When it comes to MBA in Europe, HEC Paris is one of the most reputed brands out there. With an 18% acceptance rate and more than 90% of the MBA class hailing from abroad, HEC Paris MBA is one of the top 10 MBA programs in the world. Additionally, it’s one of the best MBA programs if you want to leverage MBA for career change. In this post, Aniket Agrawal shares his journey, his experiences and struggles, and how he received an admit to one of his dream programs – the HEC Paris MBA.
Few Facts about HEC Paris MBA
HEC Paris is a business school that is renowned for its deep expertise in luxury brand management and marketing. Top companies hiring HEC Paris MBA graduates included McKinsey & Company, Amazon, Bain & Company, Schneider Electric, Uber, and L’Oreal. HEC Paris MBA Grads also landed jobs at AstraZeneca, GE Healthcare, Deliveroo, and Google.
Another interesting fact is that the MBA at HEC Paris is the best if you want to change the sector in which you’re working. For the class of 2021, HEC Paris MBA placed 82% of graduates into a different sector than they were working in before business school.
HEC Paris MBA Class Profile
For the HEC Paris MBA Class of 2022, the b-school received around 2,700 applications and made offers to 18.9% of applicants. Currently, it’s more selective than Chicago Booth, MIT Sloan, and the London Business School. Overall, the class features 295 students in the fall intake, who bring a 690 average GMAT to the school. Read more about the HEC Paris MBA Class Profile of 2022.
In this post, we speak with Aniket Agrawal, one of the incoming students at HEC Paris (he will start in Jan 2022). Aniket is not new to a career change. After completing B.Tech in Metallurgical Engineering from IIT-BHU, Aniket moved into Data Analytics.
The MBA stint at HEC Paris is going to be another catalyst for his second career change. So, let’s find out more about Aniket’s HEC Paris MBA admission journey.
HEC Paris MBA Admission Journey
Q&A with Aniket Agrawal
Pre-MBA Career: Getting into Data Analytics as a Non-IT/CS Graduate
Tanmoy: What made you get into Analytics after your B.Tech. (in Metallurgy)?
Aniket: I had carried out two internships during my undergrad – one at JSPL plant and another at DMRL defence labs. Both organizations and internships were starkly different. While one gave me a sneak peek into the field jobs, the other showed the potential of research in my domain.
However, I did not enjoy either. Therefore, I started scoping out other options during my final year in undergrad, and business consulting and analytics were something I was able to relate with and eventually, got into it at ZS Associates in my first job.
Tanmoy: What would be your advice for Non-CS/IT folks who wish to get into data analytics job roles after Bachelors?
Aniket: While knowing the tools and techniques that are currently highly used and are in demand definitely helps you stand out. I will recommend that you should try to understand the reason behind your motivation of moving into data analytics.
- To be a good analyst you should absolutely love problem solving and logical thinking, otherwise, you are setting yourself up to wrong expectations.
- Once you have decided to get into data analytics, learn a couple of tools, not more than two, and different analysis techniques which are readily available online.
- The next step is practice. Practice as much as you can. Apply your knowledge and ideas to different questions and challenges that are posted online, for e.g., on Kaggle.
- Try to solve the challenges posted there and refine your skills. If you can follow it diligently, it is more than enough to land you a job in data analytics.
Tanmoy: When did you think about considering a full-time MBA abroad?
Aniket: In the last 7 years of my professional career, I had been fortunate enough to accumulate a varied set of experiences. However, I wanted to build something from the ground up within the energy and education sector.
In order to make this transition, I needed basic theoretical business knowledge, along with perspectives and exposure that can only be obtained when I move out of my comfort zone.
Therefore, I started exploring MBA courses abroad, with a highly interactive and diverse peer group, and a wide industry network.
Europe and HEC Paris was a natural fit for me given my preference and I will be starting my course in January 2022.
Tanmoy: Did you ever think about MS Business Analytics or any other Business Masters? What would be your advice on how to choose between MBA and Business Masters?
Aniket: Honestly, I never considered MS in Business Analytics or other business masters. The reason is pretty straightforward – they don’t fit with my aspiration and what I hope to achieve through my master’s program.
In my opinion, instead of moving towards whatever is trending, I calmly analyze my aim and thus, requirements from the program.
While MS Business Analytics is a great course, I have been working in the same domain for 7 years. It does not add much value to my profile. And since I have entrepreneurial goals post my master’s, MBA became an easy choice.
I would strongly advise others to do a similar analysis. Explore for different master’s options available and analyze what makes the most sense for you, as per your profile and goals. This will help you understand your need for higher studies and make it easier for you to select the best possible course.
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GMAT Prep & MBA Application Journey
Tanmoy: How did you get started with your MBA application journey?
Could you please tell our readers about your GMAT/GRE prep and b-school research process?
Aniket: Like many others, I had been thinking about pursuing MBA for a while.
Around that time, one of my good friends and senior from my alma mater, Piyush Ranjan, had just started an admissions consulting firm for MBA – Management Masters.
I contacted him to understand more about the MBA applications and guide me through the process. We quickly moved to action on major requirements for pursuing MBA – taking GMAT/GRE, researching and shortlisting b-schools, introspecting, and filling out the application.
