Magali De Jaegher: From Utilities to Startup
August 30, 2017
August 30, 2017
In the space of five years, Magali De Jaegher‘s career journey has already spanned the corporate and startup worlds.
Intuition led her to Accenture as a graduate. Four years later, it led her to a new role as Head of Operations for the food-tech startup Take Eat Easy, that grew in three years from 10 to 160 people, and from 2 to 20 cities reaching 350,000 customers.
Magali De Jaegher at a glance
Project manager | Business Optimizer
Expertise: Process optimization, business innovation, project planning, change management, operational excellence, startup environment.
Besides the challenge and learning opportunities, the main differentiator of Accenture over other companies was the people. I immediately felt an affinity, so I followed my intuition and joined…
My strongest memory is of my first Accenture project in 2011. I must admit I wasn’t keen about joining a project in Auvelais; it seemed very far away from my dear Brussels! But once there, it was a great experience, especially because of all the things I learned such as project and team management, implementation, how to work with different types of profiles, etc. Above all, it’s my strongest memory because we were a great team of colleagues and became (still to this day) a great team of friends!
In fact I participated twice, first in 2012 and then in 2015! This internal initiative allows Accenture people to test and develop their entrepreneurial ideas. My idea in 2015 was for a digital platform enabling people producing more electricity then they needed for personal consumption to donate the surplus to people in need. I wasn’t thinking about making stepping into a startup, but looking back it seems like colleagues around me already knew this would happen one day.
When I joined Take Eat Easy, my main objective was to bring structure and an optimization mindset to a smaller organization than I was used to working with at Accenture. I wanted to increase its scalability, efficiency and thereby its chances to succeed in its growth strategy. Take Eat Easy had a very efficient restaurant selection process enabling it to offer quality and trendy meals to its customers. It also had an excellent algorithm that ensured that customer orders were sent at the most appropriate time to partner restaurants to allow enough preparation time and no waiting time, plus sending the delivery order to the most appropriate couriers so that all deliveries would arrive on time and warm at the customer homes/offices.
The biggest challenge I encountered was the high number of both operational and strategic tasks you need to handle in a startup, although I found the experience interesting and exciting! In terms of achievements, three stand out: (1) the improvement of our processes in Brussels in order to quickly reach efficiency and scalability, and then to use those processes in the launch of three new cities (Liège, Antwerp & Ghent); (2), the successful launch of those three cities in a few months; and (3), a full review and adaptation of our courier payment processes and tools in order to adapt to new requirements.
It was very tough and sad for the team. Everyone at Take Eat Easy can be proud of what they achieved. Personally, the experience taught me two lessons: firstly, VC funding is not an easy process and a startup should have business angels and senior advisers present to help in this process. Secondly, the importance of transparent communications: keeping the team informed is key to maintaining motivation during tough times; it can literally be the make or break of whether a team will fight for a company or not. We all believed in Take Eat Easy and fought until the very last day to keep the company going.
In my opinion, it’s mainly about the relationship you build with your customers (acquiring them via the quality of your product and trendy image / retaining them via the quality of your service and product) and your partners (building trusting, long-term relationships). Get these right and you make it more difficult for your competitors to steal your customers/partners. Another key success factor is finance: you need to make profit to be successful! This is only possible if you correctly manage your service end-to-end. Defects can have a direct financial impact. For example, in the case of Take Eat Easy, if we delivered the wrong meal, the courier would need to go back to the restaurant or we’d have to reimburse the customer and issue an additional promo code. To sum up, a trendy marketing approach, a great relationship with your customers/partners and operational excellence.
When Take Eat Easy ceased its operations, most of the startups calling up to recruit us were located in London or Paris! Startups in Belgium still encounter a lot of difficulties (for example at Take Eat Easy we struggled with the status of our couriers). The government should listen more carefully to startups and learn from them. This would make it easier for entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, which in turn will lead to job creation and a more dynamic startup environment.
I found some great friends at Accenture and also my career mentor, and we still meet regularly. The Alumni Network helps me to stay in touch with other people I see less often, but whom I’m always happy to hear from. Accenture Alumni have such interesting career paths, and I find it inspiring to hear about what they are doing! And who knows, it might even lead me to my next job.
Join us on www.accenturealumni.com