The A-Z of Business Schools: HEC School of Management, Paris

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Age: 117

History: Set up as the grande ecole for management (HEC stands for Hautes tudes Commerciales) to train the best and brightest for business and industry. Behind its creation was the Paris Chamber of Commerce which thought traditional universities were not doing a good job of preparing students for commerce. In the late 1950s it was decided change was needed. Case-based and small-group teaching was introduced, as well as teamwork.Address: Jouy-en-Jossas, which is on the Metro, 10 miles from Notre Dame, near Versailles.

Ambience: Purpose-built 250-acre campus, green and leafy, with excellent facilities - a fitness centre, soccer stadium, martial arts centre, basketball court, indoor and outdoor tennis and use of nine-hole golf course 10 minutes away. Most students live on campus in individual rooms or apartments for married couples.

Vital statistics: The flagship of French management and business education, it is voted the best school by French employers and students. Bilingual version of MBA launched in 1991. High academic standards but the programme has a rounded approach to management. Less competitive than INSEAD.

Added value: Big emphasis on languages. Students are taught to think locally and act globally. They have to become bilingual in French and English, and can also learn up to eight other languages - Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Russian etc. After two semesters students specialise and carry out a sponsored company consulting project.

Easy to get into? No. You need a degree plus good GMAT score (the average is 630) and a language test. Then you are interviewed by two different committees. Work experience recommended though you can get in without.

Association of MBA's accreditation: Yes.

Glittering alumni: Emmanuel d'Andre, CEO, 3 Suisses International; Vincent Barnouin, executive director, Goldman Sachs; Tammasco Barracco, vice president, Boston Consulting Group, Milan; Isabelle Guichot, CEO, Cartier; Jean-Marie Hennes, senior vice president, Mars & Co.

International connections: MBA students come from all over - more than 30 nationalities. There are 34 exchange programmes with schools in Europe, US, South America, Canada and Asia.

Gurus: Jean-Noel Kapferer, marketing professor who specialises in brands; Bernard Dubois, another marketing professor; Bruno Solnik, professor of finance and economics, and author of International Investments, now in its third edition.

Student profile: Average age on the MBA is 28; male/female mix 80:20.

Cost: pounds 12,500 for 16 months.

Return on investment: Pay hike. Average starting salary of graduates is around pounds 41,500 without bonuses.

Who's the boss: Strategy professor Bernard Ramanantsoa who has an MBA from HEC and likes to take MBA students sailing in the South of France.

Next week: Helsinki School of Economics and Business Administration.