Nominees of the Vlerick Award 2016

Congratulations to Françoise Chombar (Melexis) on winning the Vlerick Award 2016!

Françoise Chombar, CEO of Melexis, won the Vlerick Award 2016. The audience – who was able to vote both via internet as well as live at the event – chose her, because she led her company as business leader in its market segment with sustained results to the top.

The central theme of the Vlerick Award 2016 was "Legacy & Promise": each of the nominees runs a company with a proud history and valuable legacy that must be safeguarded. At the same time, the company must also continue to develop and grow in order to fulfill the promise of the future. Read the full press release here.

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Our nominees of 2016...

Read their CVs and vote by clicking on the 'VOTE' button on the right-hand side of this page (this voting poll has been closed).

Françoise Chombar Ann & Bart Claes Eric Domb Rudi Pauwels
Françoise Chombar
Ann & Bart Claes
Eric Domb
Pairi Daiza
Rudi Pauwels
Read my CV Read my CV Read my CV Read my CV

Françoise Chombar

Françoise ChombarFrançoise Chombar (°1962) is the co-founder and has been the CEO of Melexis for 12 years. Before that she had been the COO of the company for 6 years.

Melexis is a mixed signal semiconductor manufacturer. It designs, develops, tests and markets advanced integrated semiconductor devices for the automotive industry. The core experience supplying ICs for automotive electronics sustains the expansion into Application Specific Standard Products for industrial and consumer product applications. The company enthusiastically pursues its role as a component supplier whose innovations are the essential element in nearly every one of its customers’ extraordinary systems. This is also reflected in the company’s slogan “We engineer the sustainable future”. Melexis’ products include sensor, communication, actuator ICs and Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs). The company employs about 1,100 employees worldwide and has its corporate headquarters in Belgium.

Before starting at Melexis, Ms Chombar worked for Elmos (a semiconductor vendor) in Germany, she was responsible for Production Planning and Customer Service. She also worked for Elex group, where she had many different functions such as purchasing officer.

Ms Chombar is also an active member on the advisory board of the STEM Platform, aiming to encourage young people to follow a Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics education. Next to that, she has been a mentor for the SOFIA Women’s Network for 17 years, a mentoring, networking and educational programme for women working in management in the profit sector. During the past 5 years she’s been committed to promoting female access to directorship roles within Belgian enterprises (public and private) through her membership of the Woman on Board organisation.

Ms Chombar has a Master’s Degree in interpreting (Dutch, English and Spanish) from University Ghent. She has been an Honorary Ambassador for Applied Language Studies for the university since January 2012.

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Ann & Bart Claes

Ann & Bart ClaesAnn (°1965) and Bart (°1963) Claes, daughter and son of JBC founder Jean Baptiste Claes, have joined the company in 1985 and have led the company as a solid duo for almost 20 years now.

JBC was founded in 1975 by former cyclist Jean Baptiste Claes, who opened his first “American Stock” store one year later near Hasselt, Belgium. The concept was a real success and many new stores quickly opened. In 1985, his children Ann and Bart Claes joined the team and in the same year, the company started focussing on fashion (clothes and shoes).
In the meantime, the company has turned into the biggest Belgian clothing retailer. JBC has already received several nominations and awards over the years. Only last year, the company won the “Best retail Chain” award (Retail Detail) and Regional Award of work atmosphere (Randstad).

Ann and Bart Claes have been involved in the family business since childhood. Ann has been a member of the Board of Directors as of 1997, became CEO in 2010 and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Hasselt Fashion Museum.
Bart graduated as a business engineer at the KU Leuven and has been CEO and member of JBC’s Board of Directors since 1997. He is also the co-founder of Zembro, the first intelligent bracelet specially designed for the elderly. In addition, Bart supports the education project ‘Ondernemers voor de Klas’ (Entrepreneurs in front of the Class) between schools and companies in Flanders. Both siblings are also part of the Vlerick Impulse Centre “Growth Management for Medium sized Enterprises” (iGMO).

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Eric Domb


Eric DombEric Domb (°1960) is the founder and CEO of Pairi Daiza since 1994.

Pairi Daiza is a 68-hectare zoological botanical and architectural garden located in Brugelette in the province of Hainaut in Belgium. This animal theme park is located on the site of the former Cistercian Cambron Abbey, and is home to over 5,000 animals.

Mr Domb’s dream to create Pairi Daiza as we now know it, started over 20 years ago. The biggest hurdle was finding investors to create the animal park on the former Cistercian Cambron Abbey. Enchanted by the beautiful surroundings of the site, he was able to convince some family members and close friends to invest so he could buy the property. In 1994, he opened this garden as a bird park which was called Parc Paradisio at the time.

In 2010, the park changed its name to Pairi Daiza (Old-Persian for “enclosed garden” and oldest name given to the notion of paradise); another step closer to Mr. Domb’s dream of creating a park in which the public could enjoy its beauty and tranquillity. The number of visitors only confirm the success of his venture: from 150,000 visitors initially nearly 1.8 million visitors in 2015. In 2013, the park was elected as most beautiful animal park in the Benelux and also won the “Enterprise of the Year” award in Wallonia last year.

Previous to founding Pairi Daiza, Mr Domb worked as a lawyer and a finance consultant.

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Rudi Pauwels

Rudi PauwelsDr. Rudi Pauwels (°1960) is a pharmaceutical scientist, Founder and CEO of the innovative molecular diagnostics company Biocartis. He also (co)founded several other biotech companies, including Tibotec, Virco and Galapagos Genomics.

Mr Pauwels belonged to the first group of HIV/AIDS researchers who, shortly after the discovery of HIV in 1983/84, started the efforts to find solutions to counteract HIV. For more than two decades he mainly focused on the search and development of anti-HIV drugs. With the launch of Tibotec-Virco, Rudi Pauwels was at the foundation of a few of the world’s most used and most successful anti-HIV drugs. He also developed a number of diagnostic tools that allow personalized HIV treatment.

Realizing that high precision medicine would require high precision diagnostics solutions, he founded Biocartis S.A. in 2007. Biocartis has its main offices, R&D and manufacturing facilities in Mechelen, Belgium. The company raised thus far close to quarter of a billion euro in equity financing. In 2012, Dr Rudi Pauwels and his company received the Global Technology Pioneer Award from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Both his research and entrepreneurial career are driven by the needs of patients and a passion for advancing and medicine and leaving his mark. During his career, he sat on a number of boards and is currently member of the IMEC Scientific Advisory Board in Leuven, Belgium.

Dr. Pauwels is a graduate of KU Leuven where he also obtained his Doctorate degree (PhD) in Pharmaceutical Sciences. Last year, he received the prestigious First Alumnus of the Year 2015 Award by FarmaLeuven, KU Leuven.

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Nominees of the Vlerick Award 2016

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