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Introduce yourself

My name is Anna Rellama and I hold a Masters of Science degree in Strategic Management from HEC Paris.


I undertook the program from August 2016 to July 2017 and was a recipient of the Eiffel Excellence Scholarship as well as HEC Paris'z scholarship program throughout the duration of my stay.

I have since then been back in the Philippines to work as a senior strategy consultant with Solidiance, an Asia-focused management consulting firm present in 19 countries.


Why did you choose to study in France?

I chose France because of 1) its reputation and quality, 2) its internationality, and 3) its familiarity.

Reputation and quality

Consistently ranked as among the top business schools in France, in Europe, and in the world, HEC Paris is no doubt a well-respected institution and its MSc in Strategic Management program is surely one of its crowning glories

This MSc program specifically has gained the #1 spot globally in The Economist rankings in 2017 (during our year!), as well as the QS Top University Rankings in 2018. Outside of programs, HEC Paris is ranked by the Financial Times as the #2 business school across Europe, just after London Business School.


With 70% of my 108-strong promotion being non-French and from 28 nationalities, the perspectives that I was exposed to inside and outside of class were remarkably eye-opening. Compounded by the effects of equally international professors, classes, and activities such as the study trip to London, our organization of the HEC Business Game (which gathered 38 nationalities), and our participation in the UFLL International Brand Competition in Paris, Rotterdam, and London, studying in France for me was as global as it could potentially get.


London Study trip



Having already studied in France in 2011 for the Junior Term Abroad program of Ateneo de Manila University, I found myself being drawn back to the country for the familiarity and level of comfort that it had offered. I knew that my beginner's French and my initial experience would help me breeze through the adjustment period quickly and easily, and would allow me to focus on what mattered as early as possible - that is, my studies and new friends.


Tell us about your experience as a Filipino studying in France (advantages, challenges)

There weren't a lot of Filipinos in HEC Paris - I was, in fact, the only Filipino on campus outside of the MBA program. This naturally presented some challenges such as when I got homesick and wanted to cook adobo one random night (but couldn't because I did not know how, oops), but these were nothing compared to the opportunity that I had of being completely unleashed and eventually fully immersed in everyone else's cultures.

My mastery of the English language, thanks to my many years of Filipino education, aided me greatly in connecting with people, whether casually or during class presentations. My high energy levels, which I jokingly attributed to the amount of sun that I was exposed to while growing up in the Philippines, eventually landed me the title of being the most hyperactive in class.

And lastly, my being the only Southeast Asian in the program contributed a whole new perspective into our daily discussions. If anything, being a Filipino greatly helped me in relating to those around me better, no matter what their backgrounds were.

How do classes go? Are there specific/unique strategies being used to teach?

With the goal of training us to become effective strategists, our classes were largely case-based and most deliverables were to be delivered in groups. Long gone were the heavi
ly theoretical lectures that once plagued our existence during our bachelor years--in their stead, we had a multitude of complex cases that were extremely practical and based on real-life company problems. We would deliver our homework and projects similar to how we would deliver them while working for consulting fir

True to their goal of real-life training, most of our electives were sponsored and delivered by consulting firms. I remember IBM, BCG, McKinsey & Co., ATKearney, and HTS Consulting each offered a class, while most other consulting and industry giants such as Unilever, Alibaba, Amazon, Accenture, EY, Rolls Royce, etc. were made accessible through company visits and other short-term certificates (i.e. the Leadership Certificate program that I took, as sponsored by spirits giant Pernod Ricard).


Graduation with my Leadership Certificate group 


How does a French education help advance your career?

The quality exposure and people, I believe, really upped and improved my ability to thrive and survive in the consulting world. In such a short amount of time, I have gained a lot of experience in delivering quality work under pressure, effective time management, goal-oriented execution, and stakeholder management; and all these I see very clearly in how I perform my work as Senior Consultant in Solidiance. Additionally, I've gained one strong and global HEC Paris alumni network that promises a smaller world every time.


Share with us a memorable moment (projects, achievements, highlights, etc) during your stay in France

Imagine creating something that was utterly disruptive and global, connecting some of the best students and the best firms over 2 amazing and smooth event days on campus. That, after 8 grueling months of preparation; 8 months of weekly meetings; 8 months of ups and downs and frustrations left and right.

Imagine the relief and the fulfillment, when in the end, 150+ students from 57 universities and 38 nationalities came to HEC Paris for 2 days of business cases--business cases that are sponsored by Schneider Electric, Bain & Co., Earlybird VC, Klépierre, Gameloft, and IBM no less. This achievement, which I share with the rest of the HEC Business Game 2017 team, is perhaps one of my most fulfilling during that year in France.

During the early parts of my MSc program, I joined a few friends of mine in the organizing team of the HEC Business Game - that is, on top of our usual class projects, thesis work, and other extra-curricular activities (during that time, I worked part-time for 10 weeks for Stallergenes Greer and I also participated in the UFLL International Brand Competition first as Team HEC, then as Team France, then as Team Europe as we advanced to the global finals). I joined as Secretary-General and was in charge of making sure that all teams were on schedule with their targets. We had about 25 team members from different programs, schedules, years of studying, and nationalities, divided into 5 teams. One can only imagine how much of a challenge it was to make everyone aligned across all points - it required a lot of grit, a lot of patience, and a lot of persistence. Yet, together, we made it. And it was nothing short of awesome.


Thank you, Campus France, for helping make this possible.


Team France winning European Finals