Could you please introduce yourself?
My name is Maria Benkhadra, I was born and raised in Casablanca, Morocco. I graduated from the Mathematics and Economics double major of the Bachelor of Science at École Polytechnique. I am now pursuing the MiM-Grande École program at HEC Paris.
Could you please tell us more about what you’re currently studying?
The Grande Ecole program, through its structure, allows me to first sharpen my managerial and economic knowledge with a balanced education between theory and practice, by following classes in Marketing, Strategy, Finance, Accounting, gaining exposure to all the main aspects of a firm. Outside of the core courses I have to follow, I am taking an elective one called « Private equity and strategy consulting in the MENA region », giving me the chance to understand how not only through my culture I could engage critical change in this region. I will then hopefully earn the keys to shape my orientation and specialize in finance for my Master 2.
What made you choose your current university/program?
Pursuing my academic journey at HEC was the ideal fount towards my ambitions. I am continuously immersed in a network of opportunities, while opening my mind to the corporate reality. Many professionals come to give lessons and share their experience. In addition, the pedagogy is often based on case studies, namely problems posed by companies on the basis of real situations.
What skills/knowledge gained during the Bachelor of Science have you been using in your current program?
École Polytechnique has been a decisive step for my future aspirations, providing me with a strong scientific basis. With a double major in Mathematics and Economics, I acquired a rigorous thinking methodology to solve complex problems, having the issue of scarcity and the desire for efficiency in mind.
What memories do you have of your time spent at l'X and in the Bachelor program?
My adventure in the L’ORE without any doubt! I had the opportunity to enter the world of leadership by being actively engaged as the first general secretary of the board of the Bachelor student association. As part of an international team of students, we drove the life on campus addressing students’ needs through innovation and collaboration with the school’s administration. We defined what makes us stand out as a student association beyond expectation, establishing lasting traditions and involving other programs of the school. One of the biggest challenges was to gain valuable visibility in the school community, allowing Bachelor students to thrive and bring their unique and diverse characteristics. The relations we have built within the team were always a source of synergy, pushing each other to aim for higher. A rather challenging but very formative experience!
What are your ambitions for the future?
In the past years, consumption has evolved towards a more sustainable and socially responsible trend, primarily through the activism of millennials. I believe that introducing the idea of responsible investment in the financial world is inevitably important, mainly by focusing on financial products that reflect strong values of sustainability and social inclusion. Moreover, there is a growing body of research that shows that the companies that integrate environmental, social and governance issues into how they operate can benefit materially from lower risks, lower costs and the ability to deliver higher returns. I now realize what impact I could have by getting involved in financial companies to promote and work on sustainable investing. Indeed, by mixing strong analytical skills and problem-solving abilities with the reality of financial markets, I aspire to maintain long-term financial performance by looking for new ways to integrate the sustainability question.
Any advice to current Bachelor students when deciding about the pursuit of their studies?
Keep an open mind. When we combine the things we care about with the skills and resources at our disposal, we get passion with excellence. Be curious, meet people, ask questions. There's nothing you can't do if you put your mind to it, stay true to who you are and to what you’re passionate about and you’ll do great.