I purchased the official guide from GMAC, took additional mock tests to prepare for GMAT, and dedicated a month and half to prepare for the test.
Simultaneously, I also started reading more on b-schools following the Financial Times’ list, about their curriculum, student clubs & activities, values, and more.
The effort required was much more than I initially imagined, but it bore fruit when I moved to the essay writing phase. I was easily able to shortlist schools that fit my need, which eventually helped in both MBA application and MBA interview.
Tanmoy: Could you please share tips on how to ask current students and alumni to gain more insights on target B-Schools?
Aniket: The best way I found to network with current students and/or alumni of target b-school is to drop a note on LinkedIn. Almost everyone from b-schools is a LinkedIn user, and they are generally more than happy to provide their assistance.
However, I would advise you to carry out your own research first, be precise and polite when asking for help.
Never waste their and your time by asking questions that can be answered with a simple Google search.
Finally, do not lose hope if you do not get a reply immediately, keep trying.
Tanmoy: How to approach the referees/recommenders to secure personalized LoRs?
Aniket: When asking for an LoR, always reach out to someone whom you personally know, regardless of their designation. A personalized LoR has a much higher weightage and value add to your application than a general LoR from someone higher up in the hierarchy.
Give your potential recommender a brief context of what you are aiming for, which schools you are targeting, and remind them of your shared professional experience.
It helps your recommender to understand your background, refreshes their memory on working with you, and reduces their effort when writing the LoR, thereby, ensuring a strong and personalized recommendation.
Tanmoy: How do you tackle the MBA essays? Any specific tips?
Aniket: The MBA essays are essentially tools for b-schools to gain an understanding of you, your personality, experiences, and gauge your potential.
The best approach is to be authentic. I cannot stress this enough, but never try to fabricate or modify anything in your essay from who you are original.
The AdComs evaluating your profile have read through thousands of essays and can easily identify when someone is faking.
In my essays, I had simply tried to succinctly answer the essay question and express my opinions and rationale behind it. Additionally, I wrote it in my own words without trying to make it sound sophisticated or a literary work.
Tanmoy: Why did you opt for Europe over the USA and what made you apply to HEC Paris?
Aniket: Europe was an easy choice for me due to two major reasons – duration and fees of the course. At my professional stage, I do not feel the need for a structured 2-year course with a mandatory internship.
Additionally, the course fees and living expenses are far lower in Europe as compared to the USA.
HEC Paris boasts highest class diversity and is one the most prestigious and recognized university across the Europe. Their MBA program ranks in top 10 across the world in FT MBA rankings.
Moreover, HEC Paris has a limited class size, taking only ~100-150 students in each batch, which makes it a highly interactive program.
Read more about Aniket’s HEC Paris MBA admit journey.
Post-MBA Plans and MBA/MiM Admissions Consulting
Tanmoy: What are post-MBA career plans?
Aniket: Post-MBA, I plan to join a management consulting firm, working preferably within the energy, education, or infrastructure domain in Europe or the APAC region.
This will help me consolidate the knowledge from b-school, gain a better understanding of the domain, and create industry networks. which will help me move towards my goal. I hope to work in this sector for a while before taking the entrepreneurial plunge.
Tanmoy: What attracted you to career counselling & MBA admissions consulting?
Aniket: Ever since my stint with a startup, I have always been interested in working within the education domain in one form or other.
When I approached Piyush for helping me with my MBA applications, Management Masters had just started. Given the initial stages of the firm, I inadvertently and fortunately got involved in many discussions around the firm and how to move forward. Knowing each other for over 10 years certainly helped, as we had complete faith.
That, I would say, was my entry point in career counseling and MBA admissions consulting. Being able to interact with aspirants belonging to the diverse backgrounds and help them successfully get an admission from their dream schools came with a surprising amount of job satisfaction. I got more interested and increasingly invested with time, to the point where I am completely involved now.
Tanmoy: How would you describe your process of admissions consulting?
Aniket: I follow a very structured process, focusing on 5 major profile areas of candidates, where I try to bring out their best.
The process is divided into two parts: a) self-discovery where I try to identify key personal and professional strengths and unique aspects about the candidate, consisting of 4 workshops, and b) objective results where I focus on the objective results which are usually expected from the consultants like best-fit b-schools, optimizing resume, essay reviews, etc.
I believe in candid conversations and, therefore, have never limited the number of interactions with candidates. The only ask from a candidate is to take the feedback positively and own up to the task.
Tanmoy: There are many MBA admissions consultants in India right now. How should candidates approach and find/select the right consultant for themselves?
Aniket: While no one can guarantee admission to any b-school, having the right consultant certainly increases the chances by many folds. Therefore, finding the best consultant for an aspirant becomes all the more important.
The best way to do that is to talk to consultants themselves and evaluate how was the “feel” during your conversation.
Were you comfortable talking with him/her? How well and honestly according to you were they able to respond to your questions? And how was the overall tone of the call?
Furthermore, research about their consulting process, service offerings and success stories. If you still find yourself being unsure, try and connect with candidates who have worked with the consultant in the past.
I know that is not always possible, but it never hurts to try. Platforms like Stoodnt make it easier by displaying ratings and feedback of every consultant on their page.