Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Emeline Beltjens, IESE Business School

Emeline Beltjens

IESE Business School at the University of Navarra           

“Energy enthusiast, from a small country with big dreams.”

Hometown: Vossem, Belgium

Fun Fact About Yourself: I love plants. Before coming to IESE I had turned my balcony into a forest of sunflowers.

Undergraduate School and Major: Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Physics and Nuclear Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: AFRY Switzerland, Project engineer in the nuclear energy division. I was doing safety assessments for nuclear power plants.

What makes the case method so attractive as a means to learn and become a better manager? For me, the greatest value of the case method comes from the fact that they are all real business cases. It is a very practical approach to gaining knowledge and it makes you think about how you might have acted if you had been in a similar situation. You come with these ideas to class, to then maybe have your opinion completely changed through the arguments made by your classmates. I think that helps you identify your own blind spots, which in turn would help you become a better manager.

What has been your favorite part of Barcelona so far? What has made it such a great place to earn an MBA? Barcelona is such a beautiful and lively city and I really enjoy that there always seems to be something happening somewhere. In summer it’s the local festival of each Barrio; in winter it’s the Christmas markets and processions for the different celebrations. It is not too small and not too big, so it’s possible to walk or cycle to different places and the infrastructure for that is really good. It also helps that it’s terrace-weather all year long!

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of the IESE Business School MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? I initially got interested in IESE when I saw it ranked first in corporate and social responsibility. I wanted to join a school with a focus on sustainability and I found this at IESE in the form of their Sustainability & Responsible Business concentration.

The IESE MBA is known for heavy reading and rigorous academics. Has the program lived up to its reputation? What advice would you give to first-years to help them thrive in the early months of the program? It most surely did live up to that reputation! I have done challenging studies before, but at IESE the sheer volume of cases can feel overwhelming. What helped me the most was to be able to rely on my team for help to prepare the cases. We shared the load and would bring each other up to speed during team meetings.

What course, club or activity have you enjoyed the most so far at IESE? There are so many things to enjoy at IESE, probably too many, which makes it hard to make choices! But I really enjoyed the Energy Trek in November. It took place in Madrid and it was a great opportunity to spend time with students from other classes, while visiting a wide range of companies active in the energy sector. It was also combined with a networking event with alumni, which gave us great insights on the different careers that are possible in the sector.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: There is always a lot of documentation and verifications involved when it comes to safety assessment of nuclear power plants. For one of our clients, I was responsible for the workstream assessing the mechanical safety systems and summarizing the results in multiple reports. While working on this project, I additionally identified several areas of improvement to make plant information in the client’s database and documents more consistent. The resulting corrective measures were successfully implemented. It led not only to the approval by the regulator to extend the lifetime of the plant and allow it to supply decarbonized electricity for an additional 20 years, but also to an improved database, simplifying the work of the client’s engineers working on-site.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far: I am only five months in at this point, so I hope I have not yet achieved my biggest accomplishment. But a case that I wrote about gender imbalances as an assignment for the Leadership course was selected to be discussed in class. In my opinion it is a topic that is not yet well covered, so I was happy to have had the chance to bring it to class through a case. Otherwise, I would say that making it through the first term is also an accomplishment in itself!

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into the IESE MBA program?  I would strongly advise applicants to be authentic and clear about what they want and to ask themselves whether IESE is the right place to achieve that. For me, attending information sessions, panel discussions, and talking to alumni and students directly were all precious sources of information to understand if I could fit at IESE. Understanding this then also helped me frame my story so that the IESE admission team could also see that I was a fit for the school.


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