Here’s a talk with Anthony Lallier who just graduated from Harvard Business School and will start work at Bain & Company in the Paris office beginning in September. Thank you Anthony for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us!
This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with current MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. We hope to offer you a candid picture of student life, and what you should consider as you prepare your MBA application.
Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself: Where are you from? What and where did you study as an undergraduate and when did you graduate?
Anthony: I am a French citizen who worked and lived in 5 different countries and speaks 4 different languages. I have worked as a marketing manager for more than 4 years in a big German CPG firm called Henkel. As an undergraduate, I studied Marketing and Management at EM LYON Grande Ecole in France and completed my master degree in 2006. On a more personal note, I am an avid tennis player and love cooking for my friends recipes that I learnt from a 3-star Michelin chef.
Accepted: Why did you decide to pursue an MBA in the U.S.? Do you plan on continuing to live in the U.S.?
Anthony: To my mind, when you already have a diploma from a great undergraduate institution in Europe, a European MBA has not enough to offer to justify the commitment and cost. When it comes to Asian MBA programs, I had the feeling that both the academic offer and the network associated were not yet at par with U.S. programs. However, this might change soon due to the recent effort top schools in this region have made. Last but not least, I have always loved the U.S. business culture focused on hands on management and passion for results. This is why getting into a top U.S. b-school was my goal. Later on, I have decided for personal reasons to move back to Europe but I am convinced that the MBA credentials will help me to land a job in any international location any time in the future.
Accepted: What were some of your favorite things about HBS? Is there anything about the program you would have changed?
Anthony: Without a doubt the quality of the education I received at HBS is not something anyone can dispute. Professors are smart yet approachable and always there to help you out and go the extra mile if you need any specific support. Most students have very solid business experience and even if the average age is rather young, you can be sure that most students have extraordinary achievements to share from the private or corporate life. Along those lines, I must add that coming from Europe where most institutions are kind of state-owned and therefore always short of budget, I also enjoyed the quality of the infrastructure that HBS has to offer (from comfortable classrooms to an amazing gym and an excellent cafeteria). On a less serious note, while HBS is an artificial bubble with its own campus, I had great opportunities to travel around the world during my two years both for leisure and academic purposes including a trip to Haiti to support local entrepreneurs rebuild their business after the 2010 earthquake. If I was the dean I would take more into account that education and business are now fully global. HBS pretends that 35% of students are international but in my opinion this statistics is not worth much considering that many of those students are either bi-nationals (American and French for instance) or have been living in the U.S. for several years (undergraduate already in the U.S. and then career in the U.S.) before b-school. Along those lines, most seminars are focused on U.S. business issues like the U.S. competitiveness challenge. As a consequence, I don’t really see a true diversity at HBS.
Accepted: Where you involved in any clubs at HBS? How important do you think it is to supplement your education with these extracurricular activities?
Anthony: I was co-president of the Club des Francophones and an active member of a few other clubs including the soccer club and the Wine and Cuisine Society. Most people at HBS join 4 to 6 clubs in order both to supplement their education and have fun! It is a great way to develop friendships beyond the section experience during the first year. This is especially important because you can’t choose any of your section mates by definition, therefore joining clubs allows you to casually meet people with whom you probably have a common interest. Unsurprisingly, networking at HBS is part of the daily experience and clubs as well as fun social events are a great way to extend your circle of friends.
Accepted: I see you were a summer intern at Bain & Company. What was your experience like there? And what role did Harvard play in helping you secure that position?
Anthony: I loved it even though consulting (while it is one of the biggest job feeders) is not as popular as it used to be. I had offers at all top consulting firms but chose Bain & Company based on the personal interactions I had during the interview process. I felt that I had a better fit with the firm and my summer experience just confirmed it. To be honest, it was a tough internship with long working hours but people were passionate and willing to share and support you when needed. Consulting is a good match for people who love learning and working in project teams. HBS had a positive impact on my application for three reasons: first, the HBS credentials help you get an interview. Second, the HBS case method (while being different than consulting case interviews) helps you structure your thoughts the way consultants do. Third, HBS has very strong ties with top consulting firms through faculties, admission and the consulting club. As a result, you get to know pretty quickly what the value proposition of each firm is and you can leverage multiple resources to prepare for the case interview (case mock up interviews, workshops with experts, coffee chats with recruiters, etc.).
Accepted: What do you have lined up career-wise now that you’ve graduated?
Anthony: Before starting for real at Bain & Company in September, I am currently working with two French HBS classmates to launch a startup in the mobile payment industry in Europe.
Accepted: Do you have any advice for some of our applicants who will be applying to HBS?
Anthony: I read once that HBS applicants should both “Fit In & Stand Out“…I would recommend any serious applicant to focus at least 2/3 of his or her preparation on the “Stand Out” part because this is how you succeed! HBS knows pretty rapidly if you are intellectually capable but it is much harder to see through most applicants’ essays their personality but this is what truly matters. HBS is mostly looking for impact and leadership so try to frame most of your stories around those themes by showing how differently you approach issues and what would be your unique contribution to any social group you join. Good luck from Paris!
For specific advice on how to create the best application for HBS, please see Linda’s 2013 Harvard Business School MBA Essay Tips.