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).
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:
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.
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!
After a very busy period in January and February came the month of March which, luckily for us, was less packed. We still had some courses such as CSR which took us on a company visit to Miko, a coffee company that makes sustainable coffee and reinvests part of their profits into growing and preserving the Rain Forest. And let’s face it, we looked handsome wearing the white blouses:
Due to the free-time factored into the March schedule, we had a bit of time for some extra-curricular activities such as travelling, taking part in organized company visits such as to GSK or enjoying some food and drinks with fellow classmates:
In addition to that, our Indian classmates took the opportunity during the visit of their Prime Minister Modi to emphasize the strong links of the school with India. Indeed, as from next year, Vlerick Business School will launch three scholarships to help bright Indian students develop their skills. Congratulations Vivek Dhawan and Arshvir Singh on their work with this project:
Finally at the end of March and early April, we all left for the international study trip to either China, Brazil or South Africa but these stories will be shared in the next blog post
February can be summarised in one word: busy! We started the month with the exam on Operations Management, generally considered to be the hardest of the entire year. After that, the rest of the month was extremely packed, with lots of classes during the week, and even some electives during the weekend. Various deadlines were littered throughout the month as well – even though there is no actual course on it, you definitely learn about time management during the MBA program at Vlerick.
Luckily, there was some lighter stuff as well. For example, for our HR course, we were challenged to present, during a 3-minute creative explosion, something we considered ourselves to be the ‘best-in-class’ in. The secret magician in the picture below can confirm that everything went smoothly during this interesting exercise:
On top of the academic program, there were also some activities related to the corporate world and our careers after the MBA. We heard a very interesting speech by the CFO of Brussels Airlines on their strategic positioning within the airline industry, and had the opportunity to meet McKinsey & Company during a networking event.
And because even after all of the above, we still could not get enough of each other, we organized some stuff on our own as well. Most notably, our Colombian friends organized a great Colombian night, with food, drinks, and music!
So even though 2016 is a leap year with an extra day in February, time really flew by this month. It’s crazy to think that we’re already halfway through the program; it’s been very busy and intense, but very rewarding as well!
Following a well-deserved two weeks break during which the MBA cohort enjoyed some family time or travelled across Europe, we were back at Vlerick Business School on the Brussels campus. Nevertheless, during this two-week holiday period, we had to finalise the valuation assignments for the corporate finance course and the following companies were reviewed by the various groups: Netflix, Nike, Michael Kors, GoPro and UPS.
Coming back to school, the traditional New Year Reception was organised on the Brussels campus. This reception was an opportunity for some of the classmates to link with potential future employers such as McKinsey or Johnson & Johnson. But also we had a lot of fun as you can see in the picture below:
Part of the class even wanted to prolong the evening and discovered some of Brussels night clubs:
In addition, during this month we welcomed the MBA candidates from BiMBA (Beijing, China). They came for four weeks to follow the Operations and HR courses with us as well as for visiting some of the most successful Belgian companies (Katoen Natie, AB Inbev…). Furthermore, during the HR course, we had the opportunity to play a union, middle management and board role-play in which cultural differences unravelled and that allowed everybody to learn from each other.
Lastly, at the end of January, there was the first elective week-end. I personally opted for the Leadership in Action elective which consisted of a role play about a company in need of a strategic change where MBA and Executive MBA candidates were split between different business units and the executive committee. This was an intense and fruitful experience after which we needed to relax and enjoy some Belgian treats. See you February for more news!
After a pretty intense month of November, with deadlines and exams pretty much every week, December looked like it might be a bit calmer. We only had 1 exam scheduled (corporate finance), and some smaller assignments on top of that.
Aside from that, I also signed up for the Hult Prize, together with some classmates. This is a global business school competition, organized by Hult Business School and supported by Bill Clinton, around social enterprises and social entrepreneurship. This year the challenge is focused on ‘crowded urban spaces’, and the ultimate goal of your proposed business plan should be to double the income for 10 million people in urban environments. Quite the challenge, right?!
For this, Vlerick had organized an on-campus competition for internal Vlerick teams. This pitch competition was organized on the same day as the corporate finance exam, so our participation definitely required some planning and last-minute efforts. However, the winner of this internal competition would be awarded a spot in the Regional Finals in London, so it was definitely worth going for it. So that’s what we did, and in the end our business idea, around better ways to deal with (and generate income from) organic waste in slums, actually won the competition! So in March my team (pictured below) will go to London to defend the honors of Vlerick – an exciting prospect for sure!
