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How The HEC Paris Executive MBA Made Me A Serial Entrepreneur

Melia Xiao enrolled in the HEC Paris Executive MBA to gain the skills you need to successfully build a startup. Now she's a serial entrepreneur

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Fri Sep 3 2021

BusinessBecause
Melia Xiao has held roles in business development, project management, and business analysis; but it’s in entrepreneurship she found her passion.

She’s an engineering grad from the UK’s University of Cambridge who pivoted her career in 2015 when she co-founded the Dolphin Art Institute—a school for the creative arts for children in Shanghai—and entered the world of entrepreneurship.

Since then, she’s embarked on an entrepreneurial journey. In 2020, she moved to France to found Laboratoire Femmeilleur, a herbal supplements company, which she now runs as CEO. 

To give herself and her company the best chance of success, she enrolled in the HEC Paris Executive MBA program—where 35% of students go on to become entrepreneurs—to brush up on her skills. 


Developing an entrepreneurial spirit 

Entrepreneurship is about solving problems, and Melia’s journey to becoming an entrepreneur has been built on her passion for creating solutions to help others. 

She initially chose to launch the Dolphin Art Institute because she felt she could improve schooling in China by transporting some of what she’d learned while studying in England.  

“In China it’s too competitive and children aren’t taught to reach their full potential,” she says. “I wanted to help the students in China benefit from the Western education.”

The life of an entrepreneur can be hectic. Launching the school saw Melia running administration, managing the project, and leading the team. But that made it more rewarding when she saw results, she says. 

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“It’s a really different experience compared to working for corporations,” she explains, “it is hard work, but you can see a real impact on people’s lives with what you do.” 

Six years after she co-founded the Dolphin Art Institute, Melia channeled her entrepreneurial spirit into providing supplements for women going through menopause. Laboratoire Femmeilleur offers natural Chinese herbal medicine developed by Melia’s father’s pharmaceutical company. 

Melia’s task of bringing a Chinese medicine to the French market has seen her establish a network, carry out market research, develop a supply chain, and keep on top of administration. In the 18 months Melia has spent running the company, she’s mostly worked alone, subcontracting any work she can’t do herself.

“Entrepreneurship is all about doing things you’ve never done before,” she says. “You face a new challenge every day and you just have to keep finding ways to resolve them.” 


Why the HEC Paris Executive MBA? 

Melia decided to enroll in the HEC Paris EMBA just before starting her entrepreneurial journey in France. Knowing the difficulties of running a startup alone, she felt the EMBA would ensure she had all the knowledge she needed.

“There were areas where I was lacking certain skills and as an entrepreneur you have to do everything yourself,” she says. 

After considering a few business schools, she chose HEC Paris because of the school’s stellar reputation as the highest ranked EMBA in Europe, along with the program’s entrepreneurial focus. 

Students can choose electives including entrepreneurial innovation, social entrepreneurship, and entrepreneurship strategy. They can also major in the ‘Test Your Startup’ project accelerator, where they learn how to differentiate their startups from competitors.

The end result is that by graduation you’ll have experience across all aspects of launching your own venture, from establishing a team to pitching both your idea and yourself to potential investors. 

“Entrepreneurship is very strong at HEC Paris; it matched exactly to what I needed for developing my business,” Melia explains. 

Enrolling in a graduate business program also gave Melia the chance to expand her network, meeting fellow entrepreneurs on the course along with students with expertise in a wide variety of fields. 

“Something that’s great about the program is that it’s a really collaborative environment. Everybody is willing to share and help each other, and I felt really well supported,” she says. 

Students also benefit from learning from professors of entrepreneurship with years of experience, many of whom have launched businesses of their own.

“The professors sharing their experiences really encouraged me,” Melia says, “they really inspired me with their passion and their talents and dedication.” 


Becoming a serial entrepreneur

As Melia looks to the future, she plans to build a team to help expand her business in France and take Laboratoire Femmeilleur to the next level. She says she’ll do this by leveraging the connections she made on the HEC Paris Executive MBA and using her expertise in assembling talent. 

“The EMBA helped me to know how to recognize people’s talents and find people with complementary skill sets to myself,” she explains. 

But Laboratoire Femmeilleur isn’t the end of her entrepreneurial journey. Once the company achieves its goals, Melia plans to launch another venture in education, either in Europe or back home in China. 

“The daring spirit at HEC Paris has really inspired me and given me confidence to keep going with this entrepreneurial adventure,” she says, “it’s a very long journey and will probably require more daring to complete it.” 

Student Reviews

HEC Paris

Student

Verified

7/07/2022

On Campus

Cultural experience

I have met the most competent and diverse batch in this school. These people not only thrive on their own but also makes sure that you are doing it with them. The professors will take your had and walk you through all milestones and make sure you are not left behind. I have found their extracurriculars extremely engaging. There was always a room to have social life after academic life. The only hindrance is the location of the school, it is slightly outside city and living in city is expensive.

Sarah

Verified

18/03/2022

On Campus

Internationality and diversity of opportunities

About my programme I would say it is very international and flexible: we have the opportunity to choose exactly the courses we want. But at the same time, the frame of the campus is crucial in students' life and enable us to create friendships.

Student

Verified

29/10/2021

On Campus

Great selection of people

While HEC's MBA is highly selective, I really enjoy the type of people HEC's selects to make sure everybody gets the best out of their MBA experience and networking opportunities. Not only it's an incredibly diverse pool of people (~60 nationalities) but most importantly they make sure to let in friendly empathic and curious people.

Veronique

Verified

28/10/2021

Blended

Best in France for Grande ecole

A prestigious business school. Languages ​​are important. It is better to have a scientific baccalaureate with excellent grades in high school and good assessments. The courses are well designed as per the latest trends and practicality of learning in stressed upon. Overall, a very good experience.

Ghadi

Verified

11/06/2022

On Campus

Diversity and quality of fellow students

Very international and interesting place to be and opens a lot of opportunities, however the administration is very french and facilities are subpar (gym, classrooms) meaning the academic affairs is pretty much useless and lastly we are graded on a curve which can create a toxic environment because of the competition. With that being said the pros outweighs the cons by far.

Student

Verified

27/03/2022

On Campus

The quality of the teachers, the campus, the clubs

The school is very international indeed, we have courses with international students and share things with them within the extra academic life (in the social clubs especially). We have great career prospects if we prepare ourselves well - however, the global curriculum is still very finance-oriented, which is a pity for other interesting domains of the company world, which does not rely on finance only. The social clubs are good practice for the management and for now, are quite independent.

Lb

Verified

26/03/2022

On Campus

HEC Paris awaits you

HEC Paris is really a nice place to do a master's in business. Many classes are useful and interesting (corporate finance, financial accounting, contract law…), some are less - but the curriculum is to be reviewed in the year to come. Regarding the student life, it is incredible, with about 130 clubs, lots of great parties with even greater people. The Jouy campus offers a lot of opportunities to do sports, and you can breathe fresh air every day. HEC also helps a great deal to find an internship or a job.

Rajarshi

Verified

28/10/2021

Blended

A dream institute

Enrolling in the HEC MBA was by far the best decision I made for myself. The people and faculty are great, with lots of opportunities to meet people and expand your horizons. Very nice campus where I have had some good running sessions. The alumni network is superb and very helpful. It also has a good support system for entrepreneurs. Would definitely recommend it!

Student

Verified

19/10/2021

On Campus

Good choice for a career boost

The classes were extremely practical and relevant to the current challenges that businesses are facing. You have access to a wide range of professionals and good career prospects once you leave the university.

Student

Verified

7/07/2022

On Campus

Cultural experience

I have met the most competent and diverse batch in this school. These people not only thrive on their own but also makes sure that you are doing it with them. The professors will take your had and walk you through all milestones and make sure you are not left behind. I have found their extracurriculars extremely engaging. There was always a room to have social life after academic life. The only hindrance is the location of the school, it is slightly outside city and living in city is expensive.

Sarah

Verified

18/03/2022

On Campus

Internationality and diversity of opportunities

About my programme I would say it is very international and flexible: we have the opportunity to choose exactly the courses we want. But at the same time, the frame of the campus is crucial in students' life and enable us to create friendships.

Student

Verified

29/10/2021

On Campus

Great selection of people

While HEC's MBA is highly selective, I really enjoy the type of people HEC's selects to make sure everybody gets the best out of their MBA experience and networking opportunities. Not only it's an incredibly diverse pool of people (~60 nationalities) but most importantly they make sure to let in friendly empathic and curious people.

Veronique

Verified

28/10/2021

Blended

Best in France for Grande ecole

A prestigious business school. Languages ​​are important. It is better to have a scientific baccalaureate with excellent grades in high school and good assessments. The courses are well designed as per the latest trends and practicality of learning in stressed upon. Overall, a very good experience.

Ghadi

Verified

11/06/2022

On Campus

Diversity and quality of fellow students

Very international and interesting place to be and opens a lot of opportunities, however the administration is very french and facilities are subpar (gym, classrooms) meaning the academic affairs is pretty much useless and lastly we are graded on a curve which can create a toxic environment because of the competition. With that being said the pros outweighs the cons by far.

Student

Verified

27/03/2022

On Campus

The quality of the teachers, the campus, the clubs

The school is very international indeed, we have courses with international students and share things with them within the extra academic life (in the social clubs especially). We have great career prospects if we prepare ourselves well - however, the global curriculum is still very finance-oriented, which is a pity for other interesting domains of the company world, which does not rely on finance only. The social clubs are good practice for the management and for now, are quite independent.

Lb

Verified

26/03/2022

On Campus

HEC Paris awaits you

HEC Paris is really a nice place to do a master's in business. Many classes are useful and interesting (corporate finance, financial accounting, contract law…), some are less - but the curriculum is to be reviewed in the year to come. Regarding the student life, it is incredible, with about 130 clubs, lots of great parties with even greater people. The Jouy campus offers a lot of opportunities to do sports, and you can breathe fresh air every day. HEC also helps a great deal to find an internship or a job.

Rajarshi

Verified

28/10/2021

Blended

A dream institute

Enrolling in the HEC MBA was by far the best decision I made for myself. The people and faculty are great, with lots of opportunities to meet people and expand your horizons. Very nice campus where I have had some good running sessions. The alumni network is superb and very helpful. It also has a good support system for entrepreneurs. Would definitely recommend it!

Student

Verified

19/10/2021

On Campus

Good choice for a career boost

The classes were extremely practical and relevant to the current challenges that businesses are facing. You have access to a wide range of professionals and good career prospects once you leave the university.

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