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2021 Best & Brightest MBAs: Marc-Olivier Granger, IESE Business School

Marc-Olivier Granger

IESE Business School

“Gentle giant, engineer converted consultant, that goes above and beyond to help those around him.”

Hometown: Montreal, Canada

Fun fact about yourself: I have explored the depths of the earth! I worked for an underground mine for a few months. I was regularly working at 1,000m underground and the deepest I have been is more than 2,000m below the surface.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bachelor of Mining Engineering, McGill University, Montreal

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school?

Before the MBA I was working as a mining engineer for Teranga Gold, a Canadian mining company, at the Sabodala open pit gold mine in Senegal. The mine is about a 12-hour drive from Dakar and a 30-minute drive from the border of Mali. Pretty much in the middle of nowhere! I was working on shift, 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, 8 weeks at a time.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? The Boston Consulting Group in Dubai. I actually did my internship in the Fall because of Covid, and I did classes at IESE over the summer.

Where will you be working after graduation? Consultant with The Boston Consulting Group

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Class Representative and member of the Student Council
  • VP of Mentorship for the Consulting Club
  • Winner of the 2020 IESE MBA Capstone Project
  • Winner of the IESE-BCG Case Writing Competition

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? As part of the Student Council, we were faced with unexpected challenges when COVID hit. I am most proud of our reaction to the crisis, how we were able to listen to the students’ concerns and work with the MBA administration to mitigate some of the effects of the pandemic and the transition to online classes. We established a strong relationship between the MBA Office and the Student Council that allowed us to take concrete actions to improve our MBA experience. We met with them every week to address the issues that students were facing. We gave students the possibility to defer the last term of the first year, partially or fully. With these options, students who were more affected by the pandemic could elect to postpone classes until the following year to be able to attend them in person. We also surveyed the students on ways to improve the MBA despite the COVID crisis. Many of the suggestions have been put into place, notably, better availability for popular second year electives, a flexible payment schedule for second year fees, better guest speakers for our leadership events and we communicated best practices for online teaching to all professors. We establish this channel of open communication making it efficient for us to transmit student’s grievances and act to improve the situation.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? My proudest achievement is the mentoring and impact I had on the local junior engineers and technicians I worked with over the years. I worked as a mining engineer on gold mines in West Africa before the MBA. As an expatriate, I always believed that part of my job was to give back to the local staff as much as possible. It can be easy to get lost in the day-to-day activities, but I made it a point to establish clear development targets for my teams. My goal was to make it possible for them to eventually have all the technical skills required to take my job. In my last company, I put into action a plan to train and upskill the four junior engineers. By the time I left, they were all able to do my job with limited supervision. Overall, I worked with many local engineers and technicians over the years and I am proud to see that many of them were promoted to take on bigger responsibilities.

Why did you choose this business school? For me it was very easy to choose IESE. There were many reasons why I was attracted by this particular business school, but the most important aspect was certainly the strong international focus of the program. In my previous life, working as an expatriate, I had the chance to collaborate with colleagues form around the world and I saw the value of diversity in teams. With over 50 nationalities represented each year, this is at the core of IESE’s community. Additionally, as in many European program, IESE teaches business with a global perspective and that was what I was looking for.

I wanted a 2-year MBA program with a general management focus and IESE’s values and spirit of service resonated with me as well. IESE easily ticked all the boxes, including being located in sunny Barcelona, which made it easy for me when I had to make a decision.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? There are many excellent professors at IESE, so it’s a difficult decision. I was fortunate to actually have my favorite professor twice in the first year. Professor Inés Alegre taught me Decision Analysis in the first term and Business Analytics in our 3rd term. She is truly and authentically dedicated to her students and will not hesitate to go the extra mile to ensure our success in and out of the classroom. I remember one class in November, a time when everyone was extremely busy because the consulting and banking internship applications were due, few people had prepared the case, so she briefly stopped the lecture to talk to us. She could see that we were all very stressed and took time to help us put things in perspective. She sees the same situation repeat every year and hearing what matters from an outside point of view was helpful to put things in perspective. Even when we moved online, she not only welcomed, but actively sought feedback and ways to improve her teaching methods. She went the extra mile to make sure we understood the material and that the class remained engaging. That’s who Professor Alegre is: she cares about us not only as students, but also as individuals.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I don’t think there is much I would like to change about my MBA experience. Despite the difficult circumstances I think I have made the best of it. I managed to find a good balance between academic, social, and professional activities of the MBA. If I would have to pick one thing, I wish I would have spent more time exploring other professional paths other than consulting in the first year. Recruiting for consulting is demanding, but I feel I could have better leveraged the great networking opportunities that IESE offers to discover different industries.

