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Lunchtime Links: Is HEC Paris really Europe’s best business school?

HEC Paris

The Financial Times issued its ranking of European business schools this week.

Based on the ‘quality and quantity’ of its MBA courses, HEC in Paris came top.

If you want to get into investment banking, HEC has several things going for it.

Firstly, plenty of high-powered French bankers have been there. Financial News’s list of rising stars under 40 includes two: Emmanuel Hibou, co-head of media and telecoms investment banking for Emea, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and Vincent Laurencin, head of research, Exane BNP Paribas.

Secondly, the fees – at €48k (£41k) are quite modest compared to the likes of London Business School (£54k) or INSEAD (€56k.)

Thirdly, 18% of HEC MBA graduates went into financial services jobs last year.

Fourthly, an HEC MBA will probably do a good job of increasing your salary: the average HEC MBA had achieved a 106% increase on pre-MBA salary three years’ after graduation.

On the other hand, however, HEC MBAs tend to earn a lot less three years after leaving than graduates of INSEAD of LBS. We also suspect that they are mostly recruited by French banks: US banks don’t generally cite HEC as a target school, but we may be wrong.

The FT’s MBA ranking:

  1. HEC: Average salary three years’ after graduation: $123k, a 106% increase
  2. INSEAD: Average salary three years’ after graduation: $148k, a 108% increase
  3. LBS: Average salary three years’ after graduation: $146k, a 132% increase
  4. IESE: Average salary three years’ after graduation: $132k, a 138% increase
  5. IMD: Average salary three years’ after graduation: $146k, an 89% increase

The Treasury wants the 15 biggest UK-based banks – excluding those from elsewhere in the European Union – to publish pay details for their top eight executives below board level. (Telegraph)

The Treasury says the plan is to elicit this pay information in respect of the banks’ financial performance this year (and every year). (BBC)

Numis made operating profits of £1.8m this year, up from a loss of £474,000 in 2010. (Financial News) 

Numis’ 181 staff earned an average of £161k this year. (Evening Standard)

There are likely to be “several hundred” job cuts at Citigroup across the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, a person familiar with the matter said. (CityAm)

New Star allegedly declared people had mental health issues in order to dismiss them. (Telegraph)

Paul Tudor Jones has had trouble sleeping because of the social problems in the US. (AbsoluteReturnAlpha)

Investment banker sends 1,615 word email rebuking female for failure to go on a second date. (Observer) 

Comments (4)

  1. Sarah,

    This ranking does not rank MBA programmes, but schools according to their program portfolios.

    While HEC Paris’ MBA is good, it is a league under those of INSEAD and LBS, nobody denies that. It is not a prime target of recruiters either, even among French banks.

    However, the Grande école (or “elite school”) programme, known as the MSc. in Management to foreigners, is another story. It is the school’s flagship and historical curriculum and one of France’s most prestigious degree, along with a handful of other Engineering and Business Grande écoles. It is equivalent to going to college at Oxbridge in the UK and, as such, is a target programme of banks, including all the big US ones, which are among the top recruiters (at HEC, GS is second, after McKinsey).

    Why is the programme so renowned within French borders? Because of its national competitive entrance exam for which French-speaking students study for two years after high school.

    To give you a self-telling anecdote reported by a French magazine, some French MBA graduates from HEC Paris tend to “forget” the MBA part in order to implicitly pose as Grande école graduates. It is also common for people who rank well in the entrance exam, but not enough to get into top schools (HEC for instance), to go to college at LSE, Imperial or McGill in Canada instead of re-taking the exam.

    If you want to know more about the strange French Grande école system, wikipedia is your friend: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grande_%C3%A9cole

  2. Obviously you are not as well informed as you think you are on the HEC Paris MBA. It has consistently ranked amongst the best in Europe and Worldwide. Whilst LBS and INSEAD are excellent programs, HEC Paris is not a league under, but on the contrary it is as competitive.

    While you have based your arguments on theories and scoops, I am going to inform you on facts about the HEC Paris MBA program and evidence of its excellence.

    1) As a Business School HEC Paris is ranked 2nd in the European Business School ranking of 2012 provided by the Financial Times just ahead of London Business School and INSEAD.

    2) HEC Paris received excellent worldwide rankings on all its programs such as the Master in Management “Grande Ecole” ranked #1 Financial Times 2013 (MIM not MSC as you pointed out), Master in International Finance #1 FT and Excecutive Education #1 top 50 schools FT 2013 and #3 EMBA FT 2012.
    Now I am not sure about you, but I believe 45000 alumni from worldwide top ranked programs would help the MBA alumni in any case, wouldn’t you say so? This brings us to the following 2013 ranking: The Economist #1 MBA in the world for networking opportunities (2013).
    Whilst the Masters in Business Administration – MBA – program is ranked #21 on the FT headed by INSEAD and LBS and #8 Forbes international MBA 2013 headed by LBS, it is ranked #8 on The Economist 2013 ahead of INSEAD and LBS.

