Ismaël JCI Award
CEO iLumen on the corona outbreak: “At the end of the ride, you must have tried everything”

Ismaël Ben-Al-Lal is the founder and CEO of iLumen, a Belgian engineering company that develops and commercializes product innovations that increase yield and extend lifetime of PV plants. How do Ismaël and iLumen cope with the challenges they face due to the corona COVID-19 outbreak? 

1. How do you stay motivated as an entrepreneur in these difficult times?

It are precisely these circumstances that make me extra motivated. You will be obliged in a short time to reinvent yourself and adapt quickly to the new situation. Suddenly you have to completely change the business model you were so familiar with. As an entrepreneur you are therefore obliged to look for creative solutions if you want to remain operational. These kind of decisions give me a lot of energy.

I am also positively surprised by the short term in which we were able to retrain all colleagues and familiarize them with digital tools. But at iLumen not everyone can work from home, so for the others we had to discover a new way of working. And we have also succeeded in this.

2. What actions do you take to bridge this period?

When measures against corona came into effect in Belgium, we checked individually – literally, person by person – whether remote working was possible or not. If this was not the case, we looked for the measures that were necessary to enable them to work under safe conditions.

Together with our IT Department, we also organized training courses to get everyone involved with the technical adjustments and to remove any barriers. Those who got away with it quickly helped to inspire and further educate the others.

3. Who are you going to ask for advice if you really don’t know what to do?

We operate in a rather atypical market, so we cannot compare with other sectors. That is why we mainly monitor the situation and decisions in other countries and then enter into internal dialogues, for example with the Management Team and our HR workgroup.

And because our creativity and flexibility have allowed us to remain 100% operational so far, not much changes for us on the operational side except for the methods.

4. How do you keep your employees motivated?

Especially by entering into a dialogue: at the beginning of this situation we discussed the options together. We were able to choose the easy way and stop, so we couldn’t do anything wrong. Or just continue, but in a 100% safe way. The idea is that your job gives you energy and satisfaction, if you stop that will disappear. And on top of that you also suffer a substantial loss of capital, both the company and the employees, and in the long term also society.

At the end of the ride, you must have tried everything.

Together we chose to stay active and get the most out of it. So the motivation of my employees already started intrinsically. We saw this crisis as a challenge and we all want to be able to look back proudly on how we have contributed to each other and to society in a safe manner.

5. What will you do once this crisis is over?

We now see that we can easily keep certain movements to a minimum. Since the climate is one of our main spearheads, we want to continue that line even after the measures are lifted. That is more ecological, and more efficient. What we learn during this period, we will certainly take with us in the future.

6. What message do you want to share with other entrepreneurs?

Do you know the Why worry flowchart from Gaur Gopal Das? Because it summarizes my advice: there is no point in worrying. Do you own it? Then get started with it. If you cannot change it, you must undergo it. But you have to try to make a difference and do everything you can.

Ismaël Ben-Al-Lal, CEO of iLumen



  • The better your adaptability, the stronger your position.
  • In open dialogue with your employees, you will find a solution that everyone supports.
  • The easiest way is not satisfying. You should at least try.

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