HEC Paris Business School: A Systemic Education Fraud

What lies behind the curtain of one of the most prestigious B-schools in Europe

HEC Paris

"Education is an Imposed Ignorance" - Noam Chomsky

HEC Paris established in 1881 is considered by many one of the best Business Schools (Ecole de Commerce) in France and by some the best in Europe and the world. It is established, managed and financed by Paris Chamber de Commerce (Chambre de commerce et d’industrie/CCI Paris-Ile de France) with the purpose of providing France with the brightest brigades of elites who will be in charge of the French economy, banking, businesses and international economic or business relations. In 1964 the school moved its campus location to Jouy en Josas, a suburb of Paris from its original location in rue Tocqueville, Paris. President Charles de Gaulle inaugurated this event which shows the importance and greatness of this elite school. 

Since its inception, HEC Paris has been producing prominent businessmen, politicians, ministers, CEOs, CFOs, presidents, chiefs of international organisations, besides renowned figures in the media, art and sport. To name a few: DSK (Dominique Strauss-Kahn) – former Head of IMF, Francois Hollande (Former French President), billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault (CEO of Kering, President of holding company ‘Groupe Artemis’) whose net worth is approximately USD 33 billions and husband to famous American actress Salma Hayek. Inside the country itself some famous profiles include: Bruno Le Maire ( Economic and Finance Minister), members of Macron’s political party ‘La Republique En Marche’ (Benjamin Grievaux, Agnes Pannier-Runacher, Amelie de Montchalin, Stanislas Guerini, Cedric O, etc), Valerie Pecresse, Claire Chazal, Francois Asselineau, Florian Philippot, Frederic Lordon, Rachida Dati, Francois Baroin, Pierre Kosciusko Morizet, etc. 

Hailed by the local and national media such as Le Figaro, Le Point and L’Etudiant as their annual “Classement des grandes écoles de commerce” or rankings of the best “Grandes Ecoles” business schools in the country always put HEC Paris at the top. Complimented with grandiose hyperbolised statement such as in this article of the ‘Challenges’ that claimed that “HEC Paris est la plus prestigieuse et puissante des écoles de commerce post-prépa française” (HEC Paris is the most prestigious and powerful business school…), nothing could be further from the truth when we observe the quality of its education and graduates. Or articles such as “Les Écoles De Commerce Championnes De L’Entrepreneuriat” (Business Schools that Champion Entrepreneurship) and “De plus en plus de créateurs d’entreprise à HEC” (More and more enterprises’ founders in HEC), it is conspicuous that HEC Paris is the French media darling. 

In the venerable international media such as the Financial Times and The Economist, HEC Paris has never failed to land on the top of their MBA (Master of Business Administration) rankings. HEC gets to be the king of ‘Ecole de Commerce’ in France in comparison to its counterparts such as ESSEC, Edhec and ESCP who probably look up to HEC with envy because they can never seem to be able to sit on the throne. 

Besides those marvelous MBA rankings, news articles such as “THE Alma Mater Index 2017: who educates the global business elite?”and “2019 MBA & Business School Rankings| Which MBA?” only propelled further the grandiose illusion of what supposedly the most reputable elitist business school in France and probably the world. As a result, on the international arena HEC Paris is seen as an esteemed European Business school.

It is undisputed that HEC Paris Business School reigns in France and holds a special ‘niche’ internationally. But what secrets lie behind the seemingly successful shining star of this French Business School? Is it truly because of its distinguished programs, curriculums, professors, researchers and its cut above the rest quality of education as it claimed?

The discerning eyes and a closer look into inside the establishment, find that this institution that claimed itself as an education institution is not really about education but about money. It is pure business just like other companies with the goal of maximised profit. As many other prestigious universities it works as a propaganda arm of the ruling elites, corporations, banks and the military industrial complex. Its objective is not to educate the bright with potential young generation but to indoctrinate them to become the next army of servants to the ruling elites and corporations. 

