Officially a graduate, and a Master of Business Administration!

Last day of the MBA: Mixed feelings. So happy to get at the end of this challenging journey, but also sad to have to close this chapter of my life and say goodbye to many good friends.

It’s time now to start writing the next chapter of my life and catch the great opportunities in front of me that I have been working for. This MBA has been so much more than a degree but a life changing experience.

These last 18 months have been a tremendous adventure. Now it’s over, but the important thing is that the end of an experience leaves a memory so good that it lives in the heart. I’m so grateful to all of the people that have crossed my path ! This has probably been the best 2 years of my life!

Thank you so much to all the people that have been supporting me during the whole process. First of all I want to thank my wife for her unconditional support! She probably deserves this degree even more than I do. She has been there at all times: encouraging me in though moments, preparing good food, raising our son, waking up at night for the baby in order to give me a few more hours of sleep, … I want to thank her so much for that.

These two years have probably been the most difficult one of my life in terms of hard work. But they have certainly also been one of the most beautiful ! Special thank to C2 family for spending the journey together, working hard and binding long lasting friendships together ! You have allowed me to grow personally and professionnally thanks to all your different characters that were all examples to me !

I also have special thoughts to all the friends I have been spending time outside of class hours. Were it in the mountains close to Barcelona or at the other side of the Atlantic. Thanks for following me in my crazy ideas, even if sometimes I’m a bit too crazy and I end up breaking my arm 😉

I can’t omit mentioning the IESE Entrepreneurs’ Club. Running this club and putting all my energy for making IESE Business School a little bit more entrepreneurial was a challenging bet. But along the process I must admit that I had the chance to meet with amazing people from IESE and outside of IESE that really inspired me and gave me the energy to move this forward. I hope that I was able to sow some seeds in the minds of other people showing them the way to start their own business ideas !

Finally I want also to thank all the remarkable individuals of our class who were by my side in so many occasions, from class work, to drinks and long philosophical discussions. It has been a real pleasure meeting you all. After building those friendships our new mission is to stay in touch wherever we decide to go for our next professionnal step.

Thank you to everyone who took this journey with me. I am forever changed.

Social media and the raise of extremism

Wait! What? Extremism and social media in the same sentence seems a bit strange right? Indeed, social media tends to refer to freedom of speech and openness; Extremism on the opposite refer to racism or closed mind, …

Well yes, I see a correlation between the rise of social media and the rise of extremism and I will tell you why! Let me explain you.

The problem of suggestion algorithms

In the old times, when you used to read the newspaper to get informed, or even when you used to watch TV you were bombarded with a lot of information. Some of which was interesting to you, some not. But at least you were aware of what happened in the world in a kind of generic way. Even if you were more interested in the results of the last football championship than in the presidential elections, you could not avoid reading the cover page of the newspaper with the face of your new president. You had still the freedom to chose which TV channel or which newspaper to buy in function of your affinities, but in general you tended to be a little bit informed in an objective way.

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How cybersecurity is playing a role in global geopolitics – ProtonMail case

Global context – Why cybersecurity is more important than ever?

Terrorism, with its footprint in global scale from 9/11 in New York to ISIS Paris attacks, has put security the top issue of governments worldwide. The Paris attacker’s final text message claiming the start of the attacks, which was founded in the phone dumped near to the attacked place, is a strong argument for strengthening cybersecurity and building up national surveillance.

However, the pervasive secret surveillance programs have given rise to the debate on privacy and the legitimacy of such programs to allow governments to collect private data of citizens, as well as foreigners in some cases, who are not suspected of any connection to terrorism or any wrongdoing. PRISM, the top classified program, is the largest surveillance initiated by the President Bush after 9/11. The whistleblower, Edward Snowden, who was a former NSA (National Security Agency) contractor, has risked his career and life to challenge the privacy as one of the fundamental human rights in the digital age. He revealed that the NSA was not only scanning suspicious Americans, but virtually everyone that was communicating on the network.

It’s been nearly three months since Edward Snowden started telling the world about the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance of global communications. But the latest disclosures, by the Guardian, New York Times, and ProPublica are perhaps the most profound yet: the N.S.A. and its partner agency in the United Kingdom, the Government Communications Headquarters, possess significant capabilities to circumvent widely used encryption software in order to access private data. (The New Yorker: How the N.S.A. Cracked the web)

Email, as one of the most important communications channel, has gained a lot of attention in the US presidential campaign in 2017. Especially, the Clinton’s email scandal and Wikileaks about her emails have accelerated the debates about security and privacy. Yet, regardless of the scandal, both Clinton and Trump stated in the campaign that cybersecurity would be top issue to address in their presidential agenda: how to work with tech companies to protect cross-border data flow without jeopardizing citizens’ privacy.

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Artificial intelligence is taking over us!

Will the world champion of Go get beaten by a computer soon?

I try to follow the news about machine learning and artificial intelligence. Recently I saw some interesting news! A computer managed to beat the European champion of Go! It’s not yet the World Champion, but we’re getting there quickly: the challenge is planned for March !

