From the Youth Leadership Initiative to the Master In Management – an inspiring journey of self-discovery
With mixed Irish and Japanese parentage, and educated in France, Eilis Connolly-Shinozuka is a true citizen of the world. At the end of her high school studies in 2018 she found herself at a crossroads. Her gut instinct told her to continue her education abroad, but her teachers were actively encouraging her to take the French preparatory exams and pursue her studies at a renowned Business School such as HEC Paris.
It was at this moment that she discovered the Youth Leadership Initiative at HEC Paris. This intensive one-week residential program would not only enable her to develop her leadership skills and explore her passion for global affairs, but to also get a bite-sized preview of the HEC Paris experience and what it would be like to live and study on campus.
THE IMPACT OF THE YOUTH INITIATIVE PROGRAM
One of the things that Eilis loved the most about the program was the incredible cultural and international diversity of her fellow students, coming from so many different backgrounds and with such diverse skill sets. Everyone really brought something unique to the program. Working on projects with the other students and learning with and from them made her first HEC Paris experience both an enriching and a truly international one.
The learning methods and teaching approach were also a revelation and a sharp contrast to the ones she was used to in the more traditional French Education system:
“The professors in the program were incredible - they were all very competent in their own fields, particularly interesting to listen to but also truly kind and attentive. They made the program highly personalized to ensure that you got the most out of this experience and came out of it a little wiser, more self-aware and having found your own brand of leadership.”
PREPARATORY CLASSES AND BEYOND
Eilis is convinced that programs like the Youth Leadership Initiative really do shape you, sometimes in unexpected ways, and give you a clearer idea of the path you want to follow. Getting a foretaste of life on campus and the quality of the classes, cemented her desire to study at HEC Paris.
As a student who had completed her entire schooling in France, Eilis knew that the classic route of access to a Grande Ecole was via a preparatory school (Prépa). The Youth Leadership Initiative gave her the soft skills, the motivation and the confidence to reconsider this option. Even though she found the prospect of dedicating two years to intensive study and highly competitive exams somewhat daunting, she decided that the preparatory classes route was the one that she wanted to follow - and she excelled.
Eilis successfully completed both the preparatory classes and entrance exams to gain a place on the HEC Paris Master in Management in 2021.
MASTER IN MANAGEMENT – THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
For Eilis, the value of this achievement lay not only in gaining admission to HEC Paris but also in finding her purpose, and a clear path forward. The particular appeal of the Master in Management was the wide range of courses on offer, the generalist approach to management and the possibility to tailor the program to her specific aspirations.
By taking advantage of the numerous exchange programs offered by HEC Paris, she could not only pursue her education in France, but also realize her ambition of studying abroad. In the second semester of her first year at HEC Paris, Eilis embarked on a global learning adventure by participating in an exchange program with Keio University in Japan. It was an enriching and eye-opening experience that more than lived up to her expectations of studying abroad.
Eilis Connolly-Shinozuka's story is one of determination, cultural awareness, and the pursuit of academic excellence. Her journey from the Youth Leadership Initiative to preparatory classes and, finally, to the Master in Management program at HEC Paris is a testament to her unwavering commitment to her educational and career goals. Today, she acknowledges the pivotal role the Youth Leadership Initiative played in helping her find her path and is grateful to Elyse and Jessica* for their coaching and mentorship during the program.
Eilis serves as an inspiration to all those who aspire to transcend borders and embrace multi-faceted learning experiences. As such, she was invited to join this summer’s cohort of Youth Leaders as an inspirational ‘Endnote Speaker’ to close the final session of the program. Her words will serve as inspiration for the next generation of leaders as they seek to find their path, identify their strengths and lay the foundations to become reflective and impactful leaders.
*Elyse Michaels-Berger and Jessica Honan co-founded the Youth Leadership Initiative in 2018. Each summer they direct, coach and instruct in the program which welcomes talented, motivated high school students from around the world for this intense 5-day residential leadership experience on the HEC Paris campus.