The graduates from these schools are shaped to execute the ruling elites and corporations’ agendas in the world. With the motto “Greed is Good” consciously or unconsciously ingrained in their mind and spirit, they swarm all over the world destroying the world’s economy, the planet and humanity to the benefit of only a few super rich and powerful ruling elites. Sadly, they refuse or too blind to see that they actually destroying themselves and the lives of their kin and future generation only for a short-lived period of economic and social welfare that their grandchildren might not live to experience, one way or another. 

The MBA Rankings Fraud

HEC Paris Ranked 1 Worldwide in FT

One of the best ways or strategies to attract customers or paying students to the very profitable big business of Business Schools is through marketing and propaganda. One of them is through the “well-perceived” Business School (MBA) Rankings from prestigious International Media such as the The Financial Times, The Economist, Bloomberg, Forbes and many others. The higher the ranking, the more expensive business school can charge its tuition fee. 

Competition to be listed in the top rankings of these ‘prestigious’ international media is fierce that some might do anything it takes to be on the top rankings. After all this is profit driven business, even though in the education sector, some stripped of moral and profession integrity will do whatever it takes to be the winner who takes the most of the ‘pie’ in the for-profit education industry. 

Media and journalists that are supposed to work as agent of control of the government and society relinquish their notable profession to the temptation of money. Corruption is ubiquitous in our modern society, almost everything can be bought with money. 

HEC Paris definitely fully understood the concept of marketing and propaganda, after all it claimed as the best business school in marketing major. And it was born in France, one of the best countries in terms of marketing propaganda that it can be said the birth country of luxury brands such as Hermes, Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton, etc. Those luxury brands can charge humongous premium margin price on top of their products’ costs by labelling or branding those products as luxury. The French are the master of marketing propaganda, how to make a brand of a product to be a luxury brand sellable to the highest possible price by selling the intangible illusions, dreams and prestige to the foolish masses with the most shallow vain spirits. This French luxury industry gave birth to one of the world richest billionaires and French ruling elites Bernard Arnault who owns LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy), Dior, Chanel, etc. The Arnault family also owns Carrefour, news media and other multinational corporations. His net worth is more than USD 137 billion which makes him the second richest man on earth after Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon. 

You can even say “Everything French sells”, including business school HEC Paris. It is all this magical bubble of dream illusion that sends everyone to dream world for anything that relates to Paris or France. 

This brilliant marketing strategy to be on the top rankings first came to the cunning mind of former HEC Paris’ Dean, one with the longest tenure to date so far Mr. Bernard Ramanantsoa. According to the book “Grandes Ecoles, La Fin d’une Exception Francaise” (French Great Schools, The End of French Exceptionalism) written by Thomas Lebegue and Emmanuelle Walter, Bernard Ramanantsoa approached and lobbied Della Bradshaw, a Financial Times (FT) journalist at that time in charge of Business School Rankings and who also wrote many articles relating to business schools.

Pages from the book Grandes Ecoles - La Fin d'une Exception Francaise
Pages from the book “Grandes Ecoles - La Fin d’une Exception Francaise”

The book also mentioned that business schools with money dedicate special team called the “mediaplanners” to deal with the Anglo-Saxon media to try to influence their schools rankings. These “mediaplanners” watch closely the changes in the criteria for business school rankings and organise meetings between Business School Dean or Director with English journalists.

Ramanantsoa managed to convince Della Bradshaw to maintain the ranking criteria that are beneficial to HEC Paris. Bernard Ramanantsoa even did a ‘breakthrough’ (cassé la baraque) with Della Bradshaw from Financial Times, something that hasn’t been done or imaginable before. Since the Financial Times’ rankings only based on MBA and that France doesn’t really have this type of diploma, he successfully proposed a new ranking creation for Master in Management (MIM). 

Shortly after this aggressive lobbying dated from 2004, HEC Paris successfully obtained the Financial Times Top Rankings and its rankings have never fallen since. In 2007, there were 6 French Schools in the Top 10 European Schools. Among them is HEC Paris who has never lost its first place since 2005. Since then the French national and local media have blindly glorified HEC Paris and its Director/Dean without ever verifying the rankings’ criteria. The marketing propaganda through the media has continued ever since. 