Go is harder than chess, and the concensus among scientists was that this was going to happen in a dozen of years only. The game of Go has long been viewed as the most challenging of classic games for artificial intelligence owing to its enormous search space and the difficulty of evaluating board position and moves. The program combines the recent developments in deep learning and an intelligent research to be several rounds in advance of the other player.

This was published in Nature magazine here.

What about artificial intelligence in Poker?

Texas hold’em (also known as Texas holdem, hold ’em, or holdem) is a variation of the standard card game of poker. Games like Poker is a family of games that exhibit imperfect information, where players do not have full knowledge of past events. Whereas many perfect-information games have been solved since a long time (e.g., Connect Four and checkers), no nontrivial imperfect-information game played competitively by humans has previously been solved. But this has recenlty been solved too : a team managed to completely caracterise optimal strategies in all the possible configurations of the game (See « Heads-up limit hold’em poker is solved« ).

Should we worry?

This would certainly not reduce the attractiveness of those games for human being: it’s not because we invented cars that we stopped walking nor running. But the areas where human are still stronger that the machine tends to be reduced more and more. We still have a big adventage: the supercalculator in our brain is only consuming 50 W, which is 1 billion times less than our computers.

finger me Artificial Intelligence

But maybe the first intelligent species that the human will meet is one that he will create himself …

Business management for human beings

Building companies fit for the future is building companies for human beings

Employee centric management

Management innovation can only be done by challenging current approaches. How many times did you heard about « customer first », « customer is king », … Are we sure this is the only way? Is this always the right way? It is certainly a good way to do business because it has been proven by lots of successful businesses.

What about the employee? Do we care about him? Why is « burnout » employees the new normal? Why do most companies squeeze their human resources as much as possible before changing them? What is the root of this problem? Maybe they squeeze their employees because they know that their employees will leave at some point … why? Because we don’t care about them !!

What if one tries to put the employee first? A happy employee will do a better work and serve the customer better. He will also stay longer, keep and develop his knowledge and develop confidence around him about the product. Worth trying huh!?

Well apparently this is something that some companies start to try. And I think it could become a new standard !! There is no reason to continue squeezing employees … there is no reason working becomes unhealthy !! Have a look at the video below to get convinced 🙂

Have also a look on some interesting comments in the feed of the video here.

Business creativity

But what about motivation? Most common beliefs are that the more you reward people, the more people will be motivated. And this is apparently true, but not in any situation. This is only true for mechanical tasks. When it comes to creativity, it’s another story.

Surprisingly money don’t make people more creative !! You have to give them free time and confort ! So guess what? We are again speaking about caring about your employees if you want more creativity in your work environment. This is aligned !!

So keep in mind that customer satisfaction is key for business, but employee satisfaction is key for survival !! Which one is the most important? I don’t know ! But make sure you keep both on top of your priorities as a business leader.

Why is our democracy outdated?

I’ve always had a strong interest for public affairs, democracy, and in particular for the decision mechanisms used by our governments. I like studying history, and find the evolution through which ordinary citizens progressively got their voices heard a fascinating (and loose end) subject.

Luckily, I was born in Belgium, a democratic country, at peace since 1945. Our grandparents fought wars to defend some ideals, and thanks to their sacrifices we are now able to peacefully debate and promote our ideas. I was hence convinced that our democratic process was nearly perfect, and accepted with great enthusiasm when I got called for civic duty in May 2014 general elections.

Observing the election mechanics from the inside, I discovered an absolutely appalling voting process which completely broke my illusions. It was a total farce. I was serving in one of the “pioneer” precincts for electronic voting: to comply with Belgian law, the referendum was processed on 20+ year old machines, using magnetic tape bands, a system so rudimentary and fragile that many votes got misreported or lost due to wrong manipulations. The complexity of voting was such that countless people left the poll stations without having the certitude that their choices were being accounted for.

Furthermore, people didn’t vote for ideas, and few had a good understanding of who most closely represented their opinions. Rather, they would choose easy to remember names, or faces they recognized from TV, basically giving their voices to those politicians with the best media exposure and the most recognizable faces. That day, I understood why Belgium’s outgoing Prime Minister was invariably wearing a bow tie.

I was appalled at the complete disconnect between the electoral process and the basic notion of participative democracy, where decision makers should review ideas and promote them if a majority of their constituents feel positively about them. The lack of transparency in the voting process, and the difficulties in recognizing who defends which ideas could easily be solved simply by adopting some of today’s established technologies. I found that our politicians are expert communicators through Twitter and Facebook when it comes to spreading their ideas, but deliberately behind in their listening abilities.

I was of course aware of these shortcomings, but never realized to which point they completely distorted the democratic process. Through my civic duty experience, I came to the realization that I had the technical tools, the project management skills and above all the emotional drive to create a better solution. I want to enable every citizen to “audit” any politician’s past actions and positions. Furthermore, I want to create solutions that allow to “match” a politician’s stances with our own, simply through semantic analysis of the “big data” trail we leave behind, such as comments on news pieces or other public information. I basically want to enable the democratic process to function as it should. I am full of ideas to empower democracy 2.0, and I’m surprised of the lack of people working on that to focus their entrepreneurial energy.