Hult Challenge: Creating a Social Entreprise

By Claudia Pumarejo, Global MBA 2013-2014, Mexico

“Access to health care should be a right, not a privilege.” – Bill Clinton

L-R: Richard Huynh, Naoki Kitabayashi
Ingrid Cazalis, Claudia Pumarejo
A Social Enterprise combines the tools used by governments, NGOs and the private sector to maximize human and environmental well-being, rather than maximizing profits for external shareholders. It is a way business-minded people – looking to create value – can put their skills and knowledge to the service of humanity.

The Hult Prize is a start-up accelerator for social entrepreneurship that originated at Hult International Business School. One of its students, Ahmad Ashkar, thought of “crowd-sourcing brilliant solutions for how to change the world from college and university students around the world”. The first Hult Prize challenge, gathering teams from business schools to take up the challenge of the global education crisis, took place in 2010.

It has been a long time since the French “Déclaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen.” Nevertheless, these natural rights declared in 1789, such as equality and freedom, have not been achieved in every country in the world. Moreover, as the society has evolved and new human rights have emerged, some have been left behind. In 1979, Czech jurist Karel Vasak discussed a “third generation of human rights,” including the rights of economic and social development, communication, healthy environment and natural resources.

The Clinton Global Initiative is one of Hult International Business School’s partners in the challenge. As former US president Bill Clinton recalls: “Over the past four years, the Hult Prize has brought together some of the brightest young innovators to address the obstacles that prevent prosperity and opportunity from thriving worldwide. From increasing access to technology and clean water to tackling poverty and food security on a global level, past competitions have yielded tremendous ideas that support business and social enterprise while serving the greater good”. They are doing their part.

This year, the challenge will be “Improving Chronic Disease Care in Slums.” ESSEC, a business school deeply concerned with world issues and developing nations, will be represented by two teams at this year’s Hult Prize; our team going to Shanghai and our classmates going to Dubai for the Regional Finals. The teams selected in these and other locations (such as Boston, San Francisco, London and Sao Paulo) will then go to New York City for the big final, where the winning team will received USD 1 million in funding to bring their Social Enterprise to life.

Entrepreneurship at ESSEC: Starting a company as an MBA student

By Ingrid Cazalis, Global MBA 2013-2014, France

As Steve Jobs said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do, but if you haven’t found it yet, keep looking and don’t settle. As with matters of the heart, you will know when you will find it.” I think I’ve followed this advice pretty well, having moved more than 15 times around the world, travelling and trying new experiences, such as starting the Global MBA.

Before I started school in September 2013, I had an idea to create my own company based on my entrepreneurial spirit and my personal experience of chronic illness. Of course, I had to face criticism that it is difficult to pursue an MBA and create a company at the same time, but I preferred to trust in myself and my energy.

ESSEC is known for innovation and entrepreneurship, and I can say that I really feel this in daily life. My first step was to create a business plan, which – I discovered – is not a static document, but a living strategy, changing from day to day. My second step was to present my project to the ESSEC Social Entrepreneurship Chair and ESSEC Ventures to join a business incubator and get support. This was particularly attractive, since 80% of projects sponsored by ESSEC Ventures are successful 5 years later. After some interviews, I finally joined the ESSEC Ventures incubator. The ESSEC Ventures team offered great support and was always available to offer advice and orientation. ESSEC has the resources to help student entrepreneurs, so don’t forget to ask! I also received help from the finance professors, as well as students in the MBA in Hospitality Management and the MBA in International Luxury Brand Management, who helped me on some particular aspects of my project, such as how approach a hotel and how to create luxury package offers. I also organized three focus groups to get some real qualitative data.

The ESSEC Alumni Association also helped me out a lot, giving me many opportunities for discussion and exchange. Some of the entrepreneurs in the incubator, like Deways or Heimanu, gave me precious advice for my project. Of course, it’s tough to have meetings with your prospects, future partners, and suppliers, while at the same time juggling MBA assignments, group projects, and final exams, AND to do a good job as a class representative. All my life, however, I’ve been driven by hyperactivity and good time management, so these last months have flown by and have gotten more and more interesting.

Finally, at the beginning of January, after 5 months of work, I discussed my project with key French doctors, but I did not receive the support I expected. Even though my project’s credibility didn’t fully depend on them, I decided to halt the creation of my company. I think in entrepreneurship it is also very important to know when to stop to keep your losses affordable.

My days as an entrepreneur are not over, however. With some teammates, I applied to the Hult Challenge in November 2013 and we were selected to advance to the regional finals in Shanghai. This means a new business model is coming soon!

The Term That Was!

