Vlerick masters 2017-2018 kicked-off!

Wednesday, 20 September 2017, 12:57 | Category : Masters
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September is fully back, and for Vlerick Business School, September means the beginning of a new Academic Year.

The 2017-2018 academic year has kicked off with students coming from 34  different countries from all around the globe. They are already immersed in the programmes and attended the first events, including Meet the Corporates and the Opening of the Academic Year with the inspiring keynote speech of Showpad’s CEO ( Louis Jonckheere, Alumni of the School).

In the coming months, readers will be able to enjoy first-hand experiences from our students by reading this blog so, stay tuned!

Looking forward to a promising year!

Vlerick Masters

JUGGLING ACADEMICS & BUSINESS (2/2)

Wednesday, 24 May 2017, 8:12 | Category : Masters
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Growth hacking is a hot and trendy topic, but we have noticed that not a lot of people are familiar with it – including us. Which is why we created vlogs explaining what growth hacking is, how we are implementing some of its tactics on our consultancy project and how to balance this new phenomenon with traditional academic concepts and methods.

Be aware that this is a series of vlogs. In order to get the whole overview we strongly recommend you to subscribe on our channel (Duval Union Consulting) to stay up-to-date. Enjoy!

Vlog 1: Intro to our Growth Hacking Journey

Now that you’re introduced to growth hacking we’re able to take it a step further. The following vlog will teach you how to come up with the best unique value proposition (UVP) and unique selling proposition (USP) and how to digitally pitch your UVP.

During the upcoming vlogs we will show you how to split test and we’ll take you through the different steps of setting up a go-to-market strategy. Enjoy!

Vlog 2: Growth Hacking, How To Get Started!

Last weeks was all about setting you op to start your growth hacking efforts. However, now we will deep-dive in one particular growth hack called ‘A/B-testing’, or as some like to call it ‘SPLIT-TESTING’. This is mainly done with one goal in mind – improving landing page conversion. In this vlog we’ll take you through our process, how we applied split testing and what the results were. We also discuss a variety of tools to do it yourself and show you how to set up your own A/B test via one of these online tools!

Vlog 3: A/B Split Testing for Improving Landing Page Conversion

Nicolas, Britt and Eline

JUGGLING ACADEMICS & BUSINESS (1/2)

Monday, 22 May 2017, 7:15 | Category : Masters
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Going on an In-Company Project is always an adventure. For us it was no different. I, Nicolas Willemyns (in the middle), together with my teammates Britt Reniers (on the left) and Eline De Meyer (on the right) didn’t take this learning opportunity for granted. Since it’s the cherry on your Vlerick year (or pie if you wish) it is of utmost importance to choose wisely. With this super team consisting of a variety of different backgrounds, ranging from bio-engineering to applied economics, we were fully equipped to take on this specific challenge.

LAST DECEMBER

During your Vlerick year you become extremely skilled in networking. A skill that we used extensively throughout the year and which has definitely paid of during one particular event… the Vlerick Winter Reunion. Last December Minister Alexander De Croo, Prof. Stijn Viane, Mr. Frederik Delaplace and Mr. Jo Caudron discussed subjects such as the digital economy during this reunion.

We got immediately inspired by the vision of Jo Caudron (CEO of Duval Union Consulting). After his keynote and debate, the reception started. Our time to shine we – thought! Between some glasses of champagne we approached Mr. Caudron and after 10 minutes discussing anything related to digital we asked him the inevitable question: ‘do you currently have any project that we could tackle during our consultancy project?’ There we went, hanging between an awkward ‘NO’ and a redeeming ‘YES’. Luckily for us the answer was yes!

TODAY

What we are working on today at Duval Union Consulting is really exciting for us as marketers. We are developing a go-to-market plan in order to successfully launch a SaaS platform. This platform should allow companies to make smarter business decisions. Of course a lot about our project is still confidential, but for what I can say now is, please visit the website we made for our project via the following link: www.trendbase.io.

