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!

March: full of opportunities

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:

Looking handsome Still looking handsome

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:

Company visit to GSK Sharing a few beers Visiting Poland

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:

Our Indian students ready to welcome Prime Minister Modi to Brussels The card presented to Prime Minister Modi signed by Vlerick students, staff and faculty

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: short, but very busy!

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:

The secret magician

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.

Distinguished Speaker Series talk by Jan De Raeymaeker, CFO of Brussels Airlines

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!

Colombian night

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!

January : Welcome to the BiMBA MBA candidates!

Wednesday, 3 February 2016, 10:19 | Category : Alumni Event, BiMBA, Blog, Company Visits, Full-time MBA, MBA Experience
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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:

Networking at the Alumni New Year Reception

Part of the class even wanted to prolong the evening and discovered some of Brussels night clubs:

Networking part 2In 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.

Union game Negotiating with the unions FT MBA 2016 and BiMBA students together

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!

Belgian treats!

December: social entrepreneurship & leadership skills!

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!

Go Team Vlerick!

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:

Group photo before the holidays

Thomas showing off his moves

Working on those improv skills

Enjoying some well-deserved drinks!

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.

See you soon!