A GEMBA ’19 on applying his business knowledge to make a difference in the life sciences
October 1, 2019
A few years ago, Renaud Jacquemart (GEMBA ’19) felt compelled to do more.
Trained as a scientist and engineer, Jacquemart had spent most of his career focused on the technical aspects of developing therapies and vaccines. While most of this work resulted in cutting manufacturing costs, he was frustrated to find that several medical products still weren’t affordable to patients, or were putting a strain on healthcare systems.
“My interest shifted from technology to making biologic therapies more accessible and affordable,” says Jacquemart. “Working in technical roles, I had little say in how these products were sold and distributed. To make a real impact, I needed to understand the business side.”
As he advanced in his career, taking on leadership roles rooted in the technical side of life sciences and working in several countries, he read more about management concepts and strategy. Still, Jacquemart knew he needed a strong business education to truly make a difference in the industry. The 18-month Global Executive MBA (GEMBA) program at Rotman, which takes students around the world on residential learning modules to learn about business in a global context, instantly appealed to him.
“The entire program — the idea of walking off the plane into a classroom, making connections with new contacts across the globe and spending packed days focused on addressing global business challenges and developing my soft skills — was perfect. I knew this was the program for me.”
The move to come to Rotman became the foundation for a much larger career and life change, and it set him up for an exciting future.
Focus on hands-on learning and leadership transformation
When Jacquemart first entered the MBA program, he figured he’d spend most of his time studying cases, reading from textbooks or sitting in lectures. Surprisingly, his professors encouraged him to work on projects that he was passionate about as part of his program.
Pushing students to roll up their sleeves and tackle ambitious projects is a common theme in the program. Even as the program evolves — the Rotman School and SDA Bocconi School of Management recently launched the new Global Executive MBA program — incoming students can still expect the same focus on innovation, global business trends and hands-on learning, through international travel and networking.
“The Global Executive MBA was a transformative experience that helped me implement my vision of making a sustainable impact on global health.”
—Renaud Jacquemart, GEMBA ’19
Jacquemart experienced this first-hand. During one residential module in South Africa, Professors Richard Blundell and Beatrix Dart encouraged him to analyze a real business problem he was dealing with at his organization for one of his assignments. They provided him with thoughtful advice on his newly-developed strategic plan, and Blundell even customized part of his lecture so Jacquemart might have some ideas on how to approach the topic.
“The set-up was perfect. My work projects became my assignments for the MBA. By going through the tools I learned in class and through exercises, I designed a strategy for my organization,” he says.
For his capstone project, which has students developing solutions for a business problem they have identified at the outset of the program, Jacquemart started to think about how to use his business skills to make an impact in the biosciences industry.
With the support of Professor Doug Hyatt, he and several teammates founded a consulting group that advises academic researchers and small startups on how to find funding and bring their ideas to market faster.
Pursuing purpose-driven work
As the pieces started to come together, Jacquemart’s progress was not limited to the classroom.
Inspired by the teachings from the first residential module and with encouragement from his classmates, he returned to work determined to take on a more active role and to pursue projects that would have greater reach. He began speaking up about the organization’s position in the market, current priorities and potential strategies.
A few months later, Jacquemart was offered a leadership role with the company’s headquarters in Germany. For the first time, he was overseeing marketing and strategy.
“The Global Executive MBA program is a game changer, and the results are immediate,” says Jacquemart. “I was presented with new opportunities once I started putting my ideas forward.”
Less than a year later, he was offered a senior leadership role. This time, he would be based in the Netherlands, driving international collaboration projects.
“Before the program, I might not have contributed to discussions — not because I didn’t have interesting things to say, but because I didn’t have the confidence to speak up. But module after module, I became more comfortable putting my ideas forward.”
“The leadership development program led by Professors Nouman Ashraf and Scott Rutherford, among others, contributed to my recent success.”
As he neared graduation, he was offered another exciting role that he couldn’t refuse. Today, as director of strategy and business development at BioVectra, which recently received support from the federal government for a $144 million expansion project, he’s in charge of determining the company’s future directions in biologic therapies in Windsor, NS and Charlottetown, PEI.
“I’m excited about multiplying the company’s capabilities and positioning it as a key player on the global stage,” says Jacquemart.
“It’s work that has impact. We’ll be bringing therapies to patients faster at lower costs, contributing to local communities by creating high-paying jobs, working with colleges and universities to develop a talent pipeline — and growing the company, all at the same time.”
To do this, he’ll need to leverage his Rotman education and draw on the global network he’s built to bring expertise and customers to Atlantic Canada.
Eventually, he does plan to work on the larger problem of providing affordable therapies to eradicate the diseases of poverty that are holding back economic development in the world’s poorest countries.
“I have a lot of work ahead of me and it might seem daunting, but I’m not fazed.”
Written by Rebecca Cheung | More Student Stories »