Denis Fompeyrine: creating a start-up to help prevent depression
Dr Denis Fompeyrine is a PhD in clinical psychologist and a former high-tech entrepreneur and a healthcare consultant before founding Myndblue.io to develop remote technology that supports mental health diagnosis. He discusses how getting his Executive MBA at HEC Paris Executive Education has affected his career, and what future business leaders should keep in mind.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU WERE YOUNG?
Denis Fompeyrine (DF): A researcher and an entrepreneur. Science and astrophysics fascinated me, I wanted to understand the physical theory behind the universe.
WHAT EXCITES YOU ABOUT YOUR CURRENT CAREER?
DF: My start-up Myndblue aims to enable doctors to diagnose mental health remotely. We are working to provide a system of alerts for hospitals that can flag up signs of depression. I love the field of psychology because it’s so challenging – we don’t understand everything that’s happening in human beings’ psyche yet! I like things that are complicated, where I’m not in my comfort zone and I love working with new people and discovering new ways of understanding. I’m lucky to have many scientists and high-level strategy consultants who are exploring these new questions with me. If you listen to people’s proposals when managing a start-up, it’s a much richer experience. Myndblue is also exciting because I think we can make a huge social impact. I’d like people to be able to use our product to help prevent depression as soon as possible and before the consequences get too severe.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO DO AN EXECUTIVE MBA?
DF: I decided to get an EMBA to increase my knowledge of general management and I chose HEC Paris Executive Education because it’s well known for excellence. I met exceptional professors in the Entrepreneurship track and my current project draws on their teaching.
WHAT CHALLENGES HAS THE EMBA HELPED YOU OVERCOME?
DF: I became more confident in management at HEC Paris Executive Education. Entrepreneurship is more like a science, you need training, while management is an art that takes some time to learn. The EMBA was crucial. I learned that as a leader, you’re not the engine, you’re not the wheel, you’re the pilot.
WHAT’S THE BEST CAREER ADVICE SOMEONE EVER GAVE YOU?
DF: Jean-Christophe Barland, Senior Vice President Europe and General Manager France at Bristol-Myers Squibb, told me this, and I’ve found that advice very helpful :
Go where your patients are fighting something they can't overcome. You'll be the most relevant and useful there. "
WHAT CAREER TIPS DO YOU HAVE?
DF: To succeed on any project you need to absorb new information, go back to school, reorganize your thoughts, meet new people. Keep reading, keep questioning. A revolution is impossible with just one idea. You can’t say you know something because you read about it 20 years ago. Staying up-to-date is a matter of survival.