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How Do You Become A Better Leader? CEO Mentor Shares All With HEC MBAs In London

MBA alumni from HEC Paris and ESSEC Business School got top tips from a leading business mentor last week. David Carter is a successful entrepreneur and works with big-name CEOs.

Wed Feb 5 2014

One of the world's leading mentors to top CEOs told MBA alumni from top-ranked French business schools what they need to get ahead in business.

David C.M. Carter has helped over 50 clients become multi-millionaires, working with an exclusive list of just 10 clients at any one time – ranging from CEOs of multinational companies to entrepreneurs, celebrities and philanthropists.

At the Caledonian Club in Belgravia in central London last week, David shared with alumni from top MBA ranking schools including HEC Paris and ESSEC Business School his tips on inspirational leadership, and how to become a better version of yourself and define success.

The event brought together an audience of 150 UK-based MBA alumni. David, author of BREAKTHROUGH and the founder of Merryck & Co, was the keynote speaker. The ambitious crowd were hungry for answers as they listened to the speaker explain “How to be a better version of myself”.

Defining success

Starting with a few highlights from pivotal stages in his career, including finance and entrepreneurship and his epiphany moment 14 years ago when he chose to be a mentor, David summarized the key components of success in a four-item check-list.

“I found myself doing something that I was good at, that I loved doing, which paid the bills and made a difference. We should all seek to combine all of these things in what we do,” he told the crowd.                      

What makes an inspirational leader?

David recounted the four life-stages that he describes in his book, BREAKTHROUGH: Learning, Loving, Living and Leaving – the last word referring to one’s legacy. “Most people start thinking about what they will leave behind later in life; but inspirational leaders tend to have the ‘make a difference’ philosophy in their DNA from very early on,” he said.

Speaking to a captivated audience, David explained that his BREAKTHROUGH mantra starts with simple realisations: Identifying the time wasters and focusing on “doing what only I can do”, imagining your “dream board” and picturing a vision of the life you aspire to in order to create a pathway for attainment.

Gettng a mentor and being one to others, knowing your inner self – how you function, how others perceive you, were also his key messages.

Practical tips to being the best version of yourself

David’s beliefs that a series of five-degree course corrections will set you on a trajectory to be the best version of yourself have resonated strongly with all of the alumni. He answered deeply thoughtful questions from the audience on mentoring, self-awareness and personal achievement.

The importance of having a mentor in business

Many leading CEOs have cited mentors as key to their success and David is no different. He told the audience that it is also important to be a mentor to others, too. “Be a mentor as well as a mentee – give what you want to receive,” he said.

“Let the mentor enjoy the process of mentoring too. Choose a mentor as per what suits you best; mentoring creates a ‘safe space’ for both the persons involved to share opinion without being judged.

“And if things do not go the way you envision, know when to pull the plug and move on. Distinguish between failure and a learning opportunity.”

“Every one of us could take something away from tonight,” said Laure Fau, HEC Alumni and co-organiser of the event. “I personally liked the idea of building a vision of your dream future and working backwards on how to get there – something David Carter calls back-casting, by contrast to fore-casting.”

Jeev Sahoo, who graduated from the HEC Paris MBA in 2012, agreed. “He kept the audience well-engaged. Audience members who were asked for feedback had a positive feeling and a willingness to come back again for similar HEC events,” he said.

“Personally, this was a much needed dosage of inspiration and structured positivity. An added bonus was the fact that the audience consisted of people from three different schools in Europe, and a number of HEC Paris alumni from all age groups in London.

“It was a very fertile ground to meet entrepreneurs, investors and prospective clients who have the base common thought of 'how to be a better me'.”

Other MBA attendees cited “how to break-up a mentoring relation which is not working” and “the difference between executive coaching and mentoring" as their highlights.

The event also served as a catch-up for HEC alumni whom are otherwise engaged in busy schedules, Jeev added.