To show the depth level of corruption, conflict of interest and the revolving door between business schools and the media, Della Bradshaw is listed as a member of HEC Paris’ International Board of Director.

Screenshot Taken From HEC Paris' website

The media that issue school rankings such as the Financial Times, The Economist and others failed to exercise independence and to do their duty as true journalist and as agent of control of these institutions. Instead the media and business schools work together to defraud the potential clients or future business schools’ students and the public. 

As for the rankings agencies of business schools (they are not big media such as FT or The Economist but they only specialise on education and school rankings) such as Poets and Quants, QS and others they can not be trusted as well. How these ranking agencies can give independent rankings to Business Schools when their income revenue depends on the very business schools they are reviewing and giving rankings? This kind of fraud is pervasive in our society, it is rigged to the core. Just look at the Big Four in the Accounting Audit Services Firms (used to be Big 5 before the Enron fraud) or the Rating Agencies for bonds (that caused the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the 2008 financial crisis). 

The conflict of interest, corruption and fraud are omnipresent in our world from finance to politics and education. “Greed is Good” and “Ignorance is Strength”, they say. 

The Rampant Racism, Sexism, Homophobia and Harassment Culture

There have been much rumours and scandals surrounding HEC Paris for decades but nothing can be truly attested until recently. Rumours such as party gone wild that led to orgy, married professors sleeping with young female students, or even criminal behaviour such as rape. The existence of wild parties can be verified but things further than that can’t be fully confirmed. Even though there were this suspicion and eerie feeling that have never dissipated about HEC Paris. 

In 2018, for the first time the mainstream media widely published articles about Anti-Semite and Anti-Chinese racism in HEC Paris. Following that in 2020, Iban Rais journalist from Mediapart published a shocking revelation report of a 3 month investigation about the long ongoing and inherent sexual harassment, racism, sexism, homophobia in top business schools in France that includes ESSEC and EDHEC besides HEC Paris.

The investigation report confirmed some of the rumours and scandals that have long time riddled HEC Paris. It was started with this disgraced website called ‘Sortie Vauhallan’ created since 2003 and shut down in February 2019 after the school finally succumbed to the relentless pressure from the students and the media. This site was an online bullying journal where it posted photos of its victims and mocked, ridiculed and harassed them by racist, sexist, homophobic insults or remarks. Some female students were sexually harassed and humiliated by hostile vulgar words and they were made target for sexual predator in campus. Any student can be victim and this website was open to the public and indexed on the search engine. The editors of this site are unknown but the editor in chief is known and chosen every year by its anonymous editors. The existence of this website was widely known by students, professors, staff, directors and school management. 

The parties organised by student association also promote racism and violence towards women. “Open bar if you come wearing no bra and pour half glass of drink on your white t-shirt”, or free alcoholic drinks for female students from 9.30 until 11 pm and male students are admitted into the campus bar once those female students are drunk and ready to be sexually assaulted. Many allegations arise such as unwanted touch on private body parts, forced kisses and even rape. This type of event or behaviour is the normal norm in HEC Paris, unbeknownst to the outsiders and to the insiders a vow of secrecy is obliged.

This racism, sexual harassment and homophobia apparently have existed since a long time ago and it is a widely known and accepted practice in HEC Paris that it has become a culture. This is a systemic or institutionalised social violence especially toward the minority that is granted by the school under the cloak of embracing diversity and tolerance.

Women are objectified as sexual commodity and treated as second class citizens to their fellow men through the ‘allowed’ and ‘normalised’ rampant sexual harassment. The dignity of these women and other races are violated and trampled on as they are treated as inferior human beings. Under the facade of one of the best business schools, women are not treated equal with men and lies extreme violence and racism toward minority which includes the non-white, non-French nationality and women. 

It is a system that uphold White and Male Supremacy and mould students into accepting these values and if they don’t, coerce them into submission. Women are trained, shaped, forced to accept its imposed position as second class citizens and as sexual commodity. It is a system of indoctrination, control and coercion to maintain the West Hegemony, White Supremacy, French Exceptionalism and Male Superiority. It is also a system that legitimise, normalise and give impunity to violence and harassment towards women.

