Passing the torch to the next generation of societal leaders

The Impact

Belgium’s 40 under 40 strives to encourage leadership growth, create a positive societal impact, and connect emerging and accomplished leaders together to shape the future of society. With four years and four Cohorts behind us, the impact of 40u40 amplifies, be it the personal and professional growth of the participants, the connections created that lead to new ideas, collaborations, and initiatives, as well as the projects and realizations emerging from the Community.

Discover some of the initiatives and projects carried out in the Community over the past years, during the Field Work part of the program or through the growing mobilisation of our Alumni & Supporters.

Beyond the one-year program, we mobilise the 40u40 Community, across Cohorts and generations, around societal topics, and team up with other organisations. 

The diversity of profiles and experiences offers a thriving environment to reflect and create long-term impact on key societal topics, contributing to a better Belgium in 2030 and beyond.

Community Engagement

Read the outcome of the BE.Entrepreneur study:

BE.Entrepreneur: Boost, Enable & Educate for a more entrepreneurial Belgium

“How can we truly unlock the potential of entrepreneurship in Belgium?” This question was raised by Emmanuelle Ghislain, CEO of Pulse Foundation and Alumna of Cohort 2021 Spring, when she contacted 40u40 to join forces on this topic.

Over the course of a year, we gathered 60 actors of the entrepreneurial ecosystem to reflect on this question, identify actionable solutions, and formulate tangible proposals and recommendations to the political world.

The objective of this exercise was to bring together these voices and to lay on the table concrete, documented, and quantified solutions inspired from cases from Belgium and from abroad, that can make a difference by addressing the concrete pain points that entrepreneurs face in their journey.

Our work indicates three main complementary axes to focus on:

      • Boost: changing the paradigm of the public sector’s role in supporting entrepreneurship and ensure the efficiency of the means provided;
      • Enable: improving the return on investment of our R&D capabilities, the primary raw material of our country;
      • Educate: stimulating the entrepreneurial spirit and equipping individuals (before companies) with the skills necessary to carry out their projects.

As one of the four pillars of the 40u40 program, the Field Work provides a platform for increasing the Fellows’ societal impact and leadership through collective intelligence and co-creation. The experience can be challenging, but also rewarding, leaving the Fellows strengthened to lead in the world.

Field Work projects

Field Work is a collective learning experience that teaches the Fellows how to work with other leaders, how to imagine new ways to address societal issues, and how to confront the difficulties of changing a complex environment. Some projects started during the program have led to inspiring initiatives, continuing beyond the one-year program. 

Cohesion Belgium: An Index for DEI in companies

The initiative Cohesion Belgium is the outcome of a Cohort 2021 Spring Field Work project by Steve Ahouanmenou, Magali Bodeux, Danaé Coquelet, Mouna Dourasse, Jean-Marc Duyckaerts, Emmanuelle Ghislain, Nadine Khouzam, Céline Naveau and Fatima Zibouh. They founded Cohesion Belgium: an index to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in companies. 

The initiative supports building an inclusive workplace where each employee feels valued and given equal opportunities, helping not only the employee, but also the company. 

1000 First Days: Rebalancing parenthood & work

Cohort 2021 Autumn Fellows Ayoub Assabban, Bastien Van Wylick, Caroline Guyot, Mikael Wornoo, Sebastien Morvan and Silvia Steisel worked together on a Field Work project called “The 1000 First Days”, a reference to the 1000 first days after the birth of a child and the importance of supporting new parents in balancing parenthood and employment. 

After exploring this topic for one year during the 40u40 program, Silvia Steisel began an executive program at Harvard Kennedy School on Implementing Public Policy, with a focus on Family Policy. While taking part in the cursus, she concentrated on the subject of rethinking public policies to allow parents to better combine parenthood and employment, in Belgium.

The project is continuing and will gather the voice of Belgian citizens concerned about the reconciliation between parenthood and work, collect proposals and ideas, and identify consensus and proposals for progress in Belgium on this issue.

BeClimate Hub: Gathering sustainability change-makers

The BeClimate Hub is an innovation born from a Field Work project of the Cohort 2022. Five Fellows Colja van Haaren, Grégoire de Hemptinne, Gaëtan Seny, Rob Opsomer and Sandro Iacovella formed a Field Work group with the goal to create a catalyst for a greener Belgium. 

Together with 40u40 Mentor Stanislas Van Wassenhove, they created the BeClimate Hub: a meeting point uniting diverse industries to connect and thus accelerate the transition of Belgium towards climate neutrality. During the 40u40 program, the group worked on this project, setting their intentions and goals, and joining forces with other climate actors across Belgium. 

They created a mapping of all climate innovators active in Belgium and the project kicked off with a successful first event in October 2023. Since then, the BeClimate Hub community is growing, beyond the initial group of 40u40 Fellows.

ESG Training: Towards sustainable value creation

Cohort 2021 Autumn Fellows Mathieu de Lophem, Pierre-Henri D’haene, Amélie Matton, Maxime Peeters and Julie Scherpenseel developed a two-day program on sustainable value creation to help board members operationalise Environmental, Social, and Governance principles. The idea of this training originated during the 40u40 program, the Fellows wanted to answer the question “How can we make the trade-off between green transition and economic welfare?” ESG has a material impact on enterprise value, and even though the principles of sustainable value creation are perhaps clear, how to pragmatically implement them in a monthly board meeting is much less clear. 

The group created a program to equip directors and professionals with the tools and knowledge needed to transition from traditional value creation to sustainable value creation. The training was fully integrated in the GUBERNA catalogue in 2021 and they have organized four editions so far, with more following along the road. The ESG training focuses on the practical implications of EU ESG regulations, sustainable finance policies and governance frameworks.


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