By Dhriti Chandrashekar, Global MBA 2013-2014, India

As we embark on a new term, I want to look back at our first. A week after integration at ESSEC, we found ourselves participating in a leadership camp at Saint-Cyr. It took a lot of sweat, determination and hard work to get through. In hindsight, I feel this was a very important moment, as it not only taught us about teamwork and leadership, but also brought us closer together. Since my friends have already written about the St Cyr experience in this blog, I won’t go into detail, but if you haven’t read their posts you should scroll down and read them NOW. There couldn’t have been a better start to the term than this!

Who would have thought that pursuing an MBA would land you in a class on “Decisions & Negotiations”? This one week, intensive class involved live negotiations in many formats, such as one-on-one, multi-party, etc. Picture this: a bunch of MBA students battling each other out, negotiating to get the best deals, keeping both parties’ interests involved. Pure fun!

Group work is a huge part of an MBA. After all, we aspire to be business leaders and group work teaches us to manage people and projects. This term also witnessed a great deal of group work. What we didn’t see coming were the long nights, the multiple group meetings, the never-ending Google hangouts, and the numerous email exchanges leading up to presentations. We also collaborated with students from the MBA in International Luxury Brand Management in a few courses; that just meant more group work! Soon we’re going to have to start scheduling meetings to schedule meetings to make sure there are no conflicts…

When I enrolled in an MBA, I never thought I would write an entire case by myself, which I ended up doing for a strategy course. A business game was an engaging way to learn accounting from a new perspective. Finally, what if I were to give you the two following statements and asked you to find the confidence interval to reject the null hypothesis in favour of the alternate hypothesis?

Null Hypothesis H0: “GMBA students hardly worked this term”.
Alternate Hypothesis H1: “GMBA students worked very hard this term”.

Got it? If not, not to worry. After a Statistics course with Professor Vinzi, you should be able to answer, “I reject the null hypothesis in favour of the alternate hypothesis with 95% confidence,” unless you have someone like Ting Ting in your class saying, “Your sample size is too small to draw a conclusion.” :-)

The last two weeks of the term turned out to be the most exhausting. During these two weeks, every single one of us burnt the midnight oil working on case studies, presentations, assignments, and prepping for final exams. NTT Europe Ltd, a subsidiary of NTT Communications, visited us in the final week. “Cloud Computing,” “Big Data,” etc.; these terms are no longer meaningless jargon for me, thanks to NTT’s presentation.

If you think that all this hard work left us with no time for fun, think again. Ever heard of the phrase “work hard, play harder”? From in-class birthday celebrations with cakes and pies baked by Arnaud, impromptu get-togethers at Cergy Le Haut, long poker nights at du Port, an all-MBA holiday party, barbecue at Ingrid’s, potlucks at ESSEC, la Nuit Blanche in Paris, and many visits to Foy’s, these were some of the good times that we enjoyed as MBA students!

A selection of Global MBA baked goods and good times...


I'll Make a Man Out of You, My Daughter: Women in the Workplace

By Ingrid Cazalis, Global MBA 2013-2014, France

Yesterday I attended “Les Mardis de l’ESSEC” (ESSEC Tuesdays, ESSEC’s weekly lecture and debate series) on the topic of women in society with the provocative title, “I’ll Make a Man out of You, My Daughter.” We weren’t there to spout clichés about the sexes, but to discuss the evolution of the role of women in society. The two amazing speakers were Clara Gaymard, the VP of General Electric and mother of 9 children, and Aude de Thuin, a strong entrepreneur and creator of the Women’s Forum. They offered lots of great advice and an interesting and complementary discussion.

In France, we waited till 1944 for women to get the right to vote and till 1991 for the first female Prime Minister, Edith Cresson. Today, the figures show that women are still under-represented in management jobs; 98% of the CAC 40 CEOs are men and only 20% of the COMEX members are women. Some people will criticize the new Copé Zimmerman quota law, which requires equal representation of men and women on corporate boards, for lowering the quality of the board members, but it is a way to get more women involved in decision-making. Women’s salaries are still 18% lower than men’s, with no growth in the past 5 years.

We might wonder if the “glass ceiling” of the 1970s is still in place today. For generations, women have faced doubts and fears that are not easy to overcome. Some of the examples cited during the discussion were men’s greater willingness to negotiate their salary, relocation, or to take advantage of perks, while women are more likely to wonder about the limits of the job and their capabilities. Future managers (like ourselves) should take these differences into consideration. The new generation is changing, but these things take time. As Madeline Albright said, “It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.”

What about working and having a family? Today, having both is a strength because it demonstrates patience, organization and self-control.

