To make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from. – TS Eliot

And just like that, a year has gone by! It’s unbelievable that our MBA journey has come to an end this week on Tuesday, August 29, 2017.

We started the year in September 2016 as strangers and over the course of twelve months we’ve shared some unbelievable moments, leading to lifelong friendships and a new-found family weaved and strengthened by all we experienced together.

The last month of the program was a fitting ending to an enriching program, with a course in Corporate Strategy along with the Business IMEX Game taking up a full week – full of intense competition where we were able to apply everything we’ve learned in the last year.

   

And now, at the end of this experience we are left with a new beginning: the next chapter. In the words of T.S. Eliot: To make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.

Congratulations Full Time MBA Class of 2017! I can’t wait to see what the future holds for all of us!

 

   

 

To next years class, we wish you the best of luck and much success on your journey! We look forward to connecting again in the future as Vlerick Alumni! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

MBA Rollercoaster

Hello again! Settle in with a cup of coffee, as this will be our longest entry yet!

We’ve taken an (unintentional) absence from this blog because time has been moving at warp speed the last few months! So let’s jump in right away, take it back to March, and catch you up with our journey since.

March Madness is an accurate description of our month. Our class was split up into different Strategic Innovation Bootcamps based on our interests and preferences. With three weeks of advanced cases and lectures, each group was able to deep dive into sectors that are changing rapidly – Fintech, HealthTech, Strategy Consulting, (Renewable) Energy, and FMCG. An international study trip to London (for FinTech) and to Lisbon (for renewable energy) was also part of the experience.  Our classmate, Hartmut Leidreiter shared his lessons learnt from the renewable energy boot camp, that got highlighted on The Economist website. Link can be found here.

Healthcare Bootcamp

Visit at Philips with the FMCG Bootcamp

Lisbon trip with the Energy Bootcamp

April brought us all together again for a mix of courses: Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Negotiation to Create Value, Change Management and CSR. These were the courses many of us were excited about to dive into, as part of our MBA education.

    

Some fun shots from Change Management!

In-between all the courses and deadlines, we also had the chance to hang out and have a bit of fun…

We also had 2 few company visits during this time to the Google Brussels campus in Brussels and AbInbev in Leuven.

Our Vlerick Masters cohorts also put together a TedX Vlerick event with 5 inspiring and insightful speeches.

    

May and June had our group split in different directions again, as it was time for us to embark on our ICP (In-Company Project). This was a key element of our MBA program that gave us the opportunity to do a two-month internship in a company either in Belgium and abroad.  Our group had a great mix of projects in strategy, finance, operations, supply chain, IT and marketing at some great companies such as McKinsey, Mastercard, AbInbev, UCB and Ergo.

Our class travelled on and off the European continent for the projects – as far as South Africa, Mexico and Colombia, with some sticking closer to home in the EU – Belgium, Italy, UK and Germany. Overall, this was perhaps the favorite component for many of us, as it gave us the chance to try a new industry or new business role that we were interested in.

BPM Risk project at Mastercard

Visiting a rooftop solar installation with NSE (New Southern Energy)  in South Africa

Glass factory tour in Mexico with AbInbev

 

Seeing the sights in Milano while on project with Christeyns

ICP in Colombia with Fundacion de la Mujer ~ view of Bogota

Once the ICPs were over, we had a week-long break before heading to the US for a 3 week trip to Boston and San Francisco. The trip to Boston was for a one-week program in Entrepreneurship at Babson College, which has the distinction of being #1 College for Entrepreneurship in the world.

 

After an intensive week of lectures and group work, we had the weekend to explore Boston before heading out to San Francisco.

San Francisco was a mix of lectures and company visits, to some of the most exciting companies in the Bay Area – Google, HP, Johnson & Johnson JLABS, Adobe and NASAAmes Research Center but also some startup unicorns such as DocuSign, Splunk and Atlassian.

 

 

Of course…we also found some time for fun with a weekend in the city and a class trip to Napa!


 

After an exhilarating 3 week trip, we are now back in Brussels with 2 courses left for the rest of the academic year: Corporate Strategy & the IMEX Game. We are all coming to terms with the reality that this program is almost over and we will all go our separate ways very soon!

