At the Heart of Business & Entrepreneurship

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Hubert de l’Estoile (EPITA Promo 1994), Secretary General of the MEDEF, talks about his career, his years at school and projects of the employers for the new generations.
Can you trace back your career at the MEDEF?
Previously Director of Information Systems (DSI), I switched to Director of Human Resources (HR) in January 2010 before becoming general secretary in September of that year. Between the first two trades, which can seem so different, there are actually several common characteristics. The two main ones are listening and servicing either users or employees.  There is also a strong commitment to the service because in both cases we must find, develop and implement permanent solutions satisfactory to all stakeholders in the interest of the MEDEF. Finally, there is in both cases some technical skilles that require quick learning and daily acquisition of new skills.
I do not have any overlap with the previous HRD who was had left several months prior to my arrival. My first task was to meet first the HR team and later their managers and their teams, to listen and make an inventory of expectations. At the same time, I took charge of employee representatives (DUP and HSC). Then came the definition and formalization of a new HR policy, based on equity, personal and professional development and benchmarking, which resulted in an action plan now being implemented.
How were your years at EPITA determining?
After two years of preparatory course at ESME Sudria, I spent my three years of engineering studies, from 1991 to 1994, EPITA, the “Titian.” It is in this building, we called as the “Cruiseship” located Boulevard Hospital, that I discovered the Internet through the exclusive use of email, because at that time the first WWW browser did not yet exist. So I had my first email address in 1992 EPITA! I did not realize the extent of development this new communication technology was going to undergo. We were so few to have an email that it was a challenge to have a penpal and if possible at the other end of the world, the must was a contact in California!
I had taken as an option “System & Networks.” We worked a lot on IP networks as NOVELL networks were in their infancy. EPITA had and still has I believe a great advantage: access to machines 24H/7. I was appreciative of the confidence that the school gave its students. This freedom and flexibility of work was really appreciable. In return, the projects were very interesting but laborious and I discovered the joys of nights spent by project team to finalize the developments! This has been very rewarding and eye opening: it is through these experiences that I learned teamwork and understood the solidarity needed for a project to come to its  end.
EPITA’s teaching was so avant-garde and so professional that it allowed me to be chosen to go on cooperation in Southern Africa in order to implement messaging and networks in commercial services of French embassies in the region.
How can the spirit of entrepreneurship can be fostered into the younger generation?
The MEDEF serves business and the entrepreneurship spirit. Its president, Laurence Parisot, has established a commission dedicated exclusively to entrepreneurship. The commission, chaired by entrepreneur Charles Beigbeder, aims to put entrepreneurship as a third career path. A set of tools and actions are proposed and sponsored by MEDEF to develop entrepreneurship, especially among younger generations. First through the transmission of knowledge required of the company. Two comics were made for junior highschool students: “What is Business?” and “Discovering the Company;” a book entitled “The Company: A Key Player in the Company” was released to the attention of highschool students; the game” Journey to the Company’s Heart” was created for college students so that they are capable, in three hours and a half, to better understand the business environment.
Follows a more concrete action, for junior highschool and highschool students, the “mini-business” partnership between MEDEF and the association “Investing in Learning.” A mini-company gathers a group of young volunteers around an entrepreneurial project. Supervised by a teacher and a professional advisor, the mini-company operates as a limited company and is develops a product or service for marketing. Once a week, mini-entrepreneurs come together to build their project. These sessions include notions of investment, price or cost, community life and citizen … Students also have the possibility of donating a portion of their profits to a charitable cause. The mini-company allows to introduce young people – 14 to 20 years – in the economy and more particularly to create their business venture in the future.