2016 Best MBAs: Marie-Renée B-Lajoie, INSEAD

Marie Renee B Lajoie INSEAD

Marie-Renée B-Lajoie



“Have the courage to look for ways to test your beliefs. Business school is only the beginning of our journey. It is in no way a finite process. Experimenting and questioning, while acting on our ideas and thoughts, is what truly matters, now, and in 5-10-20 years.”

Age: 30

Hometown: Shawinigan, Quebec, Canada


McGill University, Doctorate of Medicine

Harvard School of Public Health, Master of Public Health

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? I was an emergency physician at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, Canada, an academic hospital associated with McGill University, and an affiliated expert with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? My class did not have a summer internship as we have a 10-month program and we graduate in July.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be joining the Brigham’s and Women’s hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, working with the Chief Medical Officer on the interface between community care and the emergency department.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School

  • World Economic Forum participant for the Digital Transformation of Industries project with Accenture Strategy
  • 2nd position at the Net Impact Case Competition, in Boulder, Colorado, where my team focused on social impact investing
  • Co-president of the INSEAD Healthcare club: With an incredible team, we put together speaker events (including the first presentation of the work done by McKinsey during the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone), weekly lunches to engage students about healthcare as a potential career path, and I led a trip, in collaboration with INSEAD’s social impact club, to Geneva, to visit consulting firms and international organizations with a social impact and healthcare focus.
  • Treasurer of the rugby club: We run weekly practices, hold traditional naming and initiation ceremonies for new members and compete in international tournaments. The rugby club is the most social club at INSEAD, open to all levels from beginner to seasoned pro – I had the opportunity to learn a new sport, something I love, while getting to know an incredible group of individuals.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Attending the World Economic Forum at Davos with Accenture Strategy, as part of an independent study project on the societal implications of the Digital Transformation of Industries project, was the highlight of my year. Having the chance to participate in a project that aimed to influence business and policy leaders and work with a passionate, dedicated team was such a privilege. It was so exciting to be a part of the energy, opportunities and challenging ideas at Davos.

This massive initiative looked at the impact of digitalization across industries, drawing out cross-cutting themes between sectors to finally quantify the value of the digital transformation. My focus was specifically on ethics, trust, and transparency, delving into research looking at the relations between digitalization and society, and writing specific case studies of companies leveraging the opportunities in the sector.

This inspired me to look beyond my everyday work and understand the interconnectedness business and policy brings to all across the globe. Business as a force for good is something I now strongly believe in.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career?  I am proud of the incredible teams I have led to design innovative research initiatives while working clinically full time. My goal was to improve our knowledge globally while impacting meaningfully the lives of the individuals affected.

In the last month and during my MBA, I published 2 new research papers, which served as the basis of the new guidelines for the treatment of individuals with HIV for the World Health Organization. This project, where I led the pediatric research arm, took many years to complete, as we were focusing on children with HIV in low and middle income countries, where the data on the incidence of diseases (specifically opportunistic infections) is scarce. Our final publication included over 55,000 children, drawn from 80 different studies, demonstrating the benefit of anti-retroviral therapy in averting 160 000 infections and saving at least 17 million in US dollars per year.

As part of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, I co-led a team looking at the impact of violence from narco-trafficking on the healthcare system, specifically in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Individuals are dying at a rate of one per hour from traumatic injuries! My role included leading the initial needs assessment, managing partner relations, and working to build a research agenda that will set the basis for meaningful, cost effective interventions in the future. We were invited to publish an editorial in the World Health Organization Bulletin to raise awareness on the issue, which is increasingly prevalent across the globe yet under-addressed. Our work, in collaboration with Hospital Escuela, the main academic hospital in the country’s capital, is now in the process of publishing four papers on our findings. I managed to secure a grant from a private foundation to take our research further. Leading this international team has been a challenging but extremely inspiring experience.

Favorite MBA Courses? Coming from medicine, changing behavior is a subject that passionates me. I loved my brand management class, taught by Pierre Chandon, probably INSEAD’s best case writer, as well as Customer Insights, by Ziv Carmon. I cannot wait for my last period here though, where most of my classes, including an independent study project, will focus on social impact.

Why did you choose this business school? INSEAD offered a short, condensed program. Having studied in Canada and in the USA, I wanted a program that would take me out of my North American healthcare comfort zone.

What did you enjoy most about business school? What struck me about business school, compared to my master of public health, for example, was the personal transformative experience it fostered. My values and my comfort zones have been challenged from day 1 – engaging in conversations in and outside of class with individuals from a breadth of backgrounds. My colleagues are a constant source of inspiration. This personal journey, along the professional skills I am acquiring, is truly priceless.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from business school? “Have the courage to look for ways to test your beliefs.” Business school is only the beginning of our journey. It is in no way a finite process. Experimenting and questioning, while acting on our ideas and thoughts, is what truly matters, now, and in 5-10-20 years.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? The incredible breadth of talent, experiences and perspective from each of my colleagues. For example, in my small group team at the beginning of the year, one of my groupmates had worked in North Korea for the last few years. Learning about his experience was really moving.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? Apply if you are willing to challenge the way you see and do things.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I realized that I needed independence of means and ideas to drive innovation in healthcare and the only way to do that was through business.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…wondering if being an entrepreneur is something I can aspire to in the future. Now I know it’s not something I aspire to, it’s something I will do.”

What are your long-term professional goals? Very rapidly I realized in medicine that I needed to move beyond the day to day work to create an impact at a larger scale. I kept seeing the different patients, but with the same problems over and over again. This drives me to seek ways to bring innovation within healthcare and I plan to run my own business with a social mission, hopefully in the near future. Long-term, I would like to consider policy to be able to contribute to society and encourage young entrepreneurs to build our nation of tomorrow.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? As cliché as it may sound, my parents are the ones to whom I owe my success. From the discipline, the support, the perseverance and their faith in me, beyond anything anyone could have hoped for.

I have also been immensely privileged to have two incredible mentors in my career: Dr Gilles Julien and Dr Kirsten Johnson. Dr Julien founded the movement of social pediatrics in Quebec, revolutionizing the way we care for children in underserved neighbourhoods. Dr Johnson is building Humanitarian U, an online platform to bring training to humanitarian workers across the globe in order to standardize the humanitarian responses in crisis.

Fun fact about yourself: I grew up in rural Quebec and I try to hunt every year at our cottage.

Favorite book: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron

Favorite movie: Dead Poet Society

Favorite musical performer: Nothing beats Beautiful Day live…

Favorite television show: I wish I had one but no time!

Favorite vacation spot: Anywhere outdoors.

Hobbies? Running and rock climbing. Fontainebleau is the mecca of bouldering – being able to be outdoors in the forest is beautiful.

What made Marie-Renée B-Lajoie such an invaluable addition to the class of 2016?

“At only 29, Marie Renee has already been practicing medicine for two years, but wanted to gain another top degree to round out her business skill set so she may take an already dynamic career to the next level. She is friendly, pleasant, mature, open-minded & has the ability to capture people’s attention. Marie-Renée has been leading the Insead Healthcare club with the clear drive to bring an innovation and social component! A wonderful person, great student and invaluable INSEAD ambassador!” — Sven Biel, Associate Director, MBA Programme Management, INSEAD


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