It’s now the beginning of the end  – 2.5 weeks left of this incredible journey together!  Til next time..

2017 Life during MBA – Updates so far

How is it already March??  We started 2017 fresh and revived after a 3 week break over the Christmas holiday. Next thing you know, it’s March and we are all split up into different Boot camps (based on the specialty we want to follow) and the number of classes we have left is getting into the single digits! But before we go further down that road….let’s take it back to January and February and revisiting all the fun  we’ve had so far!

January started with a big party – the Vlerick New Year Reception that is!

January also started with a big visit: Vlerick hosted a group of students from a partner Chinese MBA program – a group of 25 students on a visiting trip from China’s top ranking program – the Beijing International MBA program at Peking University.  The group spent 2 weeks on our campus during which we were fully integrated in all courses and worked on different case studies together. We all benefited from the different points of views and the enriching experience. For sure some friendship will last beyond the school year.ta

One of the more memorable moments of their visit was the opportunity to visit KatoenNatie together and learn about their operations and their warehouse facilities in Antwerp harbor.


Another great experience was having Bart Cauberghe, a managing partner from GIMV, give a presentation on campus about Punch Powertrain – a project they were able to turn from a low-performer to a highly attractive company worth 1 billion euros in 7 years –  “Not by financial ‘tricks’, but by operational improvements.”

It was a very inspiring look into an industry not familiar to many of us, but one that proved very intriguing.

Once the BIMBA program students left back to China, a fun weekend trip was planned in Lisbon, Portugal where most of our classmates headed off for a long weekend of sightseeing and having some fun away from campus and classwork, lead by our very own Portuguese tour guide and classmate, Ines!

February proved to be an even bigger whirlwind that January, with weekend electives starting as well as multiple company visits on and off campus. That, along with a full course load and many assignments due made the 28 days feel even shorter!

Of course, we made time for a little fun by getting a group of soccer enthusiasts together to watch Anderlecht beat Zenith 2-0.  Go Belgium!

One fun elective this year was the opportunity to travel to Dublin, Ireland and take a 4-day elective course on Big Data & Digital Strategy at Trinity College.  Like all other electives, this one was a mix of our cohorts and of our colleagues from the Executive MBAs (Belgium and St. Petersburg included). We had some interactive visits at IBM getting an overview of their Watson software, as well as visiting the new campus at Oracle, which specializes in big data solutions and analytics.

Mandatory stop at Guinness Storehouse

Oracle Company Visit

We also had coursework – I promise!

Finally, we are now halfway through Bootcamps in March and all busy working on our Business Plans for Entrepreneurship, which will be due at the end of the program. Some of us have very innovative and clever ideas and are waiting to get them challenged during out trip to Silicon Valley. Stay tuned for the next blog, which will highlight the different Bootcamps Vlerick offers and our learning journeys throughout.

Til next time!

Happy Holidays and See You in 2017

We all blinked and before we knew it, it is now December and the first semester of our MBA is over!

The last couple months have been a whirlwind of classes, exams, group projects and many career events! We’ve had presentations as part of the Distinguished Speakers event, where the former CEO of Rexel, Philips Lighting and Consumer Electronics gave a talk on his perspective on Leadership. We’ve had 2 Career Fairs and multiple company presentations on campus from some great companies.

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The mood after one of the harder finals of the semester.

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Celebrating the end of the semester!

One of the most rewarding activities so far has been getting matched and networking with our Vlerick Alumni Mentors that are there to help guide us in our journey and provide guidance as we discover the opportunities ahead.

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Additionally, two of our classmates participated in a company challenge from AB-InBev where they were asked to pitch about the integration of Craft Brewers in the US and solving a specifi business case on packaging. They made it to the final round, and even though the were not the winners, we are all very proud of them and are all finding their newly acquired knowledge on craft beer very enjoyable.

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The last week of the semester was spent in the Netherlands at the beautiful Abdij Rolduc, where we spent four days in a Professional Skills & Leadership Seminar. We had great team building events, improv skits, lots of feedback and leadership training as well as some fun challenges outdoors!