The last week before the Christmas Holidays (yes, we do get at least some holidays ) we left campus to take part in a leadership seminar in Kerkrade in the Netherlands. This was a great opportunity to get to know each other and ourselves even better, and to learn a lot about ourselves and how we interact with others and in teams. We learned concrete ways of living and leading in a highly volatile and uncertain (VUCA) world through fun team challenges. We also worked on our presentation skills, gave each other very honest and useful feedback on our interaction styles, did a lot of improvisation exercises, and even learned how to survive in the desert! So we did a lot during these 4 days, but there still was time for a lot of fun and drinks too, as is evident from the pictures below:
So this was a very rewarding but also fun way to end our first 4 months at Vlerick – time really flew by! Now it’s time for some relaxing family or traveling time, because January and February look to be very intense months again.
My name is Thomas Collin, it has now been about 3 months that the MBA program has started and I wanted to update you on the amazing events that happened in the month of November.
During this month, there have been some great opportunities given to our class to broaden our network and meet exceptional people. Among others, we could attend a presentation from Dr. Jacques Rogge (former IOC president), take part into the RSM Private Equity Competition and meet our mentor from the Vlerick Business School Alumni network.
In the beginning of November, Dr. Jacques Rogge came to the campus to give a speech on leadership in sports with Rutger Beke a former Ironman runner. As former head of IOC coming from a medical background, Dr. Jacques Rogge could share inspiring thoughts on what are the key drivers of a good leader.
Taking the leap and doing an MBA at Vlerick Business School is a big commitment from which you get plenty of opportunities, one of which being Business School Competitions. Mid-November, Vlerick Business School sent a team of 4 students (Nicolas Bégault, Chirstian Lesmes, Vivek Dhawan and myself) to the RSM Private Equity Competition. This was an occasion for us to meet industry leaders and present them our analysis of a real investment case. In addition, we met other MBA students from Schools around the world such as IMD, CUHK, LBS…
In addition to these events, in November we got the opportunity to meet our mentor who will help us to define which kind of job we want and get us in contact with the Vlerick Business School alumni network. It was a great informal evening which gave everybody energy and motivation to land the job we want after the program.
Unfortunately November is also the month with most first term exams. The good news is now December is less packed and we will go to the Netherlands for what looks like a nice team building seminar (Bart will probably talk about it in the December post .
My name is Bart Moens, and in September I started a new adventure in my professional and personal life, together with 24 other young, smart, and ambitious people: on September 1st, 2015 it was time for ‘back to school’, as I have enrolled in a Full-Time MBA program at Vlerick Business School in Brussels.
The first week was mostly focused on getting to know each other and the program. The slightly awkward ‘back to school’ feeling quickly disappeared as we interacted with each other, the Vlerick staff and our professors.
The background of the participants proved to be as diverse I had hoped, in terms of age (25-35), nationality (pretty much all continents are represented), and professional background: where else would you find a criminologist with a background in both fashion and SAP implementation, and a marketing specialist in online gaming, in one single classroom?
One of the activities during the first week was an exploration of Brussels by means of a GPS game, during which we had to do various assignments throughout the city. The picture below shows our attempt at mimicking a theater play:
I guess it’s a good thing it’s a management program and not an acting class…
From week 2 onwards, classes started, as did the cases, group works and projects. The picture below was taken on September 5th (a Saturday, BEFORE the first actual class session), which might illustrate how serious we are about the program.
However, the busy schedule did not stop us from continuing to bond and socialize:
Apart from regular after-class drinks (to analyze and discuss our projects in detail, obviously!), we had dinners together, did some sightseeing in Brussels and Antwerp, and generally had a lot of fun.
We quickly found out that in our group there are some people that don’t drink alcohol, people that can drink a bit, and obviously a few people that can drink, like, a lot… And even after that, there’s the Colombians:
They clearly have their hands full doing a FTMBA at Vlerick
Apart from all this fun stuff, the academic program also intensified quickly. We’ve had very diverse courses, from cultural awaress to business modelling and statistics, and it turns out there’s no such thing as a Vlerick course without at least a project, group work, or business case.
This means our free time appears to decline rapidly, and next to all the course work we have to think about our in-company project, our professional future, how to impress potential employers during networking events, and when there’s still some time left, maybe try to write a business plan so we can found the next Facebook or Google?
Finally, graduation time has come, and I can only say to all the people involved in this unique and incredible experience: Dank je!!
The Crazy Bunch: The day of Zibin’s departure! this time with Chung-Yun, Natalia, Ximena, Ehsan, Marc, Abhishek, Sam, Valerie (Vlerick’s Senior Programme Manager), Elke (Vlerick’s Programme Assistant), Christine, Laura, Erick, Kris, Zibin, Montse, Manu, Ghassan, Nicolas, Hope, Janeth, Xavier, Dimitris, Maggie, Esteban and Fabio.
