2017 MBAs To Watch: Caroline De Vit, IESE Business School

Caroline De Vit

IESE Business School

“Restless learner thriving on new challenges with enough passion to motivate a team of thousands.” 

Age: 31

“Restless learner thriving on new challenges with enough passion to motivate a team of thousands.”

Hometown: Annecy, France

Fun fact about yourself: I have been living in a suitcase over the past 10 years (moved in and out of 10 cities in 6 countries)

Undergraduate School and Degree: Law and Political Sciences, University of Lyon III (France)

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Legal and policy advisor, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (Rome, Italy), Climate Strategy Consultant at Ecofys (Cologne, Germany) and EcoRessources (Montreal, Canada)

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? Goldman Sachs, Investment Banking Summer Associate (London, United Kingdom)

Where will you be working after graduation? McKinsey, Associate (Montreal, Canada)

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: 1st Year Director of the Finance Club, Vice President of the Finance Club, Investment Banking and Consulting 1st Years Mentor, Exchange student at Yale

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am proud of the impact I had on first year female students’ decision to choose finance as a career option through sharing my experience. This ranged from not knowing what a balance sheet was before the MBA to doing my summer internship in investment banking and coaching some of them to obtain an internship. Being told that you are a source of inspiration to achieve things that were considered out of reach is one of the most rewarding achievements. One of the person I was supporting told me that when she was getting discouraged, she would think “What would Caroline do in this situation?” in order to get enough willpower to persist. Through my involvement in the IESE Finance Club, encouraging the next generation of students to help each other and share resources instead of considering each other as competition has also had rewarding consequences.

I also consider another achievement to be the fact that my marriage held together through challenging MBA times, including studying nights and weekends, occasional identity crises and some partying. My husband, as a male spouse to a MBA student, did not have a support network to rely on and not many other male spouses with whom to share concerns such as the rhythm lag between his life and mine. But the MBA made us stronger. While I may have had to compromise on my limitless eagerness to learn, I could not have done my MBA without my husband’s support.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I’m proud of my track record of advisory services to governments during international climate negotiations and of the business development deals that made up a large part of my former company’s revenues. However, I have more pride from having served clients in 30 countries while contributing to environmental and social causes that affect us all globally.

I have always aimed to serving my client’s interests in a way that multiplies the impact of the decision and strategy I was advising on for the current and future generations. This meant achieving the expected results while anticipating needs for natural resources in 20-50 years. This required a lot of convincing power, creativity, perseverance, and a good balance between maintaining a big picture mindset and not losing sight of the details. Most importantly, it required bringing stakeholders from diverse backgrounds with different interests to the table and guiding them to the only sustainable way of transforming their positions into impact: working together. In today’s world, the interconnection of issues and their high level of complexity call for collaboration and problem solving using many lenses because sometimes ambitious results are out of reach on an individual basis. If you add cultural complexities, conflict of interests and sometimes hours of discussion in a language you don’t master, seeing the strategy you have been advising on being adopted and implemented by all stakeholders could not be more rewarding!

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor John Almandoz was instrumental in deepening my understanding of leadership styles I had experienced prior to the MBA and in teaching life-long instincts to manage teams and lead them successfully. His class went far beyond leadership: leadership is the glue that holds organizations and teams together and is the most important enabler of success and happiness. Most importantly, I learned how to balance self-awareness and introspection with the self-confidence that is required to inspire trust from a team.

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? From my competitive strategy class, my greatest insight is that constant disruptive innovation is often, if not all the times in today’s world, the only way to sustain a competitive advantage. Although it may require significant awareness efforts, the most challenging aspect of disruptive innovation is the courage and perseverance to convince a majority and bear the risk of failure. Most often, this courage is held by one person who believes in his or her ability to change what most of us consider unalterable and who aims to accomplish a more sustainable version of our society. Elon Musk is probably the most current example: profitability is sustainable over the long term only if the business model offers to the society sustainable solutions and creates value over the longer term possible.