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As one of our more eloquent classmates said at the end of the program “We came as a classroom but this week facilitated an environment where we all were able to learn even more about each other, build trust, and as a result we are leaving as a big family.”

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We’ll be back next semester and will be jumping back into classes, electives, and figuring out the next challenge – In-Company Projects! We’d like to thank our readers who have joined us so far on this journey and wish you all HAPPY HOLIDAYS & A HAPPY NEW YEAR 2017!

Blog written by Adina Avram & Jean-Baptiste Thybaut

A big hello from the Vlerick Full Time MBA Class of 2017!

Monday, 14 November 2016, 13:36 | Category : Blog, Full-time MBA
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We’ll be sharing our journey of the Full MBA Program at Vlerick Business School throughout this year, and the various experiences we go through as we tackle classes, networking events, and pursue career opportunities ahead.  We hope you follow along in our journey this year and join us in celebrating the big and small accomplishments to come ahead; and also inspire you to consider Vlerick for your MBA!

Our class this year proves to be one of the most diverse thus far – an equal ratio of men & women, and 22 different countries represented from 5 continents. It’s been an incredible experience already meeting and getting to know each other, when we are all so varied in our backgrounds and experiences.  Our experiences range from Artificial Intelligence to Digital Marketing to Nuclear Energy Engineering; we’ve studied at universities all over the world – from Taiwan to Egypt to Russia and Peru; we have 3 Ph D’s (Chemistry, Live Sciences and Biomedical Sciences).  Our group members have founded businesses in Latin America and we have future entrepreneurs hoping to establish businesses in Africa.

The first two months of the program have already flown by and we’ve been captivated in all the courses and numerous group assignments and business cases. We’ve practiced cultural awareness in International Business, learned all the intricacies of financial statements in Accounting and Corporate Finance, tried our hand at assessing competitive advantage in Business Strategy and evaluated Brexit and its effects in our Economics course.

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The Career Services Team at Vlerick has done a great job organizing numerous career events: from meeting several top companies here in Belgium (GSK, Bain, AbInbev, AGEAS, Big 4 Firms), to executives from Coca Cola and Phillips joining us on campus and sharing their knowledge, as well as the opportunity to connect and network with the broader Vlerick community.

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On-Site Visit to GSK, we toured the campus of a pharmaceutical company, complete with chocolate at the end!

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Along the way, we’ve also had the chance to have some fun outside of school – get-togethers hosted by classmates, countless beers (we are in Belgium after all) and even salsa dancing, complete with lessons from our Latin America classmates!

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We have much to share ahead, and this is only the beginning. Hope you all stay along for the ride … the sky is the limit for us this year – and we are shooting for the stars!

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Graduation time and Welcome to class of 2017!

After what will remain in our hearts as a memorable year filled with new friendships, learning, networking and quite a lot of fun, graduation arrived! Everybody felt relieved, grateful yet sad as this incredible journey was coming to an end, or was it? It is now up to us to maintain the bonding that happened throughout the MBA in this Class of 2016.

After a year of hard work, we get to wear these funny outfits Thomas showing his classmates how to wear the gownWe've made it!

The graduation ceremony took place at the Plaza Hotel not far from the Brussels campus. And after an introductory speech from Dean Marion Debruyne and a reflection about key success factors in a career from Dr. Ajit Shetty, Chairman Emeritus of Janssen Pharmaceutica, each graduate was called on stage by our dear and beloved FT MBA director Robert Boute.

Robert Boute - Director of the Full-time MBA programme Marion Debruyne - Dean of Vlerick Business School Dr. Ajit Shetty - Chairman Emeritus of Janssen Pharmaceutica

Afterwards, prizes were given for the best In-Company Project to Alexandra and Stefan – congrats to them! The award was presented by Huawei and both received a phone.

Alexandra and Stefan receiving their Best Project award!

And Bart, my blog buddy was awarded best student of the year!

Bart collecting his Best Student Award - Congrats!

