The Role of the Leader is About Developing Everyone’s Potential to the Fullest

An Interview with Clément Pimor, recently admitted to Harvard Business School

Tell us about your non-business background?

My background might seem a bit unusual for an MBA candidate applying to a top business school. I specialised in philosophy of science – I even obtained a Masters degree in cognitive sciences – and I started teaching philosophy to undergraduate students as a lecturer at La Sorbonne.

What was it like working for the former Prime Minister of France, Dominique de Villepin?

I have always been extremely interested in politics and political philosophy, but I had never really considered taking a job in that field. My main interest was research and academia. I first discovered Dominique de Villepin when he delivered a speech at the United Nations Security Council in 2003, and have been an admirer of him since then. So when I was asked to join Dominique de Villepin’s staff in 2005, it was quite a surprise for me. I had not studied political sciences and had never worked in a government department, and my knowledge of the legislative process was somewhat limited. But I spent extra time studying constitutional and administrative law and learned from my new colleagues. Soon enough, my efforts paid off and a few months after starting, the chief of staff gave me my first important speech to write. I worked for Dominique de Villepin until the President Nicolas Sarkozy was elected President.

Why did you choose to do an MBA at this point in your career?

I want to design a career that combines my interest in science and research with my taste for entrepreneurship. My long term goal is to start up a biotech company. To achieve this goal, I need first to acquire the business tools I currently lack. I believe the Harvard Business School is the best place for me to do so. Harvard’s general management focus will give me a broad perspective on all aspects of running a business. It will teach me how to handle the countless issues managers must face in a world of fierce commercial competition. I also feel that the case-study method is the best way for me to acquire these skills. I can study the theory in textbooks by myself.

What was the hardest part of the application process?

Writing the essays was difficult. In one question, for example, I was asked to discuss an experience that highlighted my strengths and weaknesses as a leader. I decided to talk about a particularly gifted student of mine whose behaviour in class was preventing me from seeing the larger picture. And all the other students were feeling left behind. In turning that situation around, I realised that the role of a leader is about developing everyone’s potential to the fullest and setting the right dynamics for the group as a whole.

What advice would you give to other MBA applicants?

I would urge them to focus on the essays and not to worry about topping up their GMAT scores. Of course, you need to have a good score, but 10 or 20 points will not make that much of a difference. It is the essays that count; this is where you can really give a sense of who you are as a person and why you want to pursue an MBA. The time you spend with your MBA coach discussing what your values are and what you want to do with your life is time well spent.

Clémant Primor, France, recently admitted to Harvard MBA

Specialised in philosophy of science, Clement obtained a Masters degree in cognitive sciences and started teaching philosophy to undergraduate students as a lecturer at La Sorbonne. Clement finally joined the political field and wrote the speeches for thr Prime Minister of France.

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