Conny Vandendriessche and Jonas Dhaenens win the 2019 Vlerick Award

During an award show at the Faculty Club in Leuven on Wednesday 2nd October, the winners of the 19th edition of the Vlerick Award were announced in the presence of numerous business leaders and alumni. The Vlerick Enterprising Leader Award went to Conny Vandendriessche, co-founder of Accent Jobs – The House of HR, managing director of Stella P. and partner of We Are Jane. Jonas Dhaenens, co-founder and CEO of, received the Vlerick Venture Award. The Vlerick Award is presented annually by Vlerick Business School as a tribute to two successful Vlerick alumni who, as entrepreneurs and business leaders, are at the helm of fast-growing organisations.

With the Vlerick Enterprising Leader Award, Vlerick Business School honours a business leader and Vlerick alumnus with a convincing track record in leadership and entrepreneurship, whose organisation has a positive impact on society. The company has grown into a major, strong player at the top in a sustainable way.

Vlerick Award 2019 - Conny Vandendriessche
Professor Hans Crijns hands over the Vlerick Enterprising Leader Award to Conny Vandendriessche

Conny Vandendriessche: “I am very honoured to receive the Vlerick Enterprising Leader Award. The programmes and Vlerick’s network played a major role in my development and growth as an entrepreneur. 25 years ago I was present at the birth of Accent Jobs, now part of the fast-growing, international group House of HR. As the founder of Stella P., I also help business leaders to find the right external directors. I can always count on a great team of people when doing so. Finally, for me the award is also a tribute to women in business. Over the years, I have become a role model for female entrepreneurs. With the establishment of the investment fund We Are Jane, I can now support the growth of tomorrow’s female entrepreneurs not only on the basis of my experience, but also financially. I would like to thank all the people in my teams and my fellow entrepreneurs, because they have helped to make me the leader I am today.” 

The Vlerick Venture Award puts a young, enterprising Vlerick alumnus in the spotlight as the owner or founder of a rapidly growing company that has a positive impact on our society.

Vlerick Award 2019 - Jonas Dhaenens

Jonas Dhaenens: “It’s fantastic to receive this award. First and foremost, I would like to thank everyone who voted for me. I feel very honoured. Each and every one of my fellow nominees also deserves to win this prize. It's great confirmation of all our initiatives and the hard work that we carry out on a daily basis. I am proud of what we have achieved with Combell and will continue to achieve in the future with After 20 years, I am still very ambitious to expand on the next growth phase of the business. However, we would never have been able to achieve this success without our extremely enthusiastic team that works hard for our customers both day and night. I am very grateful to receive this award, and I dedicate it in particular to all my colleagues at”

The nominees for the Vlerick Award 2019 were put forward by the broad community of Vlerick alumni after a call for candidates. After an evaluation by the jury, which consisted of Vlerick professors, previous winners of the Vlerick Award and corporate partners of the school, Conny Vandendriessche and Jonas Dhaenens were ultimately designated as the winners.

Hans Crijns, Professor of Entrepreneurship at Vlerick Business School and chairman of the jury: “Our credo follows in the spirit of our founder Professor André Vlerick, who said: ‘It is the courage to be enterprising that allows each individual to develop his or her creative talent and guarantees progress.’ With her authentic personality and constant craving for new initiatives and growth, Conny Vandendriessche is a role model for female entrepreneurs. Jonas Dhaenens is an example of a self-made entrepreneur who from an early age has quickly grown both Combell and into global players thanks to his vision and ambition. Vlerick Business School is therefore proud to have played a role in the growth of these two entrepreneurs. They can serve to inspire all our students and alumni to develop their entrepreneurial mindset.”

