the certificates are based on a pedagogical approach inspired by “learning by doing” to develop students' leadership qualities, open up new horizons and provide them with both practical experience and professional opportunities. The originality of the certificates also lies, above all, in the partnership with companies: most certificates are sponsored by one or more companies, bringing their on-the-ground experience to complement the pedagogy deployed by HEC Paris (visits, practical cases, interventions by professionals, etc.).

In the particular circumstances of spring 2020, this key moment in the academic year presented even greater challenges than in previous years. Faced with the health crisis, it was decided to fully digitize the teaching offer, rethink alongside the professors the processes and methods that had been disrupted by this complete online transformation, and guarantee the continuity of the partnerships established with companies that were fully mobilized for the success of these programs. The academic directors of some of these certificates have agreed to share with us their adaptation to this unprecedented experience:



Marc Vermeulen, Associate Professor at HEC ParisMergers & Acquisitions Certificate - in partnership with CACIB 

"The M&A Certificate has been the subject of extremely strong demand from students this year. Thanks to the responsiveness of the school, the flexibility and commitment of the entire teaching staff, and the very active support of our new partner, Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Banking, the Certificate was able to take place in an extremely satisfactory manner despite the particular context. 

The entire M&A curriculum could be rolled out digitally, external participants all confirmed their participation, and, this year, innovations were introduced with marked success, such as the new "M&A Game", which placed students in a negotiation situation in a company takeover." 

Marc Vermeulen, Associate Professor at HEC Paris, Academic Director of the M&A Certificate, Executive Director of the CACIB Corporate Initiative in M&A

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Bénédicte Faivre-Tavignot, Associate Professor at HEC ParisInclusive & Social Business Certificate - in partnership with Danone, Schneider Electric, Renault and Veolia 

"The 12th edition of HEC Inclusive & Social Business Certificate was a very special course at a very special time! Despite the lockdown constraints, we managed to organize the online sessions and provide active experiential learning to our students by asking them to design a “social business” project that addresses the COVID-19 crisis. The 48 students worked in small groups of 2 to 4 on a wide variety of topics such as: the situation of the homeless during and after COVID-19; telemedicine for low income populations in Brazil; Access to fresh goods during lockdown in Quezon City, Philippines; Tourism for Good: travel that leaves a lasting positive impact; etc

Students also had the chance to interact with our honorary president, Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize 2006, Founder of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, and Charlie Vincent, Founder of Emmaüs Défi and Lulu dans ma Rue. Both addressed students with a wonderful message of hope and positive energy, giving them the faith to open new ways of combining and reconciling in concrete ways a search for meaning and social impact through business activity.”

Bénédicte Faivre-Tavignot, Associate Professor at HEC Paris, Academic Director of the Inclusive & Social Business Certificate, Executive Director of the Society & Organizations Institute


© HEC Paris - Inclusive & Social Business Certificate - Bénédicte Faivre-Tavignot



Jean-Michel Gauthier, Professor at HEC ParisEnergy & Finance Certificate - in partnership with Société Générale

“The twelfth edition of the Energy & Finance Certificate sponsored by Société Générale - an internationally recognized flagship program of HEC Paris on the Energy Transition - was successfully delivered 100% online this year thanks to the dedication of up to 20 Société Générale senior bankers and professionals, as well as HEC Paris faculty and management.

Against the tragic background of the coronavirus pandemic, more than 60 students from across the world were able to work on how a vast number of companies may or may not meet the 2050 carbon neutrality objective, including ArcelorMittal, BASF, Eramet, LafargeHolcim, Rio Tinto, Schlumberger, Total, or Unilever!”

Jean-Michel Gauthier, Professor at HEC Paris, Executive Director of the Energy & Finance Chair

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Patrick Albaladejo, Affiliate Professor at HEC ParisLuxury Certificate – in partnership with Kering 

“Thanks to an incredible commitment from Kering, the students, the guest speakers and the professors, the 2020 edition of the certificate has been delivered in full and with the level of quality that is the benchmark at HEC Paris.

The level of student attendance and their contribution to the final Balenciaga project was evidence of their commitment to the program. We are all happy to have overcome the barriers together and are proud of the substantial support received from the school.”

Patrick Albaladejo, Affiliate Professor at HEC Paris, Executive Director of the Kering Chair in Luxury

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