This week’s international news agenda has been dominated by the election of a new French President. Meanwhile, here in Qatar, the Hamad bin Khalifa University Convocation has also attracted huge interest. But it is not widely known that the two events have a common link. For President-elect Francois Hollande is an alumni of the prestigious HEC Paris international business school. And, on Tuesday, students at its Qatar-based branch (HEC Paris in Qatar) formed part of the Convocation 2012 graduate group.
373 students were honoured at the glittering Convocation ceremony, including 31 from HEC Paris in Qatar, the first ever graduates from its international Executive MBA (EMBA) programme. Addressing the gathering, Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development said, “I see in you the blossoming of new futures, which I have worked so long to establish through the providing of quality education. And as we have helped create new futures for you, it is now your responsibility to create new futures for the coming generations who follow in your pioneering footsteps.”
And, since its founding in 1881, HEC Paris has certainly pioneered the pursuit of excellence in various fields, including economics and business management. Its motto, ‘The More You Know, The More You Dare,’ has inspired generations of students, many of whom have gone on to manage multinational corporations.
“The motto encapsulates our philosophy and our objectives, that only through acquiring skills and the right vision can individuals make a difference,” said Joshua Kobb, Chief Operating Officer of HEC Paris in Qatar. “It’s not about taking risks, but about having the courage to approach problems in a different way, and ultimately instill change. And I think a lot of that is what we are asked to do from Qatar Foundation as a means to contribute to the Qatar National Vision 2030, and to help business leaders face challenges in new ways.”
HEC Paris is renowned as one of the world’s foremost educational institutes. Indeed, the UK’s Financial Times newspaper ranks it as the number one executive educational establishment in the world. Francois Hollande graduated from the school in 1975, before embarking on a political career that has now culminated in his election to France’s highest office.
Hollande’s success is a great source of inspiration to staff and students alike at HEC Paris in Qatar. “We are certainly proud of all our alumni, and having the President of France as one of our alumnus attests to the fact that we have many graduates who are capable of rising to prominent positions,” says Joshua. “In fact, more than a third of the CEOs in France’s largest publicly traded companies are graduates of HEC Paris.
“And in Qatar, it’s the same thing. We are addressing a group of people who are very influential within the local business community, and we are providing them with the skills, tools and vision necessary for success.”
One such graduate is Sami Al Shammari, Information Technology and Telecommunications Manager at Oryx GTL. He said, “The expertise that HEC Paris has managed to bring here to Qatar is the most unique thing because we cannot get this anywhere else, and the relationship that I built with my other colleagues will last for years. To be part of one of the top universities in Europe, this will give me an even stronger reputation in my current job.”
Sami admits that Francois Hollande’s ascent to the French presidency is a great motivation for him. He continued, “Hollande managed to apply the knowledge he learned at HEC Paris. He was clearly shining in his field and moved up quickly. And now, he’s moved up to the highest place, more than any other organisation in France.”
Hollande is arguably the most high-profile of all HEC Paris graduates in its long and illustrious history, and it is hoped that new leaders, inspired by his achievement, will emerge from this year’s HEC Paris in Qatar graduate group.
“We are very proud of our first class graduating, and to see them on stage,” said Joshua Kobb. “This is an important moment for us, to pass through the door of knowledge, and I know our graduates will be very well received in the business community.”