Real Humans of MBA Students: HEC Paris Executive MBA
Antoine Claasen, HEC Paris, Executive MBA
Undergraduate Institution & Major:
Toulouse Business School – Master of Science in International Strategy and Business Development Manager. University of Pretoria – B.Comm Marketing Management
Pre-MBA Work Experience:
High-performance professional athlete: CA Brive 2007-2012 / Casters Olympique 2012-2014 / Racing 92 2014-2021 XV France national team – 6 caps
Why Business School? Why Now?
As a professional rugby player for the past 15 years, I knew how important it was to prepare for the future and life after rugby. I do not have the same career path and/or experience as my fellow EMBA candidates. The crucial factor for me is gaining more significant experience in the business environment and implementing all the skills that I have acquired over the years as a professional athlete while continuing with my studies and gaining even more in-depth knowledge.
Why did you pick your school/program? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
HEC Paris has been a dream of mine ever since I did a presentation at HEC Paris in 2009 comparing the similarities in sport and the business world. The school allows me to combine my EMBA and work, both in the same region. Having the opportunity to share this experience with people from all over the world, learn from my peers, and hear different world views and perspectives is very enriching.
What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to your graduating class?
Having played professional rugby at the highest level for the past 15 years differentiates me from my peers. There are many things that I have learned and experienced over the past 15 years that has become natural or instinctive to my daily life; for many, these skills and/or experiences would be harder to acquire. One of the most valuable contributions that stand out for me is the importance of a team and teamwork. As an individual, one cannot be victorious alone. We must rely on the support and help of the people around us to succeed, which is something that I understood very early on.
Advice to current prospective applicants:
I believe it is vital to approach the HEC EMBA program with an open mindset and to be ready to learn from others. The relationships that one forms from the first week of the journey could be relationships you will value for the rest of your life. It is crucial to trust and rely on your peers because you are all on this journey together, and the support for each other will be crucial. Managing one’s time is crucial during the EMBA journey. At times it will feel as if there is a lot of pressure. It is crucial to manage the time around your family, work, and your studies. Lastly, I believe it is crucial to enjoy the process! The 15-18 months of your EMBA will pass in the blink of an eye. Even though it might seem as if there is much pressure from managing everyday life and work along with the EMBA, it is important to be purposeful about taking a step back and enjoy it.
What is your initial impression of the school’s students/culture/community?
Being exposed to so many different cultures, professional backgrounds, and experiences is a strong point of the HEC Paris EMBA. I can feel that I was part of a bigger community when I started the HEC Paris EMBA journey. There is a great sense of community and culture at HEC Paris, which pushes you to strive to be the best.