The EMBA platform to cultivate new mentor relationships

When Priyanka Narasimhan decided it was time to take her career down a different path, she knew that she needed to draw on the experience of others.

The EMBA platform to cultivate new mentor relationships
Mentors can provide valuable feedback and impart new skills. Photo: HEC Paris

“I was working in pharmaceuticals, in research and development,” says Priyanka, a 36-year-old biologist who lives and works near Cambridge, England.

“What I wanted to do was move away from research and towards the commercialisation of products. While preparing for the career change I quickly realised that I had several gaps in my skills – business skills was one of them.”

While studying an Executive MBA at HEC Paris as part of her plan to change career path, Priyanka realised she needed mentors – people who could help her develop.

“I remember trying to prepare an important presentation. Because I am a scientist, I was immersed in data, that’s all I could see. I was wondering how to make my point in a way that stuck. Those around me, who worked in the luxury sector, looked at the data and could see a story.”

Priyanka’s colleagues, who would become her mentors as her EMBA studies progressed, helped her to create presentations that engaged others and brought them around to her point of view.

“I think the mentoring I received from my more experienced colleagues at HEC Paris helped me more effectively make my case when presenting to different departments and stakeholders.”

An EMBA from HEC Paris not only gives you the cutting-edge skillset to transform your career, but can help develop mentors that will guide you in life

Priyanka Narasimhan drew on the experience of her mentors and colleagues to shift careers. Photo: Supplied

Priyanka is not alone in seeing these benefits. Studies show that career professionals, regardless of their career level, benefit extraordinarily from having mentors – people whom they can consult with and seek advice from regularly.

Research conducted in 2006 for Sun Microsystems found that career professionals within their organisation who had a mentor were five times more likely to be promoted than their peers without one. Furthermore, both mentees and mentors were 20 percent more likely to have received a raise than their peers.

It’s not just mid-level career professionals who benefit: According to a survey by the Harvard Business Review in 2015, 84 percent of CEOs questioned felt that their mentors had helped them avoid costly mistakes and that they had become proficient in their roles faster. Another 69 percent stated that their mentors helped them make better decisions.

The classmates who would become her mentors would provide concrete support not only during her Executive MBA, but as she began a new role as a program manager for Novartis.

“When I was preparing for interviews, for example, I practised with more senior and experienced colleagues. They were there to give input. The skills that they passed on will be valuable throughout my life.”

“Whenever I have doubts, even now I can ping an email and tell them that I have a problem that I need help with.

“When I started the new role I reached out to (a mentor) and told them I was preparing to map all my stakeholders as part of a 90-day plan. I asked them how they would go about it, and they gave me some very valuable ideas.

“I think mentors can really help guide you through undertaking new and challenging roles. They help me understand the functions and priorities of different departments.

“Another perspective is, I’m a first-generation immigrant. I’m a female. I need to see people like me in leadership roles, and I need to connect with them and understand how they navigate through the corporate world.”

Many of the mentors that Privanka still draws upon are part of the HEC Paris EMBA alumni networks; she sees a wealth of industries and levels of experience represented both within the alumni cohort and faculty.

“My EMBA was such a great platform to cultivate mentor relationships. You’re thrown into a world that is so different from your own industry. You are constantly presented with fresh perspectives and a wealth of prior experience.

“I have a few degrees and I’ve been to several universities, but HEC Paris was different because I was constantly learning, not only from my teachers but those around me.

“I continue to access my network, with mentors that come in different shapes and forms. They are my teachers and classmates. I have an established rapport with them. I’m comfortable discussing where my career is at with them.”

“I think an EMBA is essential for anyone interested in going beyond their sector in terms of learning. HEC Paris is utterly brilliant for that.”

Priyanka’s future not only involves an exciting new career at Novartis, but exciting possibilities developed during her EMBA project. One innovative project involves the creation of artificial devices to test chemicals and cosmetics ethically. As she does, she will be offering advice to those in her footsteps.

“I will be making myself available to those seeking a mentor, looking for advice. You don’t want to surround yourself only with people like you. You need a good balance.

“You want to have people who challenge you in terms of skillset and culture, as well as those you can already relate to.

“I look forward to being a part of that.”

Discover how HEC Paris can connect you with the mentors you need for a successful career move.

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Which towns and cities are the safest in France?

France's interior ministry has released its latest crime statistics, giving a better idea of which parts of France might be considered the safest.

Which towns and cities are the safest in France?