Furthermore, in order to come up with the most effective launching strategy we’ve been given the assignment to find the right balance between new marketing trends, such as growth hacking, and traditional academic methods. This is not an evident thing to do. It requires constant reflection on our daily activities, intermediate presentations and continuous learning. The latter brings us to another adventure. Duval Union Consulting bought us tickets to participate in a renowned event called Hack Belgium.

This event allowed us to immerse ourselves into extremely educative concepts and methods. We followed workshops on lean digital product development, business canvas modelling and learned how to draw like an artist. The fun didn’t stop there. We also raced with drones and fought side by side during VR games. In short, a head start for our consultancy project.

What should you take away from this post?

  1. Be bold enough to take the lead
  2. Be open and try to see opportunities in everything
  3. Be aware, success between academics & business lies in the middle

Interested in getting to know even more about growth hacking, our in-company project, launching a SaaS platform or simply wanting to more about us? Then we suggest you to subscribe to our vlogs!

Nicolas, Britt and Eline

From Bali to Belize, from Santiago de Chile to Shanghai

It’s the beginning of May, and in Vlerick terms that means just one thing: the start of our ICP projects. In case you never heard of this monster, it’s Vlerick slang for our “In-Company Consultancy Project” and is really just a fancy word for a two-month intensive internship. You might wonder, though, what exactly are we master students asked to do during these two full months?

Work hard, or travel hard?

Content-wise it all depends on your own topic and the business you end up in, but for everyone the overall lay-out is the same: in two months you gain more insight in the company you work for and the problem or project you are assigned to, so as to provide innovative insights about potential solutions to a current opportunity. The great thing about an ICP is that you can work in really interesting and even off-the-beaten-track locations, networks, and fields of industry.

As a MIMS student, I am just one of the students who has been sent across the globe. My fellow colleagues can momentarily be found in the city of Brooklynn, the jungle of Belize or Lima, the hotpot of Santiago de Chile, the megacity of Shanghai (24 million inhabitants!), the relaxing mountains of Switzerland, Bangkok, Vietnam, Swaziland, Tanzania, Budapest, Bali and more. It is a life-changing experience, especially if you’re able to spend the two full months at your dream destination.

I myself can only speak of my own experience, which is as diverse as the night sky of Shanghai (which ranges from yellowish, to purple, to orange, back to smog, and some hints of lilac; yet everything but black). It’s a city that must grow on you, or rather: the Chinese have to grow on you. However, after a week of deep culture shock, I really start to enjoy the rapid changes and heated lifestyle of this Chinese megacity.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor shanghai china

Administration can be a burden, and getting a visa is just a straight PITA, yet it’s nonetheless fascinating to see how fast new ideas can set off or how crazy a city can grow just because millions of millions of people set the radars going every day again. It’s buzzing, it’s never asleep, and once you realize the only way to go about is to let go with the flow. And, you know, it’s a motivating business stream to swim into.

What adds to this exciting experience is, of course, our project we’re working on. As a start-up, Createc Digital Ltd., is at the digital heart of Chinese online marketing and business development. Our project called Shake To Win is about a bright new platform on WeChat (which is the Facebook + Instagram + Twitter + PayPal + WhatsApp of China = it’s everything!) for Chinese tourists who wish to discover “secret spots” – be that local bars, experiences, fashion and design fairs, food halls, … — in Europe while traveling there. Could I ever have imagined working in Shanghai while connecting with Paris, London, and Rome? No. Do I like it? Hell yes!

Above all, it’s fun to realize that you can actually really start exploiting all the knowledge you learned in the past year. The theoretical frameworks we saw, we now apply; and the insights we attained, we can now induce. Working together with friends, above all, is the greatest fun. And why not in a city that goes beyond any imagination, and that pulls you abruptly out of your comfort zone?