Why did you choose this business school? IESE’s mission to impact the society through building the next generation business leaders is highly inspiring to me. The great diversity in terms of academic, cultural and professional backgrounds and the possibility to obtain a bilingual MBA were also significant reasons for me to choose IESE. Following conversations with alumni, I have come to realize how much the alumni network provides a unique support network that enables the IESE MBA to prolong its impact for students beyond the classroom and through the years.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? When I left for an exchange semester at Yale in January during my second year of MBA, I had the IESE blues, which made me feel as if I had left my family. At that time, I realized the real strength of the relationships I had developed with other students and members of the school. The fact we all went through similar challenges, the strong focus on team work and solidarity, and the activities organized by the clubs and other social events made us grow closer together. 

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? To be encouraged to think and act as a business leader from day 1. No matter whether you are a financial or a marketing expert, you will be forced to make a decision on operations or human resources. The teaching method is perfect to learn how to gather data, identify critical decision points, anticipate the impact of the decision, and deal with a low confidence level using a “learning by doing” and team-oriented approach.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program?  Be ready to demonstrate your ability to thrive in a diverse environment with colleagues from different cultural and academic backgrounds. You should also have a good idea of the main trends shaping the world today and their implications for businesses in terms of opportunities and challenges over the next years.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Doing an MBA in Barcelona, you may fear that outsiders, especially those not fully aware of IESE reputation, doubt the seriousness of your studies when you live in such a vibrant city with a lot of temptations. But the MBA is a lot of work, especially during the first year. Sometimes, you will feel dumb when you cannot respond about the latest Gaudi’s piece of art you saw because you were too busy calculating the optimal inventory stock level for your operation class.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I wish I had more time to network with all students and attend more events.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Not only is Yash Takar a model of resilience and success and will always be one for me, but he is one of the most generous persons I have ever been given to meet. He is an amazing Finance Club President who will be leaving an amazing legacy. He is always ready to make sacrifices to help others and a fearful mock interviewer that will push your limits as far as necessary to get you ready for the job.

I knew I wanted to go to business school…when I googled NPV during one of my first carbon transaction I was advising on as a legal expert and felt the urge to fully grasp the meaning of it from a business standpoint. After googling three more similar terms, I was sold to consider doing an MBA.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…a recognized expert in environmental sustainability but lacking all required perspectives to fully achieve my ambitions.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? 1) Ensure a strict policy of 50/50 women/men as the key decision makers in the cases students have to study. 2)  Hire more female professors 3) Think of the MBA experience from a woman’s perspective and fill any gap that would make women less confident. For instance, it could be to provide additional communication training to students lacking the self-confidence to participate in class or making presentations to wide audiences.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Lead a business that achieves profitability through sustainability.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My husband for believing in me (what an act of courage!) and mostly for making me believe in me. No one had managed it before him.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As somebody who is not afraid to consider the impossible a possibility to benefit the greater good.

Favorite book: Orfenor, with a special mention to my favorite 2017 book: The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy Schumer (only for advised female audience with self-reflexive humor)

Favorite movie or television show: Kill Bill

Favorite musical performer: Franck Black of the Pixies

Favorite vacation spot: besides my hometown: Bali, Indonesia

Hobbies? Any outdoor sport that involves riding on a board using a natural element and a shot of adrenaline (snowboarding, windsurfing, surfing…), hot yoga and triathlon sports.

What made Caroline such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“As mentor of her MBA team, and having had her in class, I can say impossible is nothing for Caroline. She joined IESE with a background on energy. Without any previous experience in finance, she managed to get an internship in Goldman Sachs London after turning down two offers from other top-notch investment banks. At the end of the MBA, she will head to McKinsey Montreal to start a – I’m sure about it – fantastic career in management consulting. Such career changes are only available to extraordinary people that – like Caroline –  are persistent, hard working, and reliable. Perhaps more importantly, Caroline has been able to achieve all of this while performing at the highest academic level at our MBA program and being a key member of her team. Always calmed and caring, and with strong personal values, she has been a key asset of our class of 2017.”

Eduard Calvo
Associate Professor of Production, Technology and Operations Management

 

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