My name is Gilles Oubuih and I’m an EC student at HBS. I’m French (by my mother) Moroccan (by my father) and grew up in both countries prior to going to Essec School in Paris. Prior to HBS, I worked for four years in M&A advisory and spent seven years in retail, across Europe and Asia. 

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I wanted to go to business school as I hoped my roles would evolve from individual contributor, to team manager, to stakeholder with wider influence. I also wanted to explore different business areas besides investment banking and retail. Finally, I’d reached a level where I needed to step up my game and learn a new skill set. 

Going to HBS was a no brainer: the general management curriculum was exactly what I was looking for. Truth is I had been working with US competitors’ firms, and I wanted to get exposure to the US competitive landscape. I applied in Round 2 and was admitted. 

My last job pre-HBS was as an executive director, directly reporting to the CEO of a $13bn business. After arriving at HBS, the curriculum revealed to me how little I knew and how much I had to learn. It has taught me to listen, to be really bipartisan (rather than advocate), and to consider solutions that are outside the box. 

HBS has turned me upside down. It started with changing my relationship to myself—getting in touch with my inner values and understanding more about who I really am and what I really care about. Building this “inner peace” has allowed me to have different approach to others: friends, family, colleagues, but also society. 

I have strongly developed my ability to listen and have found I now interact more smoothly with others. Last Christmas, with my parents, after an intense talk about my dad’s recurring health issues, my mum looked at me and told me: “you’ve really changed”.

My classmates in particular have changed how I think and experience the world. Hearing their achievements and seeing their strengths has both humbled me and made me proud. My biggest takeaway is really the idea that all perspectives are welcome at HBS, and that one should listen carefully to other people’s points. They are not only valuable but also provide an incredible diversity of perspective.