Breaking Barriers and Building Legacies: The Inspiring Journey of Hélène Ploix, One of INSEAD's First Female MBA Graduate

Hélène Ploix MBA'68 sitting in an INSEAD amphi
Hélène Ploix MBA'68

In June 2023, we had the privilege of meeting Hélène Ploix MBA'68 in Fontainebleau as she reunited with her fellow MBA alumni from 1968. This reunion held great significance as Hélène was a trailblazer, being one of the first woman to join the program—a truly historic moment for INSEAD. 

But let us rewind to the autumn of 1967. Hélène was eager to dive into the world of consulting, but her initial encounter with a potential employer was discouraging. They bluntly told her, “Firstly, you’re a woman; secondly, you don’t know anything about business. Go to INSEAD and come back.” Taking this advice to heart, Hélène embarked on a transformative journey. 

At that time, leadership positions were predominantly held by men, and women were rare in management and in scientific and industrial fields,” recalls Hélène. Yet, undeterred by this disparity, she forged ahead. “During my time at INSEAD, I have not only learned essential teamwork skills, but also cultivated a global perspective by collaborating with people from diverse backgrounds.” 

In the years that followed her graduation, Hélène’s career advanced steadily. She was entrusted with significant responsibilities and held managerial positions in both the private and public sectors, following her tenure at McKinsey. Her unique background and perspective brought valuable diversity to the teams she worked with. She held key positions at institutions like Banque Industrielle et Mobilère Privée, Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, and even the French government. 

Mentoring emerged as a powerful tool in Hélène’s toolkit. She dedicated herself to guiding younger individuals, aiding in building confidence, setting priorities, and advancing in their careers. As a member of the Académie des Technologies, she actively participated in encouraging individuals in scientific and technical careers, recognizing the value of their contributions. Additionally, she lent her support to the “Women Initiative Foundation” (WIF), an organization promoting diversity and advancement in economic life, led by her friend Martine Liautaud. 

Hélène's advice to young INSEAD Alumni and students is simple yet impactful: 

Find a mentor, connect with experienced individuals, and actively connect with the INSEAD Alumni community. This is the key to professional development and self-confidence.” 

Hélène Ploix's journey exemplifies the significant impact individuals can have in the professional world. Her story also underscores the strength of the INSEAD Alumni community. Pioneers like Hélène shape the future, breaking barriers and leaving a legacy of success and solidarity. Even today, she continues to gather with her classmates, now fondly referred to as the Jubilados, regularly participating in activities such as visiting museums—a testament to the enduring bonds of this remarkable INSEAD community. 

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