The 2011/05/30 at 09:12
Bernard Ramanantsoa, Dean on the HEC School of Management, reviews the role of the school in a now competitive and global context.
Commerce International: What is your objective in this relocation to Qatar?
Bernard Ramanantsoa: “Let’s first make it clear: this is not, strictly speaking, a relocation. We are supporting the economic development of the region, and thus of our clients, company managers and directors. The Gulf is a region that is culturally and historically rich, whose economy is strategic for the rest of the world. Its economic growth is spectacular and the success of businesses located in the zone will be decisive for all. It is thus logical for HEC to be present there. Fully expanding companies need support and HEC has the capacity to offer personalised training worldwide.”
What impact does this implantation have in terms of image?
B.R.: “The Qatar Foundation invited HEC Paris to join Education City in order to contribute to the construction and development of the knowledge economy of Qatar, by offering continuing education programmes and research activities. HEC Paris is proud to be the first European institution and the first business school to join Education City in Qatar. It is important for the image of HEC Paris and its global-isation strategy to be present over-seas, and more specifically in this zone, and we are the envy of many European business schools.”
Why did Qatar select HEC?
B.R.: “The Qatar Foundation selected HEC after a very long procedure and several years of discussion. I believe that our global reputation and the repeated successes of our Executive Education (we have just been ranked world leader by The Financial Times) were decisive factors. We were also supported by Total. This company, present and very active in Qatar for over 70 years, is also a long-term partner of HEC Paris. It was thus logical that it support us in our globalisation strategy by playing a key role in this partnership.”
What opportunities are there for students? Is the targeted level the same as in Paris?
B.R.: “The programmes that we deliver in Qatar are, by priority, continuing education programmes aimed at Qatari company managers from large international groups such as GDF Suez, HSBC and Qatar Petroleum… One of the characteristics of this programme is to offer company managers the opportunity to become one of the participants in the various EMBA programmes of HEC and to join the 44,000 graduates of the HEC Group. But this also opens up opportunities to our students from other programmes. For example, 2 students from the MBA programme were selected to spend 3 months in Doha in order to gather information on businesses and banking institutions in Qatar, with the aim of writing up case studies. Students from the school taking part in the world’s most prestigious negotiation simulation in New York (at the UN) were selected this year to represent Qatar.”
What did you mean when you said that “students should breathe in HEC air like others breathe in Harvard air”?
B.R.: “What makes the strength of an institution like HEC, as in the world’s top business schools, is the tacit knowledge diffused there. The teaching of management goes far beyond the teaching of techniques. It is the discovery of a way of thought, confrontation with ideas from others coming from all over the world, that make up this ‘HEC air’.”
Can you confirm that higher education is still considered as a competitive yet fragile sector?
B.R.: “We live in a universe where competition grows daily, in particular for the recruitment of top students and professor-researchers worldwide. We now know how to draw the best professors, but we need to do what is necessary to keep them. We also need to make ourselves better known in large foreign companies, in the same way that we are already known in French companies, in order to place our future graduates there.”
Is the “relocation” of training a new trend as in industry?
B.R.: “Rather than speaking of relocation of training, it is better to talk of implantation in the form of an over-seas ‘hub’, as we have recently accomplished in Qatar for example. It is obvious that the market is now global and we need to be present internationally, whether within school programmes or MBAs with different partnerships and double degrees as already launched worldwide, as well as in continuing education.”
HEC is the number one business school according to The Financial Times. How do you explain this excellent ranking?
B.R.: “We are indeed considered as one of the European leaders, simply because we have the best teachers and best students, French or foreign. The international aspect is a very important criteria: every year, the school receives a total of more than 450 foreign students, and they even represent 85 % of the MBA programme. Our portfolio of alliances is also a major asset.”
Relationships with businesses are crucial, and we know of the emblematic partnership between the school and Total. Globally, what types of partnerships do you establish with businesses?
B.R.: “HEC Paris has a long tradition of partnership with businesses. Today the HEC Foundation has 55 business partners. Businesses commit strongly and on a long-term basis towards HEC’s development: financial support, support in discussions on HEC’s evolutions, businesses are also very active with students (presentations of their metiers, participation in recruitment forums) and are loyal recruiters. HEC Paris has a Visions of Leadership Centre and 15 research or lectureship chairs allowing businesses to commit further, towards pedagogy in particular.”
Their involvement is strategic, but can it be pedagogical?
B.R.: “Indeed, businesses are involved strategically but also pedagogically. This is translated by the intervention of experts and managers in classes within all group programmes, internship and mission offers, the possibility for students to work on case studies and pedagogical exercises on the concrete challenges of these businesses, the creation of chairs with research and pedagogical dimensions, the presence of businesses on our boards and on scientific committees in order to take into account the evolution of metiers and business needs. Finally, mention should also be made of our tight links with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Paris, allowing this significant collaboration with the world of enterprise.”