Other nominees for the Vlerick Enterprising Leader Award 2019:
  • Mark Vandecruys (Fedrus International)
  • Tim Van Hauwermeiren (argenx)
  • Bart Verhaeghe (entrepreneur and chairman of Club Bruges and Uplace)
Other nominees for the Vlerick Venture Award 2019:
  • Quentin Colmant (Qover)
  • Jurgen Degrande (Edgar & Cooper)
  • Daan De Wever (Destiny)
  • Philippe Jans (Biolectric)
  • Louis Jonckheere (Showpad)
  • Arnoud Raskin (Streetwize; Mobile School)
  • Anna Shaposhnikova (Transmetrics)
  • Jeroen Spitaels (Mealhero)
  • Felix Van de Maele (Collibra)
  • Jean-Charles Velghe (Qover)
About Conny Vandendriessche

Conny was born on 23 May 1964 in Roeselare. She grew up in an enterprising family of florists. She spent the first five years of her career at Adia (now Adecco). After this, she wanted to make her own mark on the temporary staffing market. She did so by setting up Accent together with her colleague Philip Cracco. Aimé Desimpel believed in their concept and also decided to invest at that time. 20 years later, the House of HR had 500 branches, 2,580 employees and a consolidated turnover of 1.7 billion euros. The affiliated companies include Logi technic, Peak, Abylsen, Continu, HCG group, Vialegis, Zaquensis, Covebo, Time Partner and Accent jobs. All these companies specialise in the temping sector or outsourcing. After an intense career, the private equity player Naxicap joined in 2102 and took a majority shareholding. Conny has also passed on the baton to Rika Coppens.

But entrepreneurship is addictive for Conny, which is why she launched a new passion with Stella P. ("Building Better Boards") at the age of 50. Stella Polaris literally means pole star: a fixed anchor point, a sign that gives a sense of stability. With Stella P., she searches for the right external director or consultant with the right expertise and transfers this experience into a Board of Directors/Advisory Board. Conny believes in rotation, rejuvenation and diversity in a board. She is also personally on a number of boards such as House of HR/Accent, Orac, Televic and De Rocker Logistics.

In 2019, she set up ‘We Are Jane’ together with Muriel Uytterhaegen and Eline Talboom. This European fund for and by women aims to give female entrepreneurs a helping hand.

Her motto is: Dream, Think, Dare, Do, Persevere and .... Share.
When she's not working, she enjoys spending time on the coast. She also relishes spending time with the two great loves of her life, her son Matthijs and her husband.

About Jonas Dhaenens

Jonas was born on 5 November 1982. In 1999, at the age of 16, he wanted to build a website for his father’s insurance company. This proved a very cumbersome procedure, which gave him the idea of starting Combell and simplifying the process. Combell grew year after year and specialised in domain names, e-mail and hosting solutions for businesses.

In 2015, the venture capital fund Waterland invested in Combell, which has since grown into the group Intelligent. Between the establishment of Combell in 1999 and the arrival of Waterland in 2015, Jonas carried out 25 relatively small acquisitions with Combell. From 2015, with Waterland on the scene, this was followed by another 20 larger acquisitions. In 2018, Intelligent was split into the Combell Group and Sentia Group and at the end of 2018 Waterland was replaced by another fund, the British Hg. Jonas continued as CEO with the Combell Group in order to lead it into a new growth phase.

This new growth phase gained further shape with the merger of Combell Group with the Dutch TransIP Group in 2019, continuing under the new name “”. At the end of September they were joined by Register Group that has a particularly strong presence in Italy, Spain and the UK. As a result, now serves 2 million customers in 10 European countries and has a consolidated turnover of €275 million.
In addition to, Jonas also invests in several tech and non-tech businesses. He also likes to invest in real estate and has three young children.

Related news

  1. “Give your dream a big hug”

    Date: 13/11/2018
    Category: Alumni News
    After working for five years in Beirut, Elias Maalouli knows he wants to set up his own business. When he decides to take a Masters in Innovation & Entrepreneurship in 2016, he embarks on his journey as an entrepreneur. In September 2018, he launches FoundersBei, a co-working space in Beirut.
  2. Say no to waste. Serve a vegetable dip!

    Date: 08/08/2018
    Category: Alumni News
    Globally, a third of all food is thrown away. 45% of fruit and vegetables end up in the bin. For our Masters alumnus Helena Gheeraert, demonstrations, petitions or opinion pieces were not enough to make a difference. Helena actually wanted to roll up her sleeves and get stuck in. The result: Wonky, a range of delicious and healthy dips made of vegetables which would otherwise be thrown away. Not only less food is wasted, but it makes healthy snacking a lot easier too.
All articles