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Society & Organizations Institute

The "Purpose and Sustainability" track at Chamonix

From August 21 to 24, all the new students from the Master in Management were in Chamonix for the "Purpose and Sustainability" seminar. The objective? To enable them to understand the challenges of the ecological and social transition, and to question the purpose of their mission and collective action. Here is a multimedia wrap-up of this innovative course, organized by the S&O Institute.

mozaic photo chamonix 2022 - media

"Who went to Chamonix?" That was the question Emmanuel Faber asked HEC students at the big back-to-school conference. All of them raised their hands in the huge hall of honor gathering more than 1,000 people. Indeed, this is the 4th year that all first-year students are welcomed in Chamonix for 4 days of seminars, before even sitting on the HEC benches. 


"The students come out of difficult, studious years of preparatory classes, and we wanted this seminar to be both a breath of fresh air and a way to open up their horizons." Julie Thinès, Academic Director of the Grande Ecole Programs.. 



The transition between preparatory school and HEC, from a time when you learn a lot to a time when you try to orient yourself and find a meaning [...] this is the added value that HEC brings with Chamonix." Pierre-Marin, HEC student..


In the form of an itinerary through the valley, up to the glacier of the Mont Blanc massif, meeting experts (glaciologist, geo-morphologist) and outstanding people (high mountain guides, mountaineers and world-renowned sportsmen and women), the students become more aware of the major environmental challenges by touching the consequences of global warming. 


They also learn to know themselves and others better in exceptional situations – e.g., mountain rescue simulations, climbing. Meeting deeply committed professionals – e.g., doctors and rescuers, majors of the Groupe Militaire de Haute Montagne – makes them question the meaning of their personal and collective mission: what kind of citizen, colleague, leader do I want to be? To what kind of society and economy do I want to contribute tomorrow? What makes a group's action meaningful and successful?


"The most powerful moment: when we were in front of the Mer de Glace. We realize that it will also be up to us, when we are later in business (...), to ensure that respect for the environment is guaranteed and to work to accelerate this ecological transition (...)." Terence, HEC student.




This unforgettable learning expedition is the starting point for a deeper reflection on the meaning of work and the purpose of business. In this program, students are invited to reflect on this general question: "What are the conditions to give or reveal meaning in collective action? At my level, with others, and within society." Then, they write a research paper based on observations and interviews, to delve into topics such as ambition, managing crises and uncertainty, the search for meaning and radicality, vulnerability and authenticity of the leader...



"Where they find their joy, they will find a better capacity to act, and generate a better impact for the people around them and for the world.” Romain Briat, Executive Director of the Purpose Center. 


Students will surely experience the contradictions and limitations inherent in any business environment during their professional life. The "Purpose & Sustainability" track aims to encourage them to go inside (introspection) and outside (inspiration), to find their "raison d'être" and to get closer to their fundamental values and aspirations.


Know more about the pedagogy of the Purpose Center