Jean-Baptiste de Harenne
IESE Business School
Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Proud dad of two boys; Energy, waste, local industry and social impact enthusiast; Multilingual.
Hometown: Chiny, Belgium
Fun Fact About Yourself: This question is the one that took me the longest time to answer… At times I can be very undecided. So to avoid unnecessary decision-making when looking at the sandwich bar menu, I always tend to order “the same.”
Undergraduate School and Major: Bachelor and Master in Mechanical Engineering, Université catholique de Louvain (Belgium)
Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:
- Technical Director at BarajiiGroup, the beverages business unit of impact investing company Durabilis. It is based in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso (West Africa). While giving work to a thousand people, we were producing and selling high quality beverages in pouches at an affordable rate for a low-income population.
- Consultant at n-Side, management consulting company (Belgium)
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest professional achievement is my story of the last four years. My wife and I were just married and wanted to make our skills useful in developing countries. I found a job in Burkina Faso (West Africa) for a Belgian impact investing company (Durabilis). It was supposed to last for one or two years, but it turned out to be not only a fantastic family experience, but also a very rewarding professional challenge.
Whereas I had almost no professional managerial experience before this, I gradually took over the management of the production department of the factory, leading more than 300 hand workers and a staff of 25 technicians. With my production team, we substantially improved performance while creating an inclusive and fun environment.
I consider it my biggest accomplishment not just because of these numbers, but because of the quality of the relationships I developed with the local team.
Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? Be prepared! Not only for the GMAT (which, by the way, is not a guarantee for admission to any school), but for each piece of the puzzle. In this process, I recommend contacting as many people as you can with meaningful questions. You can learn a lot more from a 10 minute chat with the right person, than by reading a 200 page book. Reach out to alumni and the admissions of different programs.
I did not have the chance to visit campuses before applying, but I recommend that you gather as many contacts and connections of the schools on your wish list before choosing. It is difficult to form a sound opinion about which program is right for you without feeling the atmosphere of the place (whether you are able to do it through a visit, a call, or a chat).
What was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? Among other factors, I was attracted to the opportunity to have a learning experience abroad through an international exchange or elective modules in the second year. I’m really interested in new languages and cultures, but intend to stay in Europe in the long run. I therefore wanted to put emphasis on the creation of a more European network for the 2-year experience, while appreciating the opportunity of a shorter exchange, for example, to the US.
What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? Success would be friends and a happy family in Barcelona! Doing an MBA while married and a father is a challenge for the whole family. In this situation, you do not want anyone to feel neglected, so I want to make sure that they enjoy their time in Barcelona as much as I do. Of course, the feeling of success will be complete if I secure an internship in a new field (waste-to-energy start-up or consultancy) for the summer.