 

Cheers,

Elien

IMEx experience

Monday, the 10th of April. After a week in Berlin, visiting start-ups and enjoying each other’s company, it was time for a little competition. This competition, otherwise known as IMEx (short for Integrated Management Exercise) makes you turn around a toy manufacturer that was recently hit by a fire. It brings together everything you’ve learned in the past year ranging from Operations to HR to Financial management. It consists of 12 rounds spread over one week, each representing a quarter, where you have to score as high as possible on three different metrics: Profit, People and Planet. The team who scores the highest on all of them, goes home with the prize and gains infinite Vlerick glory. Interesting detail though is that each team was joined by a financial wizard from the Masters in Financial Management.

Quarter 1, and the first thing you have to do is incredibly important… Choosing what we would call our company. After an intense brainstorm session, we came to a name for our company: Bert Smit. (no you did not read that wrong).

Now, in all seriousness, our company was making a loss and burning cash so something needed to be done and fast. A timer was ticking away valuable seconds while you were trying to estimate the market demand, the production capacity and employees needed while not forgetting marketing and R&D. It was only after the 3rd quarter everybody (including us) was finally break-even.

4th quarter, and it was time for supplier negotiations. Do you go for the very cheap yet unsustainable and less qualitative supplier? Or for the more expensive yet high-quality and sustainable award-winning one? How much price reduction can you negotiate? You have to do this while still making the same decisions as in the previous round, with the addition that you now also have access to the US market. Everything was time-intensive but Bert Smit was finally turning a nice profit.

7th quarter, the one everybody dreaded: labour union negotiations. In this quarter, a person from another team comes to you and plays the role of labour union. You get 3 rounds to come to an agreement with every round meaning one month that production is halted because of a strike. Your company is making a profit, but is still feeble so you want to get this over with as soon as possible.

The last quarters, competition between Bert Smit, Skynet, Styx and the other companies was getting ever fierce. With the finish in sight everybody was investing, spending money on training and turning out dividends to score as high as possible on Profit, People and Planet. Not only that, marketing efforts were increased to gain the attention of the Board of Directors (aka the professors and their assistants).

After the final quarter everybody was eagerly awaiting the results. Bert Smit scored highest on Profit but lagged somewhat behind in the People and Planet department. No time to lose, because now you had to prepare a presentation for the Board of Directors, explaining them how you managed to turn around the company and what the plans were for the future. This presentation, together with your score on the 3 P’s would decide whether you were the winner of IMEx.

Drumrolls please… And the winner is… Styx! with Bert Smit unfortunately coming in close second. Congratulations to the winning team and Vlerick glory will be forever theirs.

IMEx was an amazingly interesting experience. It brought together everything you had seen so far and even though it was just “a game”, it really felt like you’re trying to run a company. Great thanks to the professors and their assistants for making this possible and highly recommend doing it again next year.

Thanks for reading!

Thomas

MGM 2017

M3 2017 Trip To Dublin

On Valentine’s Day M3 left on their long awaited study trip to Dublin. Up first was a visit to the Digital Department of Oracle. Here, we were inspired by Alan Lawless. He welcomed the group and passionately explained Oracle’s value proposition. Up next we had a networking session, a session about data-driven marketing and a session about the new landscape of selling. This first day was finished off with a tour of the Oracle office. In the evening, we had dinner with the entire group at The Market Bar, which was a great treat.

On Wednesday, bright and early, a visit to Microsoft was scheduled. We were welcomed and briefly presented ourselves in 1 minute with 1 object. Subsequently we got an interesting introduction into Microsoft. After this, we participated in an interactive quiz and got a Microsoft Device Demo. After a short break, Vlerick alumni and MACH candidates (Microsoft Academy of College Hires) shared their experience with us. It was really nice to see their enthusiasm for the company!

In the afternoon we moved on to Enterprise Ireland. After a short introduction about who EI is and what they do, we received some coaching on the case we prepared for the agency Rothco. Some fine-tuning was necessary but then it was time to pitch our idea. It was the first time we presented our ideas to an agency, which made it a very valuable experience. Wednesday evening was then time for a party as our class motto is #workhardplayhard.

