Meet London Business School’s MBA Class Of 2021

Pierre Bize

London Business School

“Friendly and open-minded, I am a result-driven individual who likes to overcome challenges.”

Hometown: Lisbon, Portugal

Fun Fact About Yourself: I enjoy trekking all around the world, from the cloudy mountains in Myanmar to the hot treks of Africa, going through the jungles of Brazil or the freezing Alpine landscapes.

Undergraduate School and Major: Grenoble Ecole de Management, Masters in Management, Major: Entrepreneurship

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: PEGAfrica, Operations Director for West Africa.

PEGAfrica is a for-profit social impact energy business based in West Africa and selling financed solar home systems with pay-as-go technology using mobile payments that permit customers to pay for the products over time while using the lighting system from day one.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest accomplishment was at PEGAfrica as Operations Director for West Africa. This experience brought me out of my comfort zone: bringing financed solar energy products to poor off-grid households has put me in direct contact with people from different cultures, ethnicities, and religions. Since I joined, we have launched two new countries, growing from less than 100 employees to more than 800. On top of the challenge of hiring, training, structuring, managing operations, and leading large teams in different countries, this truly developed my humility and ability to accept people with different backgrounds and perspectives. Furthermore, it felt incredibly fulfilling to be able to bring clean energy to remote villages, seeing the immediate impact on our clients’ capacity to work, study and improve their own lives.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Curiosity – I had the opportunity to interact with classmates from various industries and different cultures and their common denominator is curiosity. I look forward to discovering, interacting, sharing and building business ideas during and after the MBA with curious and dynamic classmates.

What is the best part of coming to London to earn your MBA? London has always been on my radar. I always wanted to explore and live in this dynamic and diverse city. I like the city’s balance between its cultural mix and its rich ecosystem uniting business, finance and innovative industries. Also, being one tube station away from a multitude of companies and job opportunities is an important factor to take into account during the MBA. Not to mention, the city has limitless choices in terms of social, art, music and sporting events.

Aside from your classmate and location, 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? The international component was a very important factor. I traveled extensively and, since graduation, have worked and managed teams in eight countries over four continents. I learned that multicultural environments are the best places to develop your skills and open your mind to different approaches, expertise, and contexts. I see LBS as a place that creates diversity and brings innovation, while combining talents and cultures, and I am fully aligned with these values.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? Tech Club, Consulting Club, Energy and Social Impact Club, Rugby Club, Wine Club.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? The most challenging and interesting question was, “Where do you see yourself in ten years?” This forced me to plan ahead and build multiple possible scenarios for my career.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? After several years of operational learning and launching and structuring companies across the globe, I wanted to “take a step back” and capitalize on my learnings with the best of business education. I decided to pursue an MBA to transition to more strategic roles, strengthen my financial skills, enlarge my network and discover new career opportunities.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? UC Berkeley, MIT

How did you determine your fit at various schools?  I evaluated the different MBA programs according to their ranking, international exposure, teaching and finance reputation, alumni work experiences, and community environment (through events, clubs, etc.).

I evaluated those factors by contacting and holding discussions with dozens of students and alumni from different nationalities and industries to get the best picture I could of the school and the programme.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? My first work experience in Africa – Kenya – was extremely challenging. It combined many new factors that required me to adapt (work, culture, language). I joined Rocket Internet’s first e-commerce unicorn and had to prove that I was the right man for the job.

My first mission with Rocket Internet’s Jumia was to build a strong onboarding structure for eight sub-departments. My trainings became the model for all country managers. Less than a year later, my managers gave me the opportunity to lead one of the companies and structure it in two other countries in Africa and Asia. I learned to manage, lead and develop people at their full potential.

This experience taught me that hard work, and pushing yourself to the limit and out of your comfort zone are necessary but not sufficient conditions to your success. Surrounding yourself with the right people, delegating responsibilities, and being a fair leader will take you to much higher places and achieve better results.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? Professionally, in ten years, I see myself evolving in the tech industry. I will be working for a Big Tech corporation or managing my medium-sized company. In both cases, I hope to be valued for my management and leadership skills.

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