From HEC Paris to a Google Job: 5 Questions With Development Exec Ashley Bienvenu

HEC Google

This article is sponsored by the HEC Paris MBA. Learn more the program.

HEC Paris has long been considered an elite school. Indeed, of the 40 largest, publicly traded companies in France, nearly a dozen have CEOs or managing directors who are HEC alumni.

Accordingly, HEC is ranked alongside European powerhouses like INSEAD and London Business School, standing fourth in the QS Global 200 business schools rankings for Europe.

The highly-selective program retains an intimate scale, enrolling around 200 students each class – half the number of London Business School’s MBA cohort, for example.

There is a distinctly international dimension to its MBA: nearly 90% of its students come from outside of France and Paris is home to the largest concentration of multinational companies in continental Europe. In their latest employment report, the two top recruiters were Amazon (who offered spots to nine) and Google.

We recently caught up with one of HEC’s success stories, alumna Ashley Bienvenu. Bienvenu grew up in a suburb of New Orleans and attended university at Rhodes College in Tennessee. After graduation, she worked in marketing and business development as a content marketer for a luxury tour operator and the director of a Canadian comparison-shopping engine, before earning her MBA from HEC Paris in 2014.

Today she’s employed by Google, which in December topped Glassdoor’s list of the 50 Best Places to work. Although the best Google jobs rarely require an MBA, Bienvenu explains how the degree helps her as a partner development executive in strategic global partnerships at the tech company.

What drew you to HEC Paris? Did you spend time in France before considering the school?

I had been living in France for over five years prior to beginning at HEC Paris. I had an amazing experience there, and, for reasons relating to my own personal development, I knew that I was not ready to leave the country. However, I also wanted to further myself professionally in a way that would be impactful outside of France. I was drawn to HEC Paris not only for the caliber of its education, but also for its diversity – my own international experience up to that point had proven that exposing oneself to cultures and mindsets different than my own was a precious learning experience.

Today most of HEC’s MBA students come from other countries, and the majority of HEC MBA placements are also in companies outside of France. How did the school prepare you for a global career?

Though my role after the MBA took me back to the United States, I had offers in countries across Europe. My current position is actually also the first time I have worked in the United States, as my entire professional career had been in France, so in a way this is something of a step towards expanding my global career as well. Outside of the positions themselves, the diversity of the school allowed me to open my mind to different business cultures as well as an expansive network across the globe.

Tell me a little about your work at Google and what drew you to them?

I have always been a technology junkie. Prior to HEC Paris, I was working in a tech startup, and throughout my journey during the MBA, I discovered that my heart truly rested within this domain. I was drawn to Google for what they stand for – creating technology that will impact people's daily lives in a meaningful way. Google is much more than gadgets and technological trends; they go beyond and see the full power of what technology can offer. I wanted to be a part of something that dynamic.

My role at Google is to aid mobile applications in their monetization strategy. It requires an understanding of their business needs and goals, as well as of Google’s complex product offerings, to find synergies and provide a solution that will act as a viable business model for their companies.

Google tops the list of theUniversum Top 100 Ideal MBA Employee Ranking; evidently lots of MBAs would like to work at Google. Still, in the past it was perceived as a place where an MBA was not essential to success. Do you feel the degree is valued at your company and how has the education HEC Paris provided helped you at your work place?

I believe that an MBA is what you make of it. Do I need an MBA to perform my core role within Google? No. But do I use the skills and learnings from HEC Paris to try and excel at what I do as opposed to just deliver at expectations? Absolutely. Google is a company that is filled with incredibly impressive people – top performers from all across the globe. Every Googler has drive and a thirst for success. In order to stand out in such a place, you need to go above and beyond in your role and really make a tangible impact on the business. The education I received at HEC Paris has provided me the tools to think about issues more strategically and provide a new insight to shape the business in which I work.

Increasing numbers of MBAs are going to work at tech companies. Many hope to someday start their own businesses. Where do you see yourself in 10 years – have you considered running your own business? In a general sense, do you feel your education cultivated an entrepreneurial spirit?

I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit, and I think that HEC Paris is a place that fosters that innovation and supports MBAs that desire to go out on their own. I, myself, was employee number three at what turned out to be the largest comparison-shopping engine across four countries. I adore the startup culture, as it requires an ownership that many large companies do not give.

That being said, in 10 years, I can still see myself at Google. Despite our size, we foster the same collaboration and innovation that is required in entrepreneurship. There is a sense of responsibility and independence that allows Googlers to own their role, without feeling stifled by hierarchy or red tape. Ultimately, I look for challenge in my career – intellectually and professionally – and a dynamism that keeps me on my toes. Whether that is with a tech giant like Google or in the framework of my own business, for me, is just a detail. Regardless of that context, I do feel that my MBA has cultivated this spirit.

This article is sponsored by the HEC Paris MBA.

Written by John Bankston

Content writer John began his career as an investigative reporter and is a prolific educational writer alongside his work for us, authoring over 100 nonfiction books for children and young adults since 2000.

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