Thanks to our professors that provided and (at the same time) enjoyed this learning process with us.
Enjoying the Music: Akinbiyi and Koen Dewettinck (Vlerick Professor).
Thanks to the Vlerick staff that always took care of us.
Vlerick Power: Eva (FTMBA Career Officer), Valerie (FTMBA Senior Programme Manager).
Thanks to Belgium, for trusting us and giving us a temporary residence here to reach our dreams.
The Perfect Greek BBQ: Enjoying the food, the friends and an amazing weather in Leuven! This time with Marc, Natalia, Hope, Janeth, Abhishek, Chung-Yun, Ghassan, Sam, Laura, dimitris, Zibin, Ehsan, Ximena, Maggie, Fabio, Kris and Montse.
ICP’s Extra Power: Gael joins his father’s ICP Team as a key player! Abhishek, Marc, Gael and Ehsan.
Thanks to Leuven, this amazing city that gave us one year of adventures and discoveries in unknown places.
Thanks to the Blog that was a channel for sharing our MBA experiences and improving my writing skills.
Thanks to Dimitris, for being the Chief Editor and invest a little bit of time in advising me and correcting my mistakes.
Thanks to Manu, Montse, Hope, Akin and Dimitris, for providing a little bit of their time to contribute to some articles of this blog with their thoughts, experiences and takeaways .
Intercultural Dimitris: Dimitris with his name in Chinesse (thanks Chung-Yun), and with a little support by Erick (me).
All Giving love to Hope: Ximena, Manu, Hope and Kris.
Thanks to those special projects that sent us to far, very faraway places.
Loving Philippines: Janeth and Hope.
Discovering Thailand: Natalia, Ehsan, Esteban, Montse and Ximena.
Enjoying Hong Kong: Kris, Laura and Erick (me).
Awesome Belgium: Nicolas and Manu.
Thanks to this unique program that brought us new skills and improved the existing ones, which will be decisive in the next phase of our professional careers.
Woman Power: The Best ICP. Ximena, Laura and Janeth.
And finally, a big thanks to my classmates for those crazy experiences and moments we will always remember and which made us: The Crazy Bunch.
Dangerous Women: Our women in training mode. Hope and Janeth.
A Thriller NiCht: A Jazz night in Leuven with Kris and Montse.
A Normal Crazy Night: Manu, Kris, Montse and Chung-Yun in Beijing.
The Crazy Bunch: Graduation day with Valerie Verlinden (Left: FTMBA Senior Programme Manager), Elke Truyens (Left: FTMBA Programme Assistant), Robert Boute (Right: FTMBA Programme Director and Associate Profesor) and Marion Debruyne (Left-Center: Vlerick’s Dean, Partner and Professor).
It is summer and the time for our final project (NGO & Social Enterprise Project), before graduation, has arrived. Our third and final split gave us the opportunity to travel to several locations around the World: Belgium (Kauri + Business & Society), Haiti (Ayitika), Hong Kong (Soap Cycling), Philippines (Good Food Community Inc.), Sri Lanka (CEFE NET) and Thailand (My Social Motion/Social Giver).
Good Food Community Team: Janeth, Hope and Abhishek.
Soap Cycling Team: Erick, Laura, Kris and Akin.
Social Motion / Social Giver Team: Ximena, Ehsan, Esteban, Montse and Natalia.
CEFE NET Team: Ghassan, Fabio, Dimitris, Maggie with CEFE NET Staff.
Supporting the Future Leaders: Ghassan, Dimitris, Fabio and Maggie with the entrepreneurs.
How was this experience? Well, I don’t think there is a better way than a fellow classmate talking about his experience. This time, it is Dimitris’ time:
Sri Lanka was chosen as the location for our group to have the final part of our MBA journey. The scope of our NGO, or “Giving Something Back” project, was supporting female entrepreneurship in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka, and was about helping two small companies, runned by local women, to improve their business and in the long term achieve sustainable growth. After spending one month on the island, and with the support of CEFE (the local NGO that we worked for) we had the chance to understand and analyse how these two companies operate and identify the key points that improvement was needed.
Time to Relax: Dimitris’ Birthday
During our stay in Sri Lanka, we gave two presentations to CEFE and UNDP in which we came up with several recommendations that the two companies should follow and also suggested some social metrics that the NGOs could use in order to measure the social impact of their projects.