This extreme misogynistic and violent environment is the perfect breeding ground to generate the next Harvey Weinstein, Roman Polanski, DSK (Dominique Strauss-Kahn), Gerald Darmanin, etc. This education system helps shape the making of individuals who are ignorant, depraved, sexual predator, bully and give them the impunity for their obscene and sometimes criminal behaviour. These individuals will later on have tremendous influence and hold powerful positions in government, politics, economics, media, arts, etc and they are immoral and protected from (sometimes even rewarded by) their actions. Therefore to fix our broken system in democracy, politics, economics, justice, social and to bring about a true systemic change, we also need to change or fully reform our education system. 

HEC Paris As a Military Industrial Complex and Corporate Propaganda Arm Hence an Indoctrination Institution

The main duty of any school or education institution is to educate and teach students for the purpose of creating generation of independent and critical thinkers. Through its unethical and dubious partnership with the weapons and arms industry, corporations, big banks, big consulting firms, and big media HEC Paris has given up its independence and its honourable role as independent agent of education serving the greater public interest.

In January 2019, HEC Paris and Ecole de Guerre (School of War) formed partnership. HEC Paris also partnered with arms industry “Ariane Group” (a joint venture of Airbus and Safran) that produces missiles among other aerospace, defence and security products. HEC partners with banks such as BNP Paribas, Societe Generale, Credit Agricole, Bred Banque Populaire, and Natixis. Partnered with one of the big French insurance companies AXA. Partnership with financial service companies such as French-German group Oddo Bhf and private equity firm Antin. HEC Paris also partnered with some big consultancy firms: McKinsey, BCG, Bain, PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG, Ernst & Young, Accenture, Capgemini and Mazars. With big multimedia and advertising companies such as Vivendi, Publicis Groupe, BETC and international law firms Allen Overy and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. 

Other corporation partners include: Loreal, Danone, LVMH (owned by Bernard Arnault), Hermes, Puma Energy & Kering (both owned by billionaire and HEC Paris’ alumnus Francois-Henri Pinault mentioned previously in the beginning of this essay), CMA CGM, Schneider Electric, Sodexo, Veolia, Michelin, Porsche, Volkswagen, Renault, Atos, Bouygues, Unibail Rodamco Westfield, GS1 and Webhelp (one of the founders of Webhelp is the current President of HEC Paris Alumni).

The list of HEC Paris’ partnership and cooperation with multinational corporations is shown below in slideshow taken from one of its presentations which can also be found in its website. 

Group of Elites: HEC Paris’ Corporate Partnership with Big Multinational Companies and Banks

The image above shows the ‘little world of global dominance’ or ‘group of elites domination’ as it permeates various industries from multinational corporations working in different sectors to big banks, big consulting firms, big media, etc. The HEC’s partnership with big corporations undoubtedly show how much HEC Paris as an education institution has been heavily infiltrated with corporate agenda and interest that block its function as education institution and to perform its duty to truly educate its students. This partnership with corporations filled with conflicting interests endangers its freedom in its teaching and its forming of pedagogy and curriculum. With this partnership with corporations, HEC Paris deviates from its main task which is teaching the truth to graduate independent critical thinking students. 

If truth is taught to these students they might be critical to the involvement of military industrial complex such as Ariane Group and Ecole de Guerre (War School) in war crimes, the pillaging of countries rich with natural resources and human rights violation across the globe. These students might also have a very critical view and protest the unethical behaviour of multinational corporations for the destruction of the planet and environment. They will strongly oppose the role of banks in destroying the global economy, the exploitation and the mass wealth plundering of the people through its printing or creating money out of thin air (technically given the name using complicated jargon as Quantitative Easing). Therefore it is inconceivable and forbidden for school institutions such as HEC Paris to teach the pedagogy of truth as it threatens the dominance and power of its corporation partners, the status quo, the west superpower, and the world ruling elites. 