On Thursday, we walked to the Google offices. We got a guided tour, followed by a session on the different Google tools. We also got to talk to young employees and their recruitment experience. After the obligatory group picture, we walked back to the B&B. In the evening, we went to a bar where we were introduced to the marketing management students of Trinity College.

The official program was finished on Friday. However, Vlerick gave us the option to fly back on Sunday. As such, we used this opportunity to go hiking in Howth, go sightseeing in Dublin and, of course, party more ;-).

Thanks for watching and reading!

Gabrielle
M3 2017

MFM 2017 trip to London

Tuesday, 21 February 2017, 23:10 | Category : Masters
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Greetings my fellow Vlerick compatriots!

I´d say hope you all started the year well and refreshed but let´s be serious.., with just two weeks of Christmas and a big welcome from a couple of exams the first week back, we hit the ground running this year. That was quickly over and then came the following week, the reason I am writing this article: the MFM trip to London exactly a month ago.

Some guys took advantage of the free weekend (a rare occurrence in MFM) and left earlier than the rest of us to enjoy London in its entirety. For most of us, it all started early Monday morning at Gare du Midi, with everyone in their best crisp suit, a mean pea coat and myself in my jeans because apparently I´m the only one who decided it was a good idea to change later in the day before our first visit. Finally, a couple hours later, there we were in London! To our delight, we had to walk from the station to the hostels in the cold rain (see how I used the Belgian sarcasm there?). We checked in, stored our bags and scattered around in groups to explore London for a bit before our first visit.

Day 1 (JP Morgan and Third Bridge)

The first visit was JP Morgan Asset Management. From the second we walked through those revolving doors, we knew we were due for an impressive visit. The tone was set immediately from the second we entered the daunting revolving doors. Everybody was properly dressed, looked sharp and wanted to make a good impression on the prestigious firm. We made our way up and were offered a variety of drinks and snacks in the conference room where the presentation would take place. Mr. Vermeulen, a Belgian working for the company for a long time now, started the presentation with an overview of JP Morgan Asset Management’s history and business.

Afterwards, a younger British asset manager took over and with his energetic and enthusiastic way of presenting, he immediately had the attention of the audience. He mainly talked about the Brexit. It was a word that he did not like very much, both for its meaning and the fact that the word had led to a series of words like Nexit or Deportugal. Since the British people had voted to leave the European Union, he had spent a lot of time analysing the consequences and impact of the Brexit on UK businesses. He also made some bald statements such as ‘Populism will never be elected again in the UK’ and gave us some tips on how to get an internship or a job at the company. Regarding career opportunities at JPM, they hire mostly from the top UK business schools. It also helps if you know someone from within the firm who can help you get an interview, but even then it is not easy. Afterwards in the Q&A, our questions ranged from the trump effect on bond noted to `the Queen and the empire´. Interesting isn´t the word.

The end of the first day at London brought us to Third Bridge. This company, which is co-founded by Rodolphe de Hemptinne (Belgium, Ghent), focusses on delivering information and research to private equity firms, hedge funds and strategy consultants. Third Bridge is named after a secluded area in Botswana next to the Moanachira River, the only river in the world that does not discharge in an ocean or sea. With a car, this is the furthest place that can be reached alongside the river, and hence reflects the company’s vision to offer information to their clients which is often difficult to get access to.

During the company presentation, given by Rodolphe, we got an impression of a relatively young (10 years old) and exponentially growing business in the heart of London. Because of this rapid growth, they have an active hiring policy towards young graduates such as… Vlerick students! Rodolphe gave a very enthusiastic and interesting presentation about the job opportunities Third Bridge could offer us and where he thinks we fit in this picture.