    3) On a European Level, the 2013 full time MBA rankings go like this:
    Financial times : LBS #1, INSEAD #2 and HEC Paris #7
    The Economist : HEC Paris #2, London Business School #3 and INSEAD #7
    Forbes : INSEAD #2, LBS #4 and HEC Paris #15

    4) Now you said and I quote: “While HEC Paris’ MBA is good, it is a league under those of INSEAD and LBS, nobody denies that. It is not a prime target of recruiters either, even among French banks.” Well, with no evidence, statistics or facts for your basis… No comment. Here are some statistics from various ranking websites: Employment MBA’s 3 months after graduation: LBS 96%, INSEAD 96% and HEC Paris 90%.

    Given the above, I am sorry but I just can’t seem to find that league of difference that you inclined…

    NB: No, I am neither a student nor employed at HEC Paris. I am looking to apply to business schools and I came across your comment which really didn’t seem right.

  3. I had my reservations about HEC Paris mainly due to the FT rankings but after recently visiting HEC and having already visited LBS and INSEAD, I can tell you I was really impressed by the program.

    I got to speak with students from all of the above mentioned programs and I concluded the following: a) The “caliber” of the MBA students in all three institutions is quite similar, with the main difference being that HEC students were more down to earth. b) The MBA building and campus of HEC is superior to that of LBS and INSEAD (which are quite old while HEC Paris has a brand new one), c) LBS and INSEAD have much larger intakes which in absolute numbers makes it seem like it is harder to get into awesome companies through HEC but in relative terms there might be a only handful of students from each HEC Paris MBA intake targeting a particular company. Thus, if only 4 HEC MBA students apply to Goldman Sachs and 1 or 2 get offers it might seem that it is hard to get in Goldman Sachs from HEC but in reality there is, for this example, a 25-50% success rate which is extremely competitive compared to any top program, if you add to that that companies usually have quotas per school to allow for diversity in their recruitment, HEC never reaches its quota and thus you have no internal competition from your school which makes collaboration between HEC students very strong and improves your chances.

    It is true that elite companies mostly visit for the Grande Ecole program but this has nothing to do with the quality of the MBA program compared to the Grande Ecole and only has to do with the small MBA class size. In the Goldman Sachs example I mentioned earlier, why would Goldman send their Associate level recruiting team (which is different than the Analyst level one) to do first round interviews on campus if the most they can hope for is a couple of recruits? Of course, this does not mean that when an HEC Paris MBA student contacts them, they would think less of him or her compared to an LBS student. Another thing that was explained to me is that HEC focuses on the quality of the candidates and does not take into account if they are going to be successfully placed according to their particular goals when making their admission decision. This means that if you focus your applications to lets say the US without having a US passport or a green card and at a company that does not sponsor people you will be unsuccessful and this hurts HEC statistics. INSEAD on the other hand would probably deny your application if you don’t match their “easy hiring” profile. So what does this mean? I think it means that as an individual these statistics mean nothing. The fact that most other students in LBS have the “right” profiles does not say anything about your own chances if you do not decide to apply to the “right” place for your profile. HEC gives you the liberty to decide for yourself and during your studies they try their best to guide you towards the right direction. This also means that if you are a strong candidate, you have very good chances of being admitted as you won’t be rejected due to your future goals and won’t have to lie about this during your application.

    Definitely LBS and INSEAD have great programs and will be definitely be applying to LBS but my top choice is going to be HEC Paris. I won’t be applying to INSEAD due to its very short program. HEC Paris is 16 months and allows participants to do a lot more interesting things compared to a 10 month program. LBS on the other hand is too expensive for what it offers, especially when HEC Paris can get you the same job for half the investment (I was told that because HEC is partially state-funded it is easy for strong candidates to receive scholarships that cover a big chunk of the 48K fees (up to 50% of the fees!). Since MBAs should base their decision making on numbers, I am going for the best NPV for my MBA investment: HEC Paris.

  4. I am about to start an MBA at HEC, and my thoughts about the school are somewhere in between the first and the final comment.

    You need to take these rankings with a pinch of Salt. HEC’s MBA is definitely a great program. But not yet in the league of INSEAD and LBS. Please note, that I added ‘not yet’. Thats because, I see it in that top league in a few years time.

    Personally, one of the major aspects why I rank HEC behind LBS and INSEAD is due to its average salary, which is much lower than that of other business schools. In most other aspects – professors, academics, and extra curricular – I would rate it as high as INSEAD and LBS. In fact, for extra curricular activites, due to MBAT, I would rate it higher that INSEAD and LBS.
    Remember, for an MBA, the extra curricular are as important as the academics as they allow you to build networks.
    As for students, the ones I met at INSEAD and LBS were fairly brilliant. The ones at HEC seem to be good as well, though I can only comment on it once I have been to HEC.

    So, right now, HEC is just below INSEAD and LBS, in the league of IE, IESE, IMD, Oxford and Cambridge. I would rate HEC MBA the third best in Europe, after LBS and INSEAD. Lets hope we can take it that one step further into that top league, and top 10 mba programs in the world.

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