My job in higher ed: Jean de Villeneuve, Hult International Business School

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Jean is Sr. Director of Career Development and Corporate Relations – Europe and Global Head of Alumni Relations at Hult International Business School. He tells us how he and his team help Hult students transition from study to employment and how the school stays in touch with its diverse and international alumni.


How would you describe your role at Hult International?


I’m fortunate to have two roles at Hult. Firstly, I support students with their career transition. I lead the career development and corporate relationship team from our London postgraduate campus, covering operations in Europe. 18 months ago we decided to merge the career development and alumni relations departments. As a result, the second role I have is global head of alumni relations. We have 16,000 alumni and counting, and our goal is to ensure the Hult experience doesn’t stop after graduation.


What does a typical day look like? Is there such a thing?


Not a single day has been the same in my four years at Hult. I’m very fortunate to engage with lots of different stakeholders: students, alumni and corporate partners. That makes each day very different. It’s a one-year cycle, but the cycle is very different throughout the year. Hult has been around for about ten years and still growing fast – and you constantly have to face the unexpected. That keeps it exciting.


What are the main challenges you face in your role, and how do you try to overcome them?


One of the main challenges is making sure we don’t lose track of the mission: to support the success of our students in their careers. Hult’s career development roadmap is unique and innovative but there’s a lot to cover in a one-year cycle. It’s very easy for students to get distracted.


On the first day of the programme, I make a deal with the students and tell them if their career is their priority, they need to take ownership of it from day one. It’s then up to us to make sure they don’t lose track of that over the course of the year. If we follow the roadmap and overcome the challenges, it means students are job-ready, interviewing well, confident and in a good position to transition into employment.

Jean de Villeneuve

How important are your relationships with Hult students?


With this job, you get to build long-term relationships with students. I help out with the recruitment process, so I see some of the prospective students before they join. Then while they’re with us, I help with career advising, organising campus events and maximising the number of touchpoints with Hult’s corporate network. Later on, they become alumni and go off to achieve great things. But we have lots of communication channels and events that allow us to stay in touch. When you see them update their LinkedIn profile and they’ve got the job they’d been talking about when they first arrived as a student, it’s very gratifying. It’s the most rewarding part of what I do – alongside the support work I do for the Hult Prize as a council member.


How do you help Hult students bridge the gap from education to employment?


We’ve developed a fast-track programme to ensure students are prepared and have realistic expectations before term begins. This provides access to webinars and resume assessment software. Once the programme starts, we hold career workshops, provide case studies and bring guests speakers in. We encourage networking and teach students about the hidden job market, because applying to jobs online is only the tip of the iceberg.


In the second part of the year we focus on interviewing. We give students the opportunity to interview for the typical job they are currently applying for. An external consultant challenges them to make all the common interview mistakes. We then provide them with feedback so they can improve for the real interview. We help students polish their LinkedIn profiles, which are almost as important as resumes now. We also focus on career transitions – lots of our students, especially at MBA level, want to switch careers in some way.


We organise plenty of touchpoints with our corporate partners on campus, including a job fair with around 25 companies who have previously hired Hult students; career connection events allowing students to meet recruiters; and career discovery events which help students decide on their career path.


It’s important to point out that the support doesn’t stop at graduation. Because we’ve joined career development and alumni relations together, we can bridge that change of status and ensure career support also applies to alumni.


What are the defining characteristics of Hult alumni?


We have a hugely diverse student and alumni body. We have 135 nationalities represented and we regularly see them moving from one country to another.

Another thing I think makes them distinctive is their soft skills, which is something we have emphasised in recent years. This is not something business schools have traditionally done. We’ve divided soft skills into five categories: communication, adaptive thinking, relationships, teamwork and execution, and we incorporate them throughout the programme. It’s definitely had a positive outcome so far. For instance, many employers have said that Hult alumni are better prepared to deal with uncertainty in the workplace and leading teams and group projects.

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Read the rest in our series of higher ed interview here.

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Rob Parker

Rob Parker

Rob managed FULL FABRIC's digital communications between September 2015 and September 2017.

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