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Alumnus in the spotlight

INGRID TIERENS

Job:
Managing director at Goldman Sachs, New York City

Class of:
1990 - Commercial Engineer

Alumnus:
Patron Member, KU Leuven US Alumni

Lives in:
New Providence, NJ
 
"I have met some alumni from Leuven in the US in the least expected way - I remember the time at a Barnes & Noble, wearing my Leuven sweatshirt, when someone said: 'Hey, you are from Leuven too!'. It turned out that he had studied with one of my brothers."

In a nutshell
She grew up in Puurs, a small town in the province of Antwerp, between Antwerp, Mechelen and Sint-Niklaas. She lived "under the church tower" as they say in Flemish, and went to school very close to home until she headed to Leuven.
During her Commercial Engineering studies, she decided to go abroad to pursue a PhD. She applied at several prestigious schools in the USA and got accepted at most of them. Thanks to a BAEF (Belgian American Education Foundation) scholarship and the advice from Prof. Vanthienen, she started at the University of Chicago and earned both an MBA and a PhD in finance. She also taught some courses to MBA students during her PhD work. 
"At that time, many Belgians were studying at UChicago, and it was fun to be part of that Belgian contingent. Not only was the Belgian community well represented, but it also organized many events, including the extremely popular Belgian Halloween Party". 

In her 4th year, around Christmas break, she was approached by the London branch of JP Morgan and landed a job offer. She negotiated to be able to finish her PhD but meanwhile moved to London, where she met her husband who is an American citizen. 

Seven years later, she moved back to the United States with her husband and started working for Goldman Sachs, where she held various positions in the past 15 years. Ingrid and her husband have 2 girls, five and eight years old.

Helping our future alumni
"For a few years, Leuven alumni at Goldman Sachs in New York hosted a group of senior Economics students visiting New York City. We gave them an overview of the firm and "the floor". While it was a great experience to be involved in supporting prospective alumni from Leuven,  the timing and approach was not optimal," Ingrid says. "Visiting US companies in February of their senior (last) year is too little too late for those serious about starting their career the same summer. These things have to prepared much longer in advance."

Ingrid makes a good point. The recruiting process at companies like Goldman Sachs is extremely competitive and selective. In order to give the right talent from Leuven the best chances for success, we may need to rethink our strategy and install a pre-selection process for bright and motivated candidates who truly want to apply for companies such as those.

"While the dialog with KU Leuven has started to help make that happen, the US Chapter of our Alumni Association could be of valuable help. We Belgians have too little experience in long-term planning for academics and industry careers, and we - myself and other alumni - would be delighted to share our experiences from living in the USA. Leuven delivers great quality, and Leuven students stand a real chance in applying for continuing education at a top university in the US or working for a US company."

"The KU Leuven Alumni US Chapter event in September motivated me to read Utopia. Very interesting. The world hasn't changed much - people are still struggling with the same issues as 500 years ago. Remarkable when you think of it that Thomas More wrote something so contemporary."


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