Signs posted around the grounds read: Do not ask for an easy life, but to have the strength to overcome the difficulties. Mathilde Llau, organizer in chief of Jump HEC 2014, exemplifies this message.
Mathilde has been riding since the end of the 20th century. She was determined to get the best higher education, for which she went first to Toulouse then to Paris. On the day she arrived at HEC, she deposited her bags in her new bedroom in the students hall, attended the welcome meeting, walked in the 250-acre park and looked at the grounds. “When I started at HEC, I was quite determined to be the president of the students office, so that I could run the Jump event.”
She looked for the second year students who had organized the event in 2013 to tell them her plan, and set to work amassing all the information and advice necessary: deadlines, key contacts… Organizing such an event is the best way to test your abilities to become a good manager. “HEC students have to submit a project as part of their studies, which may consist in coaching an entrepreneur or helping an association. 3 out of 7 students in the Jump association have chosen this event to get their accreditation. Analyzing the project according to the SWOT method (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat), the Threat was not just theoretical. There was no sign of a senior student proposing their help. Where on earth was the Jump HEC team? I emailed my classmates : 14 answered. That was enough to start the association. October was the best starting point. What made me decide to take on such a task? I had no particular talent, but I had the stamina to motivate the team. Usually, the first year students would be chaperoned by the second years. For the first time, we had to fly solo for the riding competition.”
If you look round the spectators attending Jump with their family, you’ll see a horse licking their children’s salty hands (a bald head would also do the trick), with Jouy Castle in the background or betting on the chances of the horse managing to empty its haynet before its next round. If you pick a spectator and ask him what he saw, he’ll say busy students wearing the HEC polo shirt and lots of horses being ridden by even more riders (962 in 4 days). If he were asked his opinion on Jump 2014, he would repeat what he heard many times through the loudspeakers: “a clear round, and under the time limit”.
The post of organizer in chief is open for next year. Mathilde is studying Chinese, and looking to the next step in her academic career. “Thanks to an exchange program, I’ll be going to the Fundan University School of Management in Shanghai. Successfully organizing Jump one year is one thing. Setting up the structure for the organization to run smoothly on a regular basis is another. The transition filled me with panic. Let’s be professional with the newcomers and help them play their own role to the best of their ability. This is vital for the event, and for our association”.
Next year, the SWOT analysis will no doubt come to a different conclusionb ut the challenge will remain as demanding and will fill the leader with terror.
Acknowledgements : I would like to thank Jenny Pickman, herself an accomplished translator, for her input in this english version.