Pierre-Alexis Copé, Former President of WBSS
“I have many ideas, and these ideas are big. I won’t be able to do them alone. But if you work with me, I promise you the society will reach a golden age like never before”
Pierre-Alexis Copé, known as the ‘Leader of the Golden Age’, is the former President of WBSS. Pierre grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his International Baccalaureate before joining Warwick University in 2014. Three years later, Pierre graduated from Warwick with a degree in Management.
During his time at Warwick, Pierre served as a huge inspiration to those around him. One of his most notable contributions is the restructuring of the society and transforming WBSS into the esteemed organisation that it is today. Currently, Pierre is pursuing a Master’s degree in Corporate Strategy at HEC Paris, one of the most renowned business schools in the world.
We caught up with Pierre as he shares with us his journey in Warwick and how his experiences in WBSS have shaped him.
How was your experience at Warwick?
Hmm, I think that I learned a lot from the environment in University. In particular, I learned a lot about the mentality of having to fight for what you want. I think that it’s a very sane mentality because it’s probably the closest thing to real life. Warwick is very much organised as some kind of free market where you get to do whatever you want as long as you work for it and you find the right people for it because you have access to a huge amount of resources.
We are very privileged to be in this University because the level of resources is really incredible, but people are never going to hold your hand and tell you what you need to do. You have to fight for what you want. I think that’s a kind of mentality I didn’t really have before and it was my first time experiencing it at Warwick. That is probably one of the best things I learned from University.
When did you join WBSS?
I joined as a fresher rep in my first year. My brother was studying PPE at Warwick and he was not part of WBSS at that time, but he had heard of the society. He told me when I entered Warwick that I should try to join the society. So, I saw some current execs and talked to them. I showed them that I was really motivated and keen on joining the society and I was chosen to be one of the fresher reps. I wanted to join the Corporate team and so I was recruited into Corporate.
What is the biggest takeaway from your whole WBSS experience?
Well, leading 50 people is an experience I recommend very warmly. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do, but the most thrilling as well. It taught me a lot about myself and about others, but most importantly, it gave me the opportunity to discover the best human and professional experiences of my life.
It was the first time I had the opportunity to inspire people. When Jessica and I were president and vice-president last year, we had the opportunity to talk about our experience in WBSS in front of 350 freshers. I did that twice so it was to over 600 students. Then, we had a huge turnout for the ‘Meet the Execs’ event and the recruitment drive. One of the most vivid memories I have is that some of the recruited execs came to me afterwards and thanked me for my speech because it had inspired them to join WBSS and they were so glad to be a part of the society.
So that’s why I’m saying this. It’s not in an obnoxious way. I’m not saying this to say that I’m the best, but to have the opportunity to live through such a rare experience is priceless to me. Basically, WBSS gave me my chance and that’s the biggest takeaway I can ever have.
How has your experience at HEC Paris been so far? Was the transition from University to Master’s difficult?
Academically, I am thrilled. It is incredible. The program is amazing and the teachers are amazing. It’s a much smaller classroom so you go through a much more personal interaction and that’s huge for the academics teaching. We have amazing partnerships with companies. I mean I’m incredibly lucky to be there and I could not complain.
Now the thing is, for the environment itself, it’s a huge difference. When you’re in University, you have 3 years and the most important part is about meeting different people, being part of societies and all that stuff. At HEC, it’s not about that at all. I don’t know if every Master’s program is like that but for me, it is a lot more serious. You know the people are nice and I’ve made amazing friends who I’m going to stay in contact with forever. But it’s not like in Warwick. You work a lot more without a doubt. The Master’s is a lot more professionalised. They kind of put you in this space where you’re halfway between working and studying. That’s the big difference. In University, you’re still in your bubble, you know that you’re still a student. With the Master’s, you’re already almost in the working environment.
How did you decide what you wanted to do after Warwick?
So, I knew I wanted to do a Master’s degree. I wasn’t really into finding a job right away because I wanted to specialise in something. Very soon, I figured I wanted to work in strategy. The fun part is that I didn’t know much about strategy itself. I knew I didn’t like finance. I knew from being president of WBSS that I enjoyed the concept of strategy itself, but I had no idea what the study of it really was.
Basically, I kind of went through the rankings and I sorted out what were the most interesting Master’s programs. Then, I just figured that I would take the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test), start preparing my applications and see exactly where I would be. In the end, I was lucky enough to get my position at HEC. Something that you should understand is that HEC is a very good school but particularly when you’re French. It’s kind of the school you hear about when you’re a kid and you know there are a few schools in France that are like that. At first, I was thinking “I’ll try HEC but I’m probably not going to get it”. But when I got it there was no question as to whether I would take it or not. It was a given thing.
Did you ever use the career services provided by the University?
So, the fun thing is that I never used the career services from Warwick, but now that I’m in HEC, I use them all the time. Because I didn’t really have an idea of what the working environment was. I wasn’t very interested because I was thinking “Okay I’m just doing a Master’s for now, let’s focus on that.
I have a big brother who had been looking into the working environment 2 years before me. So, whenever I had a question I would ask him or my parents or friends of my parents, but I never really took the time to go through the services of the University. I don’t know if, in retrospective, I should tell you I regret this because right now I have access to very competent services as well, but I’m guessing it kind of depends on how you see your path. If you want to work right away, which is completely fine, then you should probably be using them.
What are your plans for the future after you graduate?
Working in Consulting. The Master’s I’m doing right now is kind of almost completely dedicated to working in Consulting. About 60% of people in my masters are going to go there. Now, I don’t think I want to do that for the rest of my life but I want to do it for at least 3-4 years because it’s an extremely good school, you get to discover a lot of different industries, you meet a lot of very interesting people, you travel and also you do a lot of strategy, which is something I found out I actually really love by studying it. I think I’ll join an industry, but before that, I want to see a lot of different industries and really understand which one I think is the most interesting.
If you look back on your time at University, is there anything you would have done differently?
No. I don’t believe in the whole concept of “Yeah, I would have done that differently”.
I’m a bit of a geek, so I’m familiar with the whole concept of how when you change a small thing, everything else is completely destroyed. So, I try to always think that whatever happened, happened for the best.
Now I won’t lie to you, some things were tough, some things were hard. I always wondered if I should have done PPE instead of Management. But also, I don’t have anything to complain about. I had an amazing experience with WBSS and that was by far, the greatest highlight of my time in Uni. I got to meet incredible people, whether they were in WBSS or outside of the society. I grew up a lot, from a social and a personal point of view and that was huge as well. I don’t think I’ve ever grown up so much in so little time before. I cannot possibly imagine a better environment for me to grow up so much and there’s not much I regret because I keep very good memories of my time in Warwick and I recommend that you enjoy as much as you can as well.
Do you have any advice for current students at Warwick?
Enjoy your time, but never forget that academics are 40% of your time so you should dedicate the rest of it to something bigger than yourself. Something that makes you different: a society, a charity, anything. Something that allows you to accomplish your potential. That’s what University is about. It’s to find who you really are and what you want to be doing.
To round it all up, the last but most important question remains: Smack or Neon?
Smack always. ALWAYS Smack. Because the Vodka Red Bull is only 1 pound.