Clara Gaymard’s advice was to take a job related to a company’s core business if you want to climb the company ladder. Aude de Thuin recommended finding a highly-placed mentor who can help you deal with your doubts and take the key steps in your career.

And what did they say about sexist remarks from male managers? As long as your interactions are normally positive and respectful, try to respond with a bit of humor.

Two ESSEC Teams Advance to Regional Finals of Fifth Annual Hult Prize

Top-tier schools go head-to-head in world’s largest student competition, competing for $1 million in start-up funding to solve President Clinton’s Healthcare Challenge

L-R: Samia Badji, Charles Haines
Rene Forjanic, Arnaud Fouquet
Sherry Wei Jiaying

Paris, France (13 January 2014) — The Hult Prize Foundation recently announced that two teams from ESSEC Business School have advanced to the regional finals of the Fifth annual Hult Prize. The Hult Prize is the world’s largest student competition and start-up platform for social good. In partnership with President Bill Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative, the innovative crowdsourcing platform identifies and launches disruptive and catalytic social ventures that aim to solve the planet’s most pressing challenges. Student teams compete in six cities around the world for a chance to secure US$ 1 million in start-up funding to launch a sustainable social venture.

The team members are from the Global MBA and ESSEC’s PhD program. The first team includes Rene Forjanic (Slovenia), Charles Haines (UK), and Arnaud Fouquet (France) from the Global MBA, and Samia Badji (France) and Sherry Wei Jiaying (China) from the PhD program. The second team includes Ingrid Cazalis (France), Naoki Kitabayashi (USA), Claudia Pumarejo (Mexico), and Richard Huynh (France) from the Global MBA.

L-R: Richard Huynh, Naoki Kitabayashi
Ingrid Cazalis, Claudia Pumarejo
Rene Forjanic says, "Our teams are honored to be chosen to advance to the regional finals of the 2014 Hult Prize. In our hectic lives, we often forget how privileged we are. As MBA graduates, we strongly feel it is our duty to apply our studies and experience to give back to society for the opportunity we have had to thrive. As we move forward, we are motivated to excel by the knowledge that our projects are two among many entrepreneurial ideas to improve the healthcare and lives of the urban poor."

The 2014 Hult Prize will focus on the 250 million slum dwellers around the world suffering from chronic diseases who need help – a challenge personally selected by President Bill Clinton. Ahmad Ashkar, CEO and Founder of the Hult Prize, attributes the success of the competition to the shift in the global economy and the millennial generation’s refusal to live in a world with inequality, “We are giving entrepreneurs from around the world a platform to innovate and revolutionize the way we think about servicing the poor.”

Each team selected was chosen from more than 10,000 applications received from over 350 colleges and universities in over 150 countries. The Hult Prize regional competitions will take place on March 7 and 8, 2014 in Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai, Shanghai and Sao Paulo. ESSEC’s teams will compete in Dubai and Shanghai.

Following the regional finals, one winning team from each host city will move into a summer business incubator, where participants will receive mentorship, advisory and strategic planning as they create prototypes and set-up to launch their new social business. A final round of competition will be hosted by the Clinton Global Initiative at its annual meeting in September, where CGI delegates will select a winning team, which will be awarded the US$ 1,000,000 Prize by President Bill Clinton himself. The President has said, “The Hult Prize is a wonderful example of the creative cooperation needed to build a world with shared opportunity, shared responsibility, and shared prosperity, and each year I look forward to seeing the many outstanding ideas the competition produces.”

About the Hult Prize
The Hult Prize is a start-up accelerator for social entrepreneurship, which brings together the brightest college and university students from around the globe to solve the world’s most pressing issues. The annual initiative is the world’s largest student competition and crowd-sourcing platform for social good. The Hult Prize has been funded by the Hult family since its inception in 2009. To learn more, visit

About The Clinton Global Initiative
Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date, CGI members have made more than 2,500 commitments, which are already improving the lives of more than 430 million people in over 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at $87.9 billion.

About ESSEC Business School
ESSEC Business School is one of France’s top business schools and a European leader in management education. Since 1907, ESSEC has developed a unique learning model based on its core values of innovation, open-mindedness, responsibility and excellence. ESSEC offers a comprehensive range of programs, including undergraduate, graduate and executive education. Today the ESSEC community represents over 90 nationalities, 4,400 students, 5,000 managers in executive education, and 130 permanent faculty members, located on three campuses in Cergy-Pontoise, Paris La Défense and Singapore. Its network of 44,000 active alumni extends across 55 countries. ESSEC’s tailor-made approach to business education serves its mission of training ambitious and responsible leaders for tomorrow’s world.

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