Keynote speaker David spent ten years in banking and private equity, followed by another decade in his thirties as an entrepreneur in the UK leisure sector, including two start-ups, one of which was sold, and the second launched on the AIM stock market.

He spent the next 14 years building and leading, as Founder, CEO and Chairman, Merryck & Co., which eventually became the world’s leading CEO business mentoring company. 

Student Reviews

ESSEC Business School




On Campus

The best intercultural university

There are more than 50 nationality in the grade, so there are opportunities to interact with people from all around the world. In terms of academics, the BBA course offers diverse courses for the 1st




On Campus

Creativity, adaptability and entrepreneurship

The Master in Management program at the ESSEC Business School allows the students to choose their courses accordingly to their preferences and their professional targets. We can also go through international exchange and take part in internships with companies that are also partners with the school. The school is also next to the city of Paris.




On Campus

Top business school in France

Doing PhD in essec took some time, to be precise about five years. But the experience was very good and cost effective too. There are opportunities for the student for teaching assistantship and that helps both financially and in career. In the final year I could manage to teach marketing to M1 students and this helped shape my career




On Campus

Great college

The program is well suited for early professionals with an engineering degree preferably or a degree in economics. I would suggest taking the ceasure irrespective of the experience level as it helps you take your time to adjust to the job market.





Good school in France

I am currently enrolled in M2 in Essec business school. I am specialising in marketing management. The Grande Ecole programme is valued in France and my school ranks very high up. There are a lot of opportunities for internships and CDD.




The program curriculum

BBA program. The program is really practical and useful, provide us many international opportunities. Like internship and humanitarian experience, and the flexibility is also really cool, we can choose different campus and tracks as we want.




International Course

This school is very international and business oriented. Highly recognized by the companies The campus has been renovated and is very functional and modern from now on. Excellent atmosphere. Reputation of essec is a plus




Friends, Career opportunities.

The program I did gave me the opportunity to start in Singapore. I got the chance to know all the students that started there and we bonded and made some friends for life. The career opportunities that ESSEC also gave me were unbelievable.




Practical and useful

I think the best thing about Essec is that it's not focusing on academics rather it emphasizes on future job mindset and professional experiences.. The classes are interesting and we have plenty of workshops attributing to different sectors.. The campus is very nice with a good cafe and wonderful library. The only problem is the location of the campus. It's quite far from Paris.




On Campus

Amazing experience! Must try

I think its a very amazing school with great and experienced faculty. Also the alumni network is very solid and useful. The school has a great balance of studies and work experience which is really essential for a student.




On Campus

GBBA: Diverse, Enriching, and Career-Boosting

My experience at ESSEC Business School has been outstanding. The Global BBA program offers a rich academic curriculum and diverse learning opportunities. I appreciated the chance to study on different campuses, including an international exchange, which broadened my perspective. The social environment is culturally diverse and vibrant, enhancing both my personal and professional growth. The administration is attentive, constantly offering new academic and student life opportunities. The campus facilities and classrooms are excellent. I highly recommend ESSEC for its excellence, global exposure, and career opportunities.




On Campus


The English track BBA program at ESSEC is simply exceptional. Courses are taught by internationally renowned professors who are experts in their field. The subjects taught cover a wide range of disciplines from marketing to finance, strategy and entrepreneurship. The English track is a major asset because it allows you to develop perfect mastery of professional English, essential in today's globalized business world. Some students love student life at Essec, which is one of the best in France, but it all depends on taste.




On Campus

Great program, incredible school

I love almost everything about this school, from the student life to the academic program and the opportunities it provides. I'm currently at the Paris campus, in Cergy, and I'm really enjoying it. The BBA program is very rich and diversified, you can start with geopolitics and then finance, what I mean is that there's a great balance between the subjects in this program. I was also lucky enough to spend a semester at the Singapore campus, and I loved that experience on the other side of the world. ESSEC is also known for its dynamic and rich student life, with access to several parties a week and the various associations within the school. If I could recommend just one school, it would be this one - I'm 100% satisfied.