Pedagogy of Lies and Institution for Indoctrination

Far from creating independent critical thinking students, schools have always throughout history played an institutional role for indoctrination through a system of control and coercion. Quoted from Noam Chomsky’s book titled “Mis-Education”, he said that “Schools are institutions for indoctrination and imposing obedience” and “…whereby students are trained to become “compliant workers, spectorial consumers, and passive citizens”, it necessarily has to create educational structures that anesthetize students’ critical abilities, in order to domesticate social order for its self-preservation.” 

HEC Paris like the mainstream corporate media spews propaganda and teaches pedagogy of lies. It prevents independent critical thinking that might disrupt the social economic order ruled by corporations and the ruling elites. It coerces students to be willing to be indoctrinated. There are things that can not be questioned, and if student dare to ask or challenge the professor, there will be some kind of ‘punishment’. 

HEC Paris will not teach the truth such as that money is created out of thin air and that money is not backed by anything of value. Thus it can’t be called money but it should be called paper money or FIAT money and it is illegal to do forgery, but in our corrupt world it is legal because it is done by the banks.  

HEC Paris can’t teach the truth about what really caused the 2008 financial crisis, the best answer you can get from them is that it was caused by subprime mortgage loan crisis, without ever really explaining what is the meaning of subprime mortgage. This is deliberately done on purpose so students can’t understand the fraud in our financial system. Its professor will teach students that dividend doesn’t enrich the shareholder and that more Quantitative Easing (creating money out of thin air) and Corporation Bailouts (read free money to corporations using taxpayers’ money) are the solutions to the current economic and financial crisis we are facing. 

Cold War will also be brought into the classroom as the West led by USA is trying to maintain its Global Dominance and will crush any country considered enemy that might threaten its superpower such as China or Russia. Therefore in the classrooms ranging from politics course to economic and finance courses, they will be all about crushing and smearing these countries considered as official “enemies” with no regard to fact or truth. 

As an establishment for profit and through its unethical partnership with military industrial complex, banks and corporations, the teaching and curriculum in HEC Paris have to be aligned with the business goals and values of HEC Paris and its partners. The teaching and curriculum have to be proponent of neoliberal capitalism, war and imperialism. This also affects the recruitment of professors, as HEC will recruit professor possessing the aligned political values and will recruit professor from think tank that is pro-war and pro-imperialism such as Rand Corporation. 

Conclusions

From all the major points explained above it is evident that HEC Paris is not an education institution in its real true sense but a for-profit corporation that indoctrinates and imposes obedience serving the power/ruling elites. It doesn’t help contribute to the betterment of the world, society and humanity. It instead perpetuates some of the sickness in our world to this day such as racism, sexism, inequality, poverty, war, imperialism, and exploitation.

HEC Paris has defrauded students with ranking manipulations, indoctrination, pedagogy of lies and abusive treatment. Students as paying customers have neither given consent nor signed any agreement to be indoctrinated and to be treated inhumanely. Students and alumni have never been asked permission from HEC Paris to partner with the military industrial complex and to engage in unethical behaviour or involve in terrorism and war crime abroad. HEC as a for-profit business in the education sector has not shown respect and professional integrity to its customers (students) and ex-customers (alumni). 

Fraud will always get caught. It is just a matter of time before someone finds out. Don’t they (the ranking agencies, FT, school management and Jean Paul Vermes the chairman of HEC Paris Board as a man of a certain age) understand this?

The problems mentioned in this essay are not only reserved to HEC Paris but extend to other business schools and schools in general. As if not for all, some of the issues mentioned also happen in other schools. They are crucial issues in our education system and they need to be addressed as soon as possible for a more humane, more democratic and more just world. To fix our broken political, economic, financial, justice, and social system and for a true systemic change we also need to change or fully reform the education system. 

*The essayist is an alumna of HEC Paris MBA 2010 & Duke University, Fuqua School of Business Exchange Program with concentration in Finance. This credential will not be found on her resume or LinkedIn as she doesn’t want to be associated with the unethical immoral conduct of the school.

Writer's Note: This essay acts as a warning to those thinking of going to business school to pursue higher education. This essay is also a prelude to hopefully a semi-fiction romance novel with the same theme broached from a wider scope from the lens of politics, economics, social, history, etc.

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