Why MBA: HEC Paris

George Clooney inspired Peggy Chung to trade California for Paris

Five years in the medical device industry didn’t meet Peggy Chung's career expectations, so the former clinical research scientist turned to the HEC Paris MBA in search of life-changing opportunities.

Ohio-born Chung felt that opportunities for progression were limited in her job – most at Abbott Vascular, a division of Abbott, one of the world's leading vascular care businesses.

“My position [at Abbott Vascular] was very niche,” she says. “Everybody did sort of very button-pushing tasks. I worked at two very small start-ups before that, so I felt very isolated [at my previous job].”

She worked for four medical device companies in California after graduating from University of California at Davis with a BSc in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behaviour. The 26-year-old says that the idea of doing an MBA crept up on her last summer.

“Firstly, it occurred to me it might be the path I want to take, as my previous position wasn’t going to take me any further,” notes Chung, whose role involved designing and examining prototypes of medical devices and standard-testing.

“I want to be able to make many decisions. I wasn’t at the level where I could make lots decisions for the company,” she says.

With her heart set on a top European MBA program, Chung applied to HEC Paris and London Business School, and HEC Paris was first to respond.

“HEC was the one I heard back quicker from and the one that I wanted to go.“I knew I wanted to go somewhere ranked at the top, because I didn’t think there would be enough [value] doing an MBA otherwise,” she explains.

Chung also says that post-MBA job prospects after her studies in Paris sounded irresistible: “This might be an opportunity to be bilingual and to be able to work in Europe.”

Chung arrived in Paris in early September to begin the 16-month HEC Paris MBA program. Though classes hadn’t kicked off at the time of writing, an international atmosphere was already noticeable.

“The school is extremely international; we’ve got people from every continent in the world,” she says. “I’ve noticed people can speak quite number of languages.”

Though her intermediate-level French requires improvement, Chung looks forward to being able to take classes taught in French at HEC, as the school offers the opportunity to do a bilingual session of classes for students whose French is strong enough.

In a bid to promote her future alma mater, Chung has already started a blog to record what could be a life-changing experience in Europe.

“There wasn’t enough out-reach for HEC [in the US]. This is a great program in Europe and I really want the Americans to hear about it. The blog is a way for me to share with Americans my stories from HEC,” says Chung whose goal is to post two entries every month.
Chung describes her blog as: “Growing up, branching out, and getting an MBA in the process”.

When the time comes for her to say farewell to HEC’s southwest Paris campus, Chung hopes to have secured a job in either luxury marketing or international sales. But one thing is certain: she is eager to learn the European way of doing business.

“I would like to learn how business is done in Europe,” Chung says. “They do things differently than us: their vacation is longer; their approach is more laid-back… We Americans could learn a lot from that.

“As George Clooney said: ‘I go to Europe to live, and come back to US to work.”

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