He is a son of Charles-Emmanuel Janssen, liberal deputy of Walloon Brabant, and Maya Boël, daughter of the Vice-president of the Senate Pol Boël. He married Thérèse Bracht, and together they have three children, Charles-Antoine Janssen (b. 1971), Nicolas Janssen (b. 1974), and Edouard Janssen (b. 1978).
He started school at the Hamaïde School of Brussels (1940–1945), continued at the Athenaeum Robert Catteau of Brussels (1945 to 1953). From 1953 until 1958, he then studied at the polytechnic faculty of the Universite Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) where he graduates as civil engineer in nuclear physics. From 1959 until 1960, he worked at the Cabinet of Commissioner De Groote at Euratom, after which he studied at Harvard Business School in the United States from 1960 to 1962, where he obtains an MBA.
From 1962 to 1984 he worked at the Union Chimique Belge as an engineer, then Director of R&D, and then President of the Executive Committee from 1975 to 1984. He was Vice-President of the Board of Directors. From 1986 onwards, he was successively CEO and Chairman of Solvay.
During his career, he was Chairman of the Federation des Entreprises de Belgique and of CEFIC. He served on various Advisory Boards (including Fortis). He offered a Chair for Corporate Social Responsibility to the Solvay Business School. In May 2006 he retired. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Trilateral Commission and a member of the European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT). He is a former member of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Group.
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