What surprised you the most about business school? I was surprised by how approachable everyone is! We all come from different cultural and professional backgrounds and yet everyone is keen and eager to collaborate. I believe that every student at IESE is open and willing to help others, which was refreshing to see. I had this perception that MBA students were all competitive and that not everyone necessarily gets along, and I can say that I have not experienced this at IESE.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? One morning a few weeks before my IESE application was due, I invited two of my closest friends for brunch to review my CV and my motivation letters. They’ve known me for a very long time, and I think they have a good view of my strengths and weaknesses. One had completed his MBA and the other had a master’s in finance, so they both had some experience in this type of application. We spent about four hours in the restaurant going over my essays. They proceeded to kindly rip to pieces what I had written, but in the process pushed me to write much better essays. They knew what I was worth, showed me not to sell myself short, and really gave me a different perspective of what I could bring to an MBA class. I think that reaching out to people that know me well and that have no problem giving me direct feedback pushed me to present a much better application.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? My IESE class is full of exceptional people. If I had to choose one peer, I would pick my teammate Daran Lima. I had the pleasure of working closely with Daran on cases, projects, and presentations all throughout the first year, and I can say he is one of the most dedicated and resilient people I know. In our first term, he would go above and beyond building financial models for cases, preparing presentations, and going to bed at crazy hours working on assignments. He was always ready to discuss, debate, and share with us his experience and push our team to be better. Daran showed his dedication when he became the Executive VP of the Consulting Club, the biggest club at IESE. I saw him work toward the success of the club and support its members tirelessly. Daran also showed extreme resilience when the consulting internship he had worked so hard to secure was cancelled due to COVID. He didn’t let that stop him, he got himself a great internship during the summer and then proceeded to receive a full-time offer for his dream consulting job in London. His willingness to help and easy-going attitude makes Daran a great friend and someone that I enjoy hanging out with.

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? On the academic side, IESE already had a plan in place even before we went online, so it definitely mitigated some of the challenges of the transition. Logistically and technically everything was ready for us to go online, so the transition was pretty smooth. I think the hardest part for everyone was not knowing how long we would be online for. The uncertainty weighed heavily on everyone’s shoulders. When we did realize that we would be online for a long time, I believe everybody, students and faculty, tried to make the best of the situation. As class representative, we gathered feedback and best practices that we share with the professors to try to improve the online teaching experience. I can say that all our professors were really dedicated to adapting their teaching for the online setting. IESE has also been very proactive in making sure we could return to in person classes as soon as possible. We returned to campus for the summer term in June and IESE has been able to remain open and deliver classes in person since.

On the social side, it’s clear that the pandemic and lockdown were immensely disruptive. We have all chosen to do an MBA in part because of the networking and social aspect of it and that’s the part of the experience that was taken away by the pandemic.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My dad completed his MBA when I was 5 years old and he obviously did it in a very different situation, raising three kids, working full-time, and taking MBA credits in the evening. He definitely had the biggest influence on me going to business school. I saw the kind of career he had, how he was able to transfer between industries, and how he could easily grasp the most complex topics. Since I was a kid, I always saw the MBA as a way for me to achieve these and I knew that I would want to follow the same path.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? First, looking forward in my career I would like to go back and work again in West Africa. There are probably many different ways for me to achieve this, but I’d like the chance to work on developing businesses in the region and helping entrepreneurs grow their companies to improve their communities.

Second, perhaps more as a retirement project, but I’m passionate about whisky and it would be a dream for me to be able to start my own artisanal distillery.

What made Marc-Olivier such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021?

“In my time getting to know Marc-Olivier personally and professionally, he stood out from an already very strong group of students. He was invaluable as a member in the Consulting Club, where he was managing an atypical Fall Internship with a seemingly unlimited supply of mock interview and CV/CL requests; and he made that look easy. He has an incredibly unique perspective, having worked 4+ years as an engineer in West African gold mines. He combines this perspective with a strong blend of work ethic, wit, and humility – making him both very approachable and incredibly talented. In fact, this blend of traits will be exactly what gets him far; in a sea of large yet (sometimes) erratic MBA personalities, Marc-Olivier has built a steadfast presence that will allow him to continue to achieve beyond expectations.”

Michael Mascarenhas
Associate Director
Career Development Center, Consulting

“I met Marco early into his MBA journey, when he was nominated to the Student Council of his 2021 Class. Since then Marco has been a remarkable contributor to the IESE community mostly through his demanding role in the Council. During his first year in the MBA, one that brought numerous challenges due to the global pandemic, Marco was a key ally to the MBA Committee and helping us overcome them. He is a positive, hard-working team player, always ready to help with a smile on his face and with a humble approach. These attributes were crucial in the countless meetings that the school leadership and the Council had to navigate the hectic lock-down weeks, such as when together we implemented a temporary transition to online and then afterwards the return to face-to face classes, to name just a couple. He has also been a remarkable contributor to the IESE MBA community through his extremely active role in the Consulting Club, helping so many peer students to prepare for interviews and to succeed in consulting recruitment. Marco is a vivid example of what spirit of service truly means and I am thankful, proud and sure that he will continue to live IESE’s values in his future endeavors.”

Marta Escardo
Executive Director MBA Program at IESE Business School and MBA (2001)

DON’T MISS: 100 BEST & BRIGHTEST MBAS: CLASS OF 2021