Each year, the Best Final Project Awards of the International Master programmes are presented at the EADA Annual Meeting in November. For the 2018-2019 year, the winning group was made up of 6 participants from the International Master in Management: Thomas Cambier (Belgium), Maria Duarte da Silva (Portugal), Gilles Laconte (Belgium), Marta Pérez (Spain), Vasco Sanchez (Portugal) and Liesbeth Van Der Bauwhede (Belgium).
The final project was called Modelling.ms: AI driven lesion detection by Tensormedical, and was based on disruptive technology capable of automatically comparing and analysing brain scans from multiple sclerosis patients. The group worked as consultants to create the spin-off Tensormedical, helping the lead entrepreneur behind take their first steps into the market.
We interviewed 4 members of the winning team to find out which factors contributed to their success.
Does the project reflect what you have found in the professional world after EADA?
Thomas: Yes. This was the project with the longest timeframe at EADA, and careful planning was necessary. I have already encountered many projects in my current position at Volvo that require similar planning – I may have a lot of projects running simultaneously and I need to plan every milestone in order to prioritise.
The experience working in multicultural teams at EADA was also good practice for working in an international company, where I have to cooperate with diverse colleagues every day.
Liesbeth: Definitely! In my current position in consulting at Deloitte, I have already been involved in projects that require the same type of work as the final project at EADA. That is what makes the project so amazing: you learn so much, in so many different fields, that no matter what you do, the skills and knowledge that you have gained is valuable in your future career.
What is the most important thing that you learned from the project?
Gilles: The most important thing that I learned, which I try to incorporate every day at my position, is to dream big and to not be afraid of pushing boundaries. During the market research for Tensormedical, we got in touch with some of the most respected neurologists in Europe. Interviewing them was a big responsibility, but the process also provided some great new experiences. Having confidence in my abilities and not being afraid to ask questions has had a big impact on my career so far.
Thomas: For somebody like me with a scientific background, the final project was a great opportunity to learn about something completely new: the field of startups. It sparked an interest in me to possibly pursue my own business one day and provided the perfect environment to test all of the knowledge that we had learned throughout the year.
The most important thing that I learned was that with a good structure and positive teamwork, it really is possible to develop an amazing business plan and successfully launch a new business.
What was the most challenging aspect of the project? And the most rewarding?
Gilles: After months of work, seeing everything come together was very satisfying – presenting our project to a tribunal made up of entrepreneurs felt amazing. In the end, the most important thing for us became helping the entrepreneurs at Tensormedical as much as possible and seeing their happy faces after the presentation. This was the biggest reward that we could ask for.
Marta: For me, the most challenging part was the presentation. It seemed much easier to turn in a high quality written final project than to engage the public during a presentation. We had to integrate storytelling so that the audience could follow the presentation easily, while communicating a relaxed and prepared attitude at the same time.
For me, the most rewarding part was finishing the project –and the presentation– and seeing that there was an effective flow and consistency throughout.
What would you highlight about the teamwork in the project?
Gilles: The diversity in the backgrounds of our group members was key when making the group. It was really enjoyable to see how every person had his or her own impact on the final result. The group members pushed each other to do their best and we ended up with an explosion of creativity.
How did you find the work with the entrepreneurs from Tensormedical?
Liesbeth: Dr Sergi Valverde, future CEO of Tensormedical, was incredible to work with. He was not just an entrepreneur checking in because he had to; he was part of our team. This close collaboration was very important for the success of the project. He was always available for questions, and he trusted us.
Thomas: The enthusiasm of Dr Valverde was contagious, and it inspired us to keep going. Throughout the project, we would hit walls that forced us to think creatively. I am sure that these challenges were also the biggest rewards in the end. Every time we were able to solve the problems that we were facing, it inspired us to go on.
What role did EADA faculty play in the completion of the project?
Thomas: Faculty played an important role – not only did they make themselves available to meet, but our tutor provided crucial guidance throughout the whole project. The chief entrepreneur at Tensormedical also attended classes about business so that he was able to understand the work that our group was doing better.