2017 Best EMBAs: Jean-Cyrille Droin, IESE Business School

Jean-Cyrille Droin

IESE Business School

“Life-long passionate entrepreneur, eager to contribute and make a difference for the people around me.”

Age: 50

Hometown: Bordeaux, Gironde, France

Family Members: married with two children, aged 17 and 22

Fun fact about yourself: I had been expelled from engineers school for starting an entrepreneur’s life.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Université Pierre et Marie Curie – Paris VI, Master’s degree in Chemistry

Undergraduate School: St Louis de Gonzague, Paris

Where are you currently working? I’m an independent project consultant for Laboratorios Diafarm S.A., Av.d’Arraona, 119-123, 08210 – Barberà del Vallés (Barcelona – Spain). They acquired my company in 2014 and I kept a part-time role to ease the transition and finish some ongoing projects.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles:

I’m a board member at Cosmebio (nonprofit association of organic cosmetic producers).

I was for many years a mentor for young entrepreneurs selected by “Aquitaine entreprendre” a French regional nonprofit incubator for SME’s

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? When I applied for the GEMBA, my scientific studies were a long gone memory and I was not so confident about my ability to master the needed level and achieve an effective performance. I’m very proud of the way I managed to adapt and focus on the required efforts to deliver and sustain what I believe is a nice performance level.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I started as an entrepreneur at the age of 26 by investing the funds I had saved from my first job in a leasing firm. I’m proud that 24 years later, after four LBOs’, I could achieve reasonable success in very diverse environments and sectors by applying a sort of adaptive learning technique.

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? My favorite course was Managerial Accounting. I loved the way it showed us how to look beyond numbers to take managerial decisions. Another aspect was also related to the potential missuse of numbers and how some ‘numeric’ decisions are linked with human behaviours and perceptions. I will always remember the importance of the contribution margin and the different behaviours linked to cost or profit centers in organisations.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? My first step into an international experience was to select a non-French business school and IESE made the difference to me with the warm, clear and structured admission process, on top of its humanistic approach towards business that could be felt from the first meetings. Executive education at IESE has an ethical approach, whereby you learn that success and money should not come by all means.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? I was very lucky to be in a great team and enjoyed the balance between very hard work, strong friendship and fun.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? I would say that you really need your family to be on board and to understand what it takes. Otherwise, your life will become a nightmare. You also need to take them into real consideration and prioritize them as well as the course and your regurlar work. What I mean by this is that all three matter equally (work, family and GEMBA) during this period and that balancing all is the priority. You cannot afford to fail any and this is the most difficult part.

I can illustrate this by giving a short example of the way I managed to attend an online team presentation. One day, I had a factory visit organised for work with people coming from abroad and from other locations in France. We were to finalise a range of products to be launched and a detailed audit was to take place on that day. All this was planned long in advance. Then I received the GEMBA schedule for a team presentation due at the beginning of the afternoon the same day. My family was also waiting for me to pick everyone up and go for a long weekend. Everything needed to be organised, bearing in mind the four hour driving time between all locations. It’s not rocket science, but I made sure that some of the factory visit audit work was done beforehand to reduce the time spent on site. I then attended the GEMBA team presentation preparation call while driving and parked in a motorway gas station to get remotely connected and participate in the online session using my laptop. I could then finish driving and pick up my family when they expected me to.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? That age matters. Only persistence and self-commitment do.

What was your biggest regret in business school? That it is coming to an end a lot quicker than expected. In a way, I have become addicted to the experience.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I will not name one but a triad, my In Company Project team (Aydin Bolkar, Alexey Tyupanov and Christian zu Salm-Horstmar), because we complement each other and we really stand out as a team. And I believe this is also a key learning from the Global Executive MBA – how to build strength through teams that are greater than the sum of individual qualities.

 “I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I passed my baccalaureate.”

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…incomplete and underperforming.”

What is your favorite company and what are they doing that makes them so special? Whole Foods Market for the vision they had in 1980 that organic and sustainability matters, and the scale they achieved combined with the exceptional diversity of products that they offer. They combine a strong business model with a mission to deliver healthy products with a lot of values attached (local production, fair trade, environmentally friendly, etc.).

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the executive MBA experience? I would invite more professors from other business schools to teach in modules taking place abroad

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Go international and scale a sustainable consumer products company

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My grandfather, for the entrepreneurial spirit he instilled in me

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? The hardworking trustworthy funny guy!

Favorite book: The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum

Favorite movie or television show: Fawlty Towers by John Cleese

Favorite musical performer: David Bowie

Favorite vacation spot: Le bassin d’Arcachon in France for it’s natural diversity

Hobbies? Tennis and skiing

What made Jean-Cyrille Droin such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“Jean-Cyrille is an outstanding example of a serial entrepreneur who has taken functioning concepts and evolved their business models into something that is extremely relevant to the consumer and thus of higher added value.

During my first conversation with Jean-Cyrille, I was taken aback by his unassuming, inquisitive and quiet personality, but as our conversation unfolded I perceived a very driven entrepreneur and also an outstanding gentleman.

Jean-Cyrille has gained the respect of faculty and his fellow class mates through his highly developed intellect, work ethic and his quiet but respectful approach to building relationships. He has generously offered his deep experience and insight in helping his class mates gain a deeper understanding of how different businesses may be approached and leveraged.”

María Isabel de Muller
Executive Director
IESE Global Executive MBA Program