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A Labor Of Love: How These MBA Couples Made It Through Business School Together

Love and careers both blossom on HEC Paris’ idyllic woodland campus

By  Marco De Novellis

Mon Feb 13 2017

Surrounded by woodland and just 12 miles from the romantic capital of the world, HEC Paris’ idyllic campus plays host to hundreds of full-time MBA students each year.

92% of HEC Paris MBA students are international, representing over 40 different nationalities. They come from all over the world for a 16-month MBA at one of Europe's top-ranked business school. They’re bright, ambitious, and many are unattached.

Over 90% will go on to land new, high-wage jobs within three months of graduation. At least a third will take the MBA triple jump, changing location, industry, and role. Some will find love during their MBA. Others don’t need to.

In each incoming class, there are a minority of happy couples who’ve decided to put their relationship to the test and go through the MBA journey together.

Is HEC Paris a place where both love and career can blossom? This Valentine’s Day, we spoke to three HEC Paris MBA couples – including consultants, fashionistas, and a pair of triple jumpers – to find out.

Marika & Pablo Troncoso, MBA ‘16

Marika and Pablo were married, and had already been together for 10 years, when they relocated from Montreal, Canada, for an MBA at HEC Paris. Both landed new jobs in Paris after graduation; in luxury and finance respectively. Marika – who now works for French fashion house Chloé – told us more.


On choosing HEC Paris… We decided to pursue an MBA because we wanted to reinvent ourselves and take our careers to the next level. We met an HEC Paris representative in Canada and instantly realized that it was the best program for us.

It checked all the boxes: good value for money, a top worldwide ranking, a small class size, a 16-month duration, and a strong marketing specialization. To top everything off, we had a strong personal connection with France and wanted to live there.

On doing the MBA together… An MBA is such an emotionally intense and rich experience that to experience it with your partner is a double privilege.

There’s no better support than that of your spouse during the MBA application process. You always have a GMAT practice partner and you can give each other advice on application essays, because no one knows you better than your other half!

Before the MBA, we decided that we would not work together in school for the entire program, so that we could have our own parallel, but unique, experiences. This made coming home every evening even more special because we left any possible frustrations of our respective work groups behind.

On life after HEC Paris… The HEC Paris MBA allowed us to propel our careers and get jobs in the industries we were targeting. The name was a door opener that allowed us to get jobs in Europe. And the MBA made our relationship stronger. The graduation ceremony was a special moment for us, as we realized how far we had come and what we have achieved together.

Mariana & Bruno Knoedt, MBA ‘16/15


Mariana and Bruno met ten years ago, studying engineering in their native Brazil. They married in 2013. Less than a year later, they quit their consulting jobs and started their MBA. During the MBA, Mariana got the opportunity to intern as CEO of a local tech startup. After graduation, she secured a job at Microsoft in London. Bruno worked on a project with a family-owned organic food farm in Italy. He landed a management job at The Kraft Heinz Company after graduation. We spoke to Mariana to find out more.

On choosing HEC Paris… From our first contact with the admissions team, we knew HEC Paris would be a good fit for our profiles. Add to that, the excellent reputation, the ideal length of the program, and all the charm that living in Paris can possibly provide; it was a dream come true. 

On doing the MBA together… The months we spent as MBA students at HEC Paris will remain one of the most special periods of our lives. Besides enjoying living in Paris, travelling around France, getting to know Europe and making friends we want to keep for life, the MBA was a lot about personal and professional growth for us both.

These are never easy times. When everything around you changes, you can lose a sense of who you are. So many doors open up for you when you’re doing an MBA that it's easy to be seduced to follow other people’s dreams. It’s good to have someone close who really knows you, and with whom you can share your insecurities, self-discoveries, and ambitions. Through the MBA, our relationship just grew stronger and stronger.

On life after HEC Paris… Just after the MBA, we both got jobs in London and, once again, we were packing, moving, and exploring a new city and a new culture. At least this time we knew the language!

Both of us managed to make the triple jump in our careers, switching location, industry, and function. This wouldn't have happened without an MBA at a top tier business school in Europe. 

What you get from an MBA at HEC Paris goes beyond academics. Being part of the HEC Paris MBA community, and taking part in some of the countless extra-curricular activities on offer, can differentiate you from the crowd of MBA students graduating from top schools around the world, and make the difference in your job interviews.

Chloé Durand & Clement Bourgogne, MBA ‘16


Chloé and Clement both quit engineering and moved from their native Canada to start their MBA journey at HEC Paris in 2014. Now, Clement works for the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) while Chloé runs her own startup promoting ethical business in Montreal. We spoke to Clement who told us more.

On choosing HEC Paris… We both wanted to experience Europe, so we focused our attention on MBA programs there. The HEC Paris MBA was by far the best option for us. Given we both wanted to move away from engineering but towards very different sectors and functions, the flexibility and customizability of the HEC Paris MBA was very attractive.

On doing the MBA together… Deciding to do the MBA together turned out to be one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.

Being together made it easier to appreciate the breadth of activities offered through the program. We would often attend different events taking place at the same time and share whatever we took from the event afterwards. It’s also great to have someone at home to discuss the latest corporate finance or marketing case and get help on homework!

An MBA makes everything more intense, including arguments with your partner. But going through this experience together has definitely brought us closer and strengthened our relationship. We would do it all over again in a heartbeat!

On life after HEC Paris…

Clement: The HEC Paris MBA was a huge help in getting a job at a top consulting firm. Through the school’s network, I was able to connect with alumni working at McKinsey, Bain, and BCG, who helped me prepare for my interviews.

Chloé: The MBA allowed me to gain the business credibility that I didn’t have as an engineer and inspired me to pursue my entrepreneurial goals. Since I founded a B2B company, it was also crucial for me to be aware of the latest innovations in business practices. Having the chance to learn from top professors in fields such as marketing, finance and strategy allows me today to be innovative and have a clear vision of where my business is heading.