The key takeaway from this unique and ”once-in-a-lifetime” experience was that there might be huge differences between small social enterprises and big western type companies that we were used to work for, but still there are so many things in common that -based on our previous experience and the theoretical knowledge that we received during the last year of our MBA life- we were able to transmit to these companies and help them improve their everyday business.
Fabio is working very hard: Fabio is carrying Maggie, Dimitris and Ghassan to the other side of the shore.
See you the next time with the final article about this amazing MBA trip: The Crazy Bunch: It is Graduation Time!
Last Meeting Before ICP: Ehsan, Marc, Dimitris, Chun Yung, Montse, Kalu (Marc’s Girlfriend), Esteban, Ximena, Abhishek, Natalia, Erick, Manu, Akinbiyi, Nicolas, Sam, Janeth, Xavier, Kris and Laura
After 7 months of studies, an IMEX challenge and a China Trip, it was about time to put all the knowledge acquired in practice!!
It was the end of April and with the final arriving of Spring our Vlerick class had to split for a second time (The first time was in December for the Christmas holidays).
First Day of Work: Esteban was waiting at the Bus Stop.
A group of my classmates went to Indonesia, some others stayed in Belgium but went abroad for a short time. For Esteban and me, we had to travel to Nyon in Switzerland to work in a consultancy project.
Customer Education: Our In-Company Project in La Mobilière.
ICP Defence Celebration: Smaranda Boros (Vlerick Professor and ICP Promoter), Esteban and Erick (Me).
For our project we had to work on building a structure for an ambiguous project, something that we were not use to do at all. We also had to do a lot of research, put in practice everything we learned, took advantage of Vlerick resources and understood new topics in two month time.
Founex: This is Founex Church and the place where this town was founded. Founex was the town where I was living during the ICP.
Parc du Bourg-de-Rive: Amazing, you can find ducks in the small river.
Château de Nyon: Improving my skills on taking selfies.
Apart from that, we also had to discover a lot about the Swiss Culture, not only in the corporate environment, but also in the personal one. This opened up our minds, especially mine towards a more open but still always on time Swiss culture that loves wine. They have the best conditions to live in Europe. As my colleague Esteban says “The only issue in Switzerland is to have a job, once you have it you don’t need to worry about anything else”.
In my free time, I explored the Leman Lake region of Switzerland. I discover that one Tin Tin comic book story was based in Nyon city, that the Leman Museum also has innovation and technology aspects (You should go there to discover it yourself), the part of the Leman lake in Geneve is as beautiful at day as at night, Lausanne is a city between mountains where you can have a new adventure in each corner, and you can easily visit the border countries, specially France in less than one hour.
Nyon: Leman Lake View
Geneva: Leman Lake View
Laussane: A multiple floor city, where Esteban was living during the ICP.
All my classmates asked me what I liked about Switzerland, well the people! In the city, at least in Nyon, everyone said ‘hello’ on the street, the food is amazing! You can find a lot of dishes thanks to the influence of the French, German and Italian cuisine: From the traditional Cheese Fondue, til the unique Malakoff, adding the Raclette and the Rösti.
Farewell Dinner: Enjoying Malakoff with our colleagues of La Mobilière.
I also liked all the activities that you can do every week, from festivals, to concerts or national ceremonies, there is always a lot to do. And finally, the amazing landscapes and views, everywhere I came I wanted to take a picture, it is really amazing how nature is well preserved.
La Mobilière Sailing Classe: This is an example of one of the several things that you can do in Switzertland, and also an example of the gentleness of La Mobilière and its people.
My advice is to visit the south part of Switzerland, but be careful in Spring! There is a lot to do, but keep in mind not to work under 34 Celsius degrees outside. But what I learned in Switzerland, an external neutrality versus an internal strategic mind is unique.
The Actuarial Department (And Esteban): I only can say that if the statistics is your passion, this is your dreamed job with amazing people.
See you next time with another article: An NGO Adventure.
Bonus: Some extra videos from Caribana Festival presenting Carrousel, Selah Sue (Yes, I had to go to Switzerland to hear this amazing Belgian singer), and The Cardigans (AWESOME!!)
This blog is meant as a platform for the current MBA students of Vlerick Business School, who will spend 1 year (FT MBA) or 1,5 year (EMBA) studying at our campuses in Belgium.
On this blog you will be able to read all about their experiences, activities and more. The Executive & Full-time MBA are very varied groups with up to 26 nationalities, different professional background from engineers to architects, men and women, all sharing the same goal: completing their MBA successfully to be able to make a career change, to do better in their current career or to start their own business.