Graduation ceremony ended with speeches from the student representatives of each Executive MBA programme as well as the Full-Time MBA. Maria Alejandra gave the speech for our class speaking from her heart. It was the most beautiful moment of this ceremony.

Maria Alejandra giving her inspiring speech

Following this wonderful ceremony, a reception was organised at the Vlerick Brussels campus. This reception was the opportunity for all of us, now officially MBA graduates, to share some time on campus with our families and some quality time together.

We're Alumni now!

September is on its way and a new batch of students will embark on the Vlerick Business School MBA journey. On behalf of the class of 2016, we wish you a wonderful year. It is now up to you to make it as amazing as ours (better will be tough ;)).

As for Bart and I, we want to thank you for reading this blog and hope it helped you decide that Vlerick Business School is the best place to do your MBA. Let’s meet on campus for some Alumni events.

Lastly, we want to thank Joanna Wilkinson for posting all the blogs and being so kind with us whenever we were late on our delivery of posts.

Best regards,

Thomas Collin and Bart Moens for the Class of 2016.

 

Here Comes the Sun … Summertime!

Wednesday, 24 August 2016, 12:32 | Category : Blog, Business Game - IMEx, Full-time MBA, MBA
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After the intense period of the ICPs, the summer months of July and August looked to be a bit calmer, with only 3 courses scheduled (Innovation, Corporate Strategy, and Strategic Alliances). On top of that, there was time for a company visit to the Audi plant here in Brussels. It was interesting to see and experience such a highly efficient manufacturing plant in real life.

For most of us, this calmer period was very much welcome, because it gave us some additional time to think about our future and to look for jobs to kick start our career after the MBA. Also, it was great to have the opportunity to drink our regular beers outside in the sun:

Beer! More beer And more beer!

And of course, we used the spare time to travel a bit and enjoy some valuable time with family and friends, towards the end of an extremely interesting yet busy year.

Victor and friends discovering Austria Enjoying a well-deserved drink Quality father-son time Huyen enjoying some travelling

And then, finally, at the end of the program, there was the (in)famous iMEX-game (Integrated Management Experience). In this game, our class was divided in 5 teams, who each were managing their own toy company, competing against each other. It was an excellent opportunity to apply a lot of the concepts we learned throughout the year, in a realistic business environment. And of course the competitive aspect made it even more exciting – you can tell from the marketing videos how serious we took the game for the Zalsa and ToY projects

The iMEX days were very intense and stressful, and unfortunately my team didn’t win the game. ToY Inc did the best in terms of the ‘triple bottom line’ (Profit, People, Planet) and were the deserved winners of the game.

Congrats to the winning iMEX team!

As the iMEX game officially wraps up the Full-time MBA program, all that was left for us was to enjoy the final weeks of the Belgian summer and to party and relax a lot. We just had to make sure to be (more or less) sober for the graduation ceremony, the final highlight of this amazing year!

 

Back to Business with the In-Company Projects

Friday, 1 July 2016, 14:17 | Category : Blog, In-Company Project, MBA, MBA Experience
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Following the amazing BICS trips, and a well-deserved break, it was time for us to put our knowledge into action and embark on the In-Company Project (ICP). The ICP consists of an 8-week project during which 2 or 3 students will look at a topic for a company (Market entry, Product development, Value-based pricing…). A group of 3 folks even had the chance to travel to India advising on investments in emerging markets.

Christian acting as tour guide/rickshaw driver Not a bad location for an ICP!

As you can see they had fun, but they also worked hard during the 6 weeks spent abroad. The ICP ends with a defense of your project in front of the sponsor company and your promoter. Sometimes even more people:

Quite an audience!

And after 8 weeks of work and an intense defense, it feels good to be done and be ready for the last two months of the programme.

ICP defence done - time for some champagne! ICP done and dusted - time to celebrate! Getting ready to defend the project! Thumbs up for the Project Defence!

And as you know us by now, there is no milestone achievement without celebration:

Compulsory end-of-ICP celebrations Drinks are on Alexandra!

 

BRICS Trip to Cape Town in South Africa

Friday, 6 May 2016, 13:59 | Category : Blog, International Study Trip, MBA, MBA Experience
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Breathtaking views

After a very intense 3 months, filled with classes, assignments, and deadlines, it was time to pack our bags: the moment of the BRICS trip was finally arrived! We could choose any of the 5 BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) for a trip full of classes, company visits, tourist activities, etc – definitely one of the highlights of the year.

Together with 6 classmates, I chose to go to Cape Town, South Africa. We could stay on the campus of the University of Stellenbosch, but Pierre, Benjamin, Thomas, and myself decided to rent an apartment together, so that we could stay a bit closer to the city center. We arrived a day before the official program, and used that day to explore Cape Town a bit. We started with lunch at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, one of the most touristy and posh areas of the Mother City, as the locals like to call Cape Town.

Cape Town

We explored the area a bit and, thanks to the advantageous exchange rate, were able to start our trip with great sushi and excellent wine, at bargain prices.

Enjoying some well-earned food

We were a bit less pleased when we saw a couple of rats coming out of the kitchen after finishing our sushi, but that’s life, I guess.

We had rented a car because it’s the easiest way to explore Cape Town and the surrounding areas, and driving on the left side of the road wouldn’t be a problem anyway – or at least we thought so 😉 After lunch, we drove around the Cape Peninsula to explore the gorgeous sights and to say ‘hi’ to the penguins on Boulders Beach.

More breathtaking views of the Cape Peninsula Getting to know the locals!

The next day, the official program started, with classes on South African politics, economy, entrepreneurship, etc. All classes were extremely interesting, and the professors were great! On top of that, we got the chance to visit the Khayelitsha township, an eye-opening experience during which we met some great local entrepreneurs. In the afternoon, we played a game of football against some young kids from the Try Again Football Club. It was great fun, and they were excited about the new kits we had brought for them.

Team photo with the Try Again Football Club

During the trip, we also visited a vineyard, took the boat to Robben Island – where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years, and explored the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve.

Vineyard visit Ferry trip to Robben Island Visiting Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned Cape of Good Hope nature reserve

All-in all, it was a fascinating and highly memorable trip to one of the most complex, interesting, yet absolutely gorgeous countries in the world.

 

Hult Prize Regional Finals, March 11 – 12, 2016 (London)

Monday, 25 April 2016, 8:22 | Category : Blog, Entrepreneurial Spirit, Full-time MBA, Hult Prize
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After we were fortunate enough to win the on-campus competition for the Hult Prize (see the December blog post), my team ‘Samadhaan’ (Benjamin Corvilain, Caroline Baeten, Vivek Dhawan, and myself) got to participate in the regional finals in London (March 11 and 12).

The Vlerick team at the Hult Prize Regional Finals

On Friday we were welcomed with some inspiring speeches about existing social enterprises, and we got some last-minute pitch training as well. This got us energized and even motivated us do some last-minute changes to the pitch we had prepared. As the maximum length of a pitch was 6 minutes, it was really crucial to get your message across in the most effective way.

On Saturday morning, we were one of the last teams to present. Here you can see us get all nervous and excited before starting our pitch:

Getting ready to present

Our pitch went really well, and we could see that the jury and the other teams bought into our idea of using shipping containers to install small-scale biogas plants in slums.

The competition was organized in 6 heats, and the winners of each heat would get to pitch again, in front of everyone, during the evening session in the Museum of London.

First though, we received some inspiring words through a video message from Bill Clinton, and got to listen to a touching yet energizing testimonial about arranged marriages in Turkey.

Hult Prize Regional FinalsHult Prize Regional Finals Hult Prize Regional Finals Hult Prize Regional Finals

Unfortunately we didn’t win our heat, because ‘Kazi Connect’, a team from Stockholm School of Economics, had a really impressive, solid, and well-prepared business plan and pitch.

In the end though, the overall winner was a team from University of Cambridge, Simprints, proposing an affordable fingerprint scanner that would allow poor urban people to get better and cheaper access to microfinancing.

After a memorable after party at Dirty Martini, together with all other Hult Prize participants, it was time to head home, after a valuable, interesting, and inspiring experience!