France’s interior ministry has published updated crime statistics across France with data from 2023, and in response, French daily Le Parisien came up with a ranking for the safest towns and cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants across the country.

The publication based its score for each town on the rates of 10 different crimes listed by France’s interior ministry, which were split into four sub-sections: home burglaries, violent assaults, theft and petty theft, as well as a score for what it referred to as “the living environment” (drug trafficking and usage, as well as ‘deliberate property destruction and damage’).

1. Cherbourg-en-Cotentin

The city of Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, located in the Manche département in north-western France, had the lowest amount of crime overall, ranking in first place.

As of 2021, the city was home to 77,808 people, and it is famous for its Cité de la Mer (“city of the sea”) maritime museum.

In terms of home burglaries, the city has seen the number double over the last two years, but it still remains well below the national average with approximately three burglaries per 1,000 inhabitants as of 2023. 

In comparison, the city of Paris recorded 8.6 burglaries per 1,000 homes, and the national average as of 2022 was 5.8 per 1,000 homes.

In an interview with Le Parisien, the mayor of Cherbourg-en-Cotentin credited their strong results by stating that “there is also a healthy dialogue between the municipal police, the national police and the justice system.”

2. Boulogne-Billancourt

After Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, the French daily ranked Boulogne-Billancourt, a suburb to the south-west of Paris, in second place.

Generally, the wealthy suburbs in the western and southern parts of the Paris region faired well.

Alongside Boulogne-Billancourt, six other locations in the Paris region were also listed in the top 10 safest places, including Courbevoie in fourth place, Versailles in fifth place, Antony in sixth place, Clamart in seventh place, Levallois-Perret in eighth place, and Maisons-Alfort in ninth place.

3. Ajaccio in Corsica

The Corsican capital came in third place, based on Le Parisien’s rankings.

The port city is notably where Napoleon Bonaparte was born, and it is home to his ancestral home – the Bonaparte house, now a museum.

As of 2020, the population was 72,647. 

After Ajaccio, most of the other places that were ranked in the top 10 were towns in the Paris suburbs.

Courbevoie came in fourth place, Versailles in fifth place, Antony in sixth place, Clamart in seventh place, Levallois-Perret in eighth place, and Maisons-Alfort in ninth place.

In 10th place came Cagnes-sur-Mer in the Alpes-Maritimes département in southern France. After Cherbourg and Ajaccio it was the only other location outside of the Paris region to make the top 10.

Outside of Paris several medium-sized cities – namely Annecy (14th place) in south-eastern France, Montauban (15th place)near Toulouse in south-western France, and Vannes (18th place) in the western region Brittany – came in the top 20.

What about the larger cities?

France’s largest cities – Paris, Marseille, and Lyon – ranked significantly lower, coming in 103rd, 116th and 94th place respectively.

Le Parisien did not list a single city with more than 200,000 inhabitants in the top 30 – the best was Strasbourg, which came in 41st place.

After that, Nice (55th) and Nantes (59th) performed best for large urban areas.

It is worth noting that crime in large cities tends to look differently from that in rural areas or small and medium-sized cities.

Generally, crime in smaller cities tended to be less related to assault and battery or by violent theft, but they were more exposed to home burglaries.

In larger cities, theft and robbery – both violent and non-violent – were more common, but even this metric depended based on the city.

Paris, which gets millions of tourists per year, topped the charts nationally for non-violent theft (ie pickpocketing), while Marseille and Lyon had comparatively high levels of vehicle theft.

And in terms of sexual violence, the reported rate varied little based on city-size.

What is the general crime picture in France?

Based on the 2023 report by the interior ministry, crime has increased. However, when it comes to global rankings, the country still performs better than both the United States and United Kingdom.

Homicides went up by five percent in 2023, though this is smaller than the nine percent growth seen in 2022.

Meanwhile drug trafficking charges increased by four percent, which is comparatively smaller than the 14 percent increase in 2022 and 38 percent increase in 2021.

Assault and battery went up by seven percent in 2023, and sexual violence reports also increased by eight percent.

How to look at crime data yourself

They have also updated the interactive map of the country, which can be used by anyone interested in comparing crime rates between different départements in France.

You can access here.

A screenshot of the interactive map with data from France’s interior ministry.

When looking at the map, you can find information based on13 different types of crimes (indicateur) – including home robberies (cambriolage de logement), drug trafficking (trafic de stupéfiants), and sexual violence (violence sexuelle).

The map also allows you to select specific areas (communes), as well as the year you want to look at – going back to 2016.