Third Bridge was probably the only company in which we did not feel like wearing a suit was compulsory. This feeling was strengthened even more by the casual network event after the presentation where the employees of Third Bridge, surprisingly, offered us some Belgian Leffes in a (successful) attempt to win our hearts.

All in all, Third Bridge and Rodolphe made a very good impression and it set the tone for a great evening and week in London.

 

Day 2 (S&P and BLCC networking event)

The next day started early as we had to get to the offices of Standard & Poor’s in the heart of Canary Wharf for the presentations scheduled for 9. The first rush hour jam of the week was quite the experience being a group 46 people. Luckily they had breakfast treats waiting for us as some of us hadn´t had breakfast yet. Some employees presented the company and told us about the work done in the different line of business under S&P Global.

Many topics were discussed during the S&P Session, but a major time slot was given to the evaluation of the rating agencies involvement in the financial crisis, 9 years ago. As a result, rating agencies in general became subdue to tougher rules, and a more formal control system. These adjustments guarantee the future independency of the rating companies. Some time was also spent on the pro-cyclicality of ratings, similar to companies, although in general these ratings are considered more stable.

An interesting point was mentioned during the presentation; unlike competitors’ rating scales, S&P uses a (+) or (-) indication to display the relative standing within the major rating categories. Competitor’s such a Moody’s use more absolute rating scales and do also not provide a rating relative against the default rates on average.

As a final remark, we were introduced to the Bloomberg of sorts used by S&P: Capital IQ is S&P’s financial information service provider, also serving over 4000 clients worldwide. During the very brief overview of the service, it was noticeable how powerful such application can be when used for financial modelling, research, assessing company fundamentals etc. Very interesting indeed and so were the graduate programs presented to us but unfortunately open positions were only available for 2018. A short Q&A concluded the session, and the group took the tube back to Central London after a much appreciated coffee break.

We had a free afternoon so again we scattered in different groups to explore London, do some shopping, visit museums, etc. We regrouped later in the evening for the next event. It was a good evening with great food and interesting people (Vlerick alumni), who shared their London experiences with us. The event was different from the other events and company visits we did in many ways. It was a relaxed atmosphere, we had the opportunity to talk with people about their respective career paths in the intimidating financial centre of the world. Unlike in other events, we got know the alumni more personally. After many conversations later, we had a better picture of the life in London, positive and negative. They told us about the struggle to manage their personal and professional lives due to the long working hours, about the search for an apartment, but also about the excitement of living in such a vibrant city.

Some students had the pleasure of talking to Andrew Swan, the Assistant Head at Chatham House. This is an independent policy institute based in London focusing on international affairs. Chatham House carries out independent analysis of critical global, regional and country-specific challenges and opportunities. In 2016, Chatham House was named Think Tank of the Year at Prospect magazine’s annual think-tank awards, where it also won in the UK categories for International Affairs and Energy and Environment. Andrew previously worked at the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization and at the Parliament of the Isle of Man. Born in South Africa, Andrew further increased his international experience by following Vlerick’s MBA Programme from 2012 to 2013.

We also had the chance to talk to Christy Oi Ling Chan, a former Vlerick student. She did the Masters in Financial Management last year and works at Bloomberg for the moment. As many students of our class dream about working in London next year, it was very interesting to speak with her. She could gave us tips about finding and getting the dream job we are all looking for.

 

Day 3 (ESCP trading session and Cardano)

The next morning, we went to visit the ESCP Business School, a top-ranked European Business School (just like Vlerick!). Here, we split into two groups. One group started out in ESCP´s trading room. We had a trading simulation session organized by professor Othman Cole. At first, a lot of losses were generated as nobody really knew what was going on. However, a few rounds later, we quickly picked it up and used more and more advanced techniques to beat the market. Overall, this experience really showed us how markets and traders work during the day.

After the trading session, we switched with the other group and we had a session on FinTech organized by an ESCP guest lecturer. Machine Learning, Neural Networks, Blockchain and emotional pattern recognition were all subjects that were touched upon. