How Would Diversity In Class Room Help MBA Students?

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Admission Committees in business schools across the world take special pains to bring diversity to the MBA classrooms. How does it help students in the learning and career prospects?

Some of the participants in the 16-month full-time MBA program at HEC, Paris, drawn from a wide range of educational and professional background have revealed the reasons for enrolling in the program, their experiences in the class and expectations.

Mamoudou Bocoum (Class 2018), a civil engineer in Chad, Africa, was working on a sustainable hydro-agricultural project predicted to improve the lives of 115,000 people. On detecting an overspending issue, he headed a team that not only redesigned the project to reduce the cost but also designed a more efficient irrigation system.

However, the project was later abandoned due to a lack of funding. It was then he decided to pursue the MBA as instead of just being involved only during the implementation phase of infrastructure-development projects, he wanted to be among the decision makers.

“Being a part a team, interacting and persuading each other – that is the most important part of what I am learning here at HEC. Leading people who have an opinion—maybe a different opinion that is as valid as yours—that is where I’m being challenged today,”

He said he joined HEC as its focus on sustainable development and social business matched his career goals. “That and its entrepreneurial mindset were things that I didn’t find in other MBA programs. Another reason I chose HEC was the length of the program. Coming from an engineering background, I knew I would have a lot to learn on the business front, and 16 months seemed to be a good fit,” he added.

At HEC, he became the president of the Africa Club organising a number of conferences and boot camps and put together several networking events in Paris with people who have connections to Africa.

He was also part of a team at the annual Thought for Food Challenge, a competition searching for answers about how to feed the 9 billion people who will be on this planet in 2050. “Our idea, Agri Yolo, was a platform designed to promote investments in sustainable agriculture by connecting agribusinesses, landowners and young investors to launch new projects. We made it to the top 10 out of over 500 entries and went to the finals in Amsterdam. I am currently working on taking the idea further and exploring if we can make it a viable entrepreneurial business project in Africa,” he said.

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“Even though they served only two or three different egg dishes, it was really popular. I went there with my best friend and we waited over a 1/2-hour to be served. The customers were mostly men around 18-25 years old. For instance, my friend’s girlfriend wouldn’t go there – women didn’t feel it was the cleanest place to eat. That’s when I sensed a need. Why not create an egg speciality restaurant that caters to everyone?”

Two partners and seven years later, Varad’s restaurant Yolkshire has grown into a three-location franchise in India. Now he dreams of making it into an international chain to rival McDonalds.

“I can try something new in my company today, and if it doesn’t work, I can always go back to what we were doing before,” he says. “That’s very easy. But I want to expand – imagine that I’m running a thousand outlets. I can’t take risks in the same way I’ve been doing – I have to look at marketing; I have to look at strategy and all the other things that come with it. That is perspective which I will gain only by coming to a school like HEC Paris,” he said.

“Being a part a team, interacting and persuading each other – that is the most important part of what I am learning here at HEC. Leading people who have an opinion—maybe a different opinion that is as valid as yours—that is where I’m being challenged today,” he added.

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