Meet IMD’s MBA Class Of 2019

Olivier De Liedekerke

IMD Business School

“I’m an enthusiastic monkey-business-tasks-killer and tend to favor quality over quantity.”

Hometown: Brussels, Belgium

Fun Fact About Yourself: The less mainstream my holidays are, the more I enjoy them. I particularly enjoy trekking off-the-beaten-track in areas such as Lapland, Greenland, Patagonia or Nepal just to name a few. And if this occurs in winter under a tent, it is even better.

Undergraduate School and Major: Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL) – Engineering – Material science

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Total – Performance control engineer

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I redesigned and simplified a complex data analysis workflow used to evaluate the economic impact of industrial events affecting a major manufacturing plant. This revamp allowed to gain 50% in efficiency and freed-up time in the department to focus on meaningful analysis to drive the performance of the plant.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Open-minded. In no other place have I found such a concentration of people willing to learn from one another and try new experiences.

Aside from your classmates, 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? For me, the key deciding factor was the fact that IMD  primarily focuses on developing senior executives for industry. From my perspective, this offers two advantages. The first one is that the teachers have strong hands-on experience and focus on what really matters. The second one is that being an MBA at IMD basically means that you are at the very bottom of the food chain on the campus. You are surrounded by people being more experienced than you are, which is usually not the case at classical b-schools.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? Photography and running as I would like to participate to Lausanne’s half marathon.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I strongly believe that an MBA will nicely complement my engineering background with both hard business skills and soft leadership capabilities. I tend to describe myself as a generalist. In this context, I would like to be able to tackle any business-related problem and be able to talk and understand the point of view of people, whatever their profile, background and function. In this respect, an MBA was a natural choice. Regarding the question of “why now?”, the MBA project has been maturing for quite some time now. I began to think about it a few years after I graduated from university. To fully benefit from it, some years of experience are important, not only to cross the checkboxes of the admissions dossier but also to make the most of the experience. When I began preparing my application in early 2018, the planets of my personal and private life were aligned, and it was the perfect timing to go for it. I had seven years of international experience in a major energy company,  enough savings to finance it and last but not least, my girlfriend and relatives in general were (and are still) highly supportive.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? INSEAD

How did you determine your fit at various schools? There are a lot of stories out there outlining how to or how not to select a b-school. My personal rational was the following. Firstly, I shortlisted the b-schools based on practical aspects such as the program duration (1-year), intake date (January for professional constraints), and options for my partner to find a job in the area. Secondly, I did some research browsing the web and talking to alumni to understand the school better and further narrow down the list. I gained an even better insight on the school approach and mindset during the admission process. A bit like in poker, you pay to see… Finally, at the end of the day, when I had to make a decision, I went for IMD and its strong leadership stream, its focus on industry and its class of 90 to really get to know each of my fellow MBAs.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? I don’t believe I had “defining” moments. I think that life is made of opportunities and choices and the decisions we make at these cross-roads shape us progressively. As far as I’m concerned, I do not live with regrets because even the seemingly “bad” decisions turn to be at least as rich in learning as the “good” ones. From my personal experiences, I had the chance to make a few leaps of faith and the results always turned out to be exceptionally rewarding. To paraphrase one of our guest speakers this year, “luck is everywhere but you need to go out of your comfort zone to find it” (Jean-Claude Biver, TAG Heuer CEO).

Where do you see yourself in five years? “Where” is a question I still need to figure out. However, I definitely would like to be in a position allowing me to tackle complex situations and have a positive impact, not only in terms of tough numbers but also on society in general.

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