Sciences-Po Alumni flock to Westminster!

For its second charity gala, the Sciences-Po Alumni UK Trust organised a dinner at the British Parliament, hosted by MP and former Europe minister Denis MacShane, under the patronage of French ambassador Maurice Gourdault-Montagne and with baron David de Rothschild as guest speaker.

Westminster’s dining room might never have seen so many « Froggies » than last Wednesday, when 160 Science-Po alumni flocked to the British Parliament’s dinner room for their second charity gala.

The party was organised by the Sciences-Po Alumni UK Trust, a charity founded in 2008 by Stéphane Rambosson, Cécile d’Angelin et Maëva Slotine, with the aim to provide bursaries to outstanding Sciences-Po students completing their studies at the London School of Economics. This year awards were attributed to Zimbabwean Simiso Velempini (26) and German Viktor Siebert (24).

The gala was sponsored by London based French entrepreneurs Arnaud Vaissié, CEO of world’s leading medical provider International SOS, and Laurence Borde, founder of financial production agency Media Tree. Pascal Cagni, CEO of Apple EMEA and another former alumnus, provided iPods for the raffle.

Hosted in Westminster by Labour MP and former Europe Minister Denis MacShane, the party was held under the patronage of the French Ambassador in the UK Maurice Gourdault-Montagne (Sciences-Po 1975), with Baron David de Rothschild (Sciences-Po 1966) as guest speaker. Richard Descoings, director of Sciences-Po, and Jean-Emmanuel Combes, global head of its Alumni network (and senior partner de Price Waterhouse Cooper) came from Paris for the evening.

The guest list read as a « Who’s Who » of the French London financial world, with attendees including Benoit d’Angelin, founder of Ondra Partners, Bertrand Coste, founding partner of Clerville, Charles de Croisset, senior advisor of Goldman Sachs and former Chairman and CEO of leading French bank CCF, Bernard Gault, founding partner of Perella Weinberg, Laurent Haziza, Partner of Rothschild, Gael de La Rochere, partner of Wendel and former CEO of Schneider Electric UK, Jean-Pierre Mustier, former CEO of Société Générale Corporate and Investment bank, and Michael Zaoui, former Chairman of M&A at Morgan Stanley.


Sciences Po, the “French elite factory”

Described by The Economist in 2001 as “the grandest of the grandes écoles which, since Napoleon, have provided France with its political, administrative and business elite”, Sciences Po (or “Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris”, its official name) has long been considered as a national and global leaders’ “factory”.

Established in Paris in 1872 to modernise the training of politicians, Sciences Po alumni include 28 past and present French Primes ministers and Presidents (François Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac amongst them, as well as Nicolas Sarkozy who studied there) and 12 past or present foreign heads of State or government, as well as many prominent politicians, including Sir Austen Chamberlain, Peace Nobel Prize winner and one of Britain’s most popular past Foreign Secretaries.

While nearly every French high ranking politician or diplomat has attended Sciences Po since its inception, the institution’s global reach is far wider, notably in International Relations, with former alumni including Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games, former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, current Director-General of the World Trade Organization Pascal Lamy, current President of the European Central Bank Jean-Claude Trichet and current head of the International Monetary Fund Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

In business, the school can claim to have housed 14 of the current CEOs of France’s 40 largest companies. This impressive record is not confined to France: the 2007 annual higher survey conducted by the Ecoles des Mines de Paris, which bases its ranking on the institutions attended by the CEOs of the 500 biggest multinational companies, rates Sciences Po as the 8th best universities in the world.

Numerous intellectuals -including novelist Marcel Proust, philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, former Harvard president Derek Bok and Pulitzer Prize winner Stanley Karnow- have also honed their skills amongst its walls. More surprisingly, its list of alumni includes celebrities such as fashion legend Christian Dior, Princess Caroline of Monaco, ex-Rolling Stones wife and human rights activist Bianca Jagger and current pop sensation Camille Dalmais -proof if needed of its rather unique cultural influence!

While proud of its rich tradition, Sciences Po has also led the way to adapt to the XXIst century by a series of innovative initiatives through its modern-minded director Richard Descoings. It attracted international media attention in 2003 with a new entrance system aimed to broaden its traditionally upper middle class student-body by recruiting from economically depressed suburbs of Paris. And while always attracting foreign alumni, the school has become over the past few years a truly global school: with a third of its 7,500 students coming from abroad, Sciences Po appears today as the most international of all French universities and grandes écoles, as shown by its extended and prestigious exchange programs, with universities including LSE and Oxford, or Harvard, Colombia, Princeton and Berkeley. Sciences Po has the most extensive partnership network of any French university having ties with the best institutions in 54 countries.

Sciences Po links to London in particular have always been strong. In 1895, Sidney and Beatrice Webb used the Sciences Po curriculum as part of their inspiration for creating the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), which has now become one of Sciences Po’s closest partners.

Top, left to right: Stéphane Rambosson, Jean-Emmanuel Combes, Richard Descoings, DenisMacShane, Cécile d'Angelin. Bottom, around the table: Arnaud Vaissié, David de Rothschild, Denis MacShane, Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, Maëva Slotine, Michaël Zaoui.

Top, left to right: Stéphane Rambosson, Jean-Emmanuel Combes, Richard Descoings, DenisMacShane, Cécile d’Angelin. Bottom, around the table: Arnaud Vaissié, David de Rothschild, Denis MacShane, Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, Maëva Slotine, Michaël Zaoui.