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How An HEC Paris Executive MBA Helped Me Become Associate Partner At IBM

From humble beginnings, Daniela Jimenez progressed to an associate partner role at multinational tech firm IBM. She says her HEC Paris Executive MBA helped her get the job

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Thu Dec 9 2021

BusinessBecause
Daniela Jimenez, newly minted associate partner with IBM, grew up in rural Mexico with such tight clean water restrictions that there wasn’t always enough for a shower. The nearest road was over a kilometer away.

Her father, a local policeman, was tragically shot and killed when Daniela was 21. Daniela decided to move to France to start a new life. With no one to help her, she took out a loan to finance her undergraduate studies. 

From humble beginnings, she embarked on a 13-year business career in Europe, spanning startups, a Big Four accounting firm, and the Executive MBA program at HEC Paris, before landing a role with one of the world’s 50 largest companies. 


Why an Executive MBA? 

Daniela forged a successful career by becoming an expert in customer relationship management (CRM), a function she immediately began after leaving undergraduate business and administration school.

“Because I took out a loan to pay for my studies, I needed to have a job to pay it back very quickly,” she explains. Finding a job became Daniela’s top priority after graduating; she soon accepted a role with a technology startup, working in CRM and specializing in Salesforce software. 

“I didn’t choose CRM as a passion, it was more that I needed a job,” she explains. 

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But Daniela grew to enjoy her role, which required a focus on customer success, and working closely with marketing and sales teams. “You feel like you’re really doing something,” she says. 

Over a number of years, she took on several CRM roles with a range of companies including the Big Four accounting firm Deloitte. There, she decided to expand her knowledge beyond her technical expertise, as she felt at risk of becoming outdated. 

“When you work in technology there is always a risk because new technologies come in, so you always need to be learning and catching up. At some point I said, ‘OK I need to do something that stays forever’.” 

Adding a more fundamental understanding of business to her technical expertise would also give Daniela the credentials to have a shot at landing an executive position. 

“It was at that point I started to think about an EMBA,” she says.


The HEC Paris EMBA

Daniela was inspired to choose the HEC Paris EMBA by her mentor at Deloitte, the company’s CMO. Also, as a mother with small children and a demanding job, she was attracted by the program’s flexibility. 

Classes for the March track of the HEC Paris EMBA occur twice a month, on Fridays and Saturdays. It’s taught from the school’s campus in Paris’ Latin Quarter. 

“I lived very near to the HEC Paris campus so having it in Paris and only at weekends was perfect,” Daniela says. “What HEC did is brilliant because they adapt to students like me.” 

The HEC Paris EMBA is ranked number one in the world by the Financial Times and takes place over 15-18 months. It features core modules on business fundamentals like Corporate Finance and Marketing Strategy, along with leadership and career development courses. 

Students can customize their experience during specialization periods. Of the eight specializations available, Daniela chose to focus on digital transformation where she believed she already had expertise. 

The course gave a broad overview of the different elements of digital transformation, helping Daniela expand her knowledge beyond Salesforce and CRM.  “I thought I knew everything about digital transformation but I found out that wasn’t true,” she says. 

Soft skill sessions also helped Daniela improve her communication, adaptability, and leadership skills. By the end of the program, she felt she’d developed a well-rounded business understanding that could help her make the jump to an executive career.  

“Within the program, going from one subject to anotheraccounting, finance and so onmeans you can take the important things from each and put them all together.” 


Associate partner at IBM

Towards the end of her time at HEC Paris, Daniela was invited to interview with IBM for an associate partner role. It required an understanding of Salesforce, along with the expertise to deal with stakeholders and the implications of wider business objectives. 

The interview process allowed Daniela to demonstrate the business skills and expertise she’d picked up during the EMBA. “They hired me one week later, so I definitely think it [the EMBA] helped me,” she says. 

“At IBM, most people who are associate partners or partners and above have MBAs or Executive MBAs,” she adds.

The role sees her managing sales and delivery, validating risk and pricing, and overseeing the growth of accounts. In short, it’s an almost entirely business-focused position. 

“Before the EMBA, if you had talked to me about this [work I’m doing], I couldn’t even imagine what it was,” she says.  

“Now, I couldn’t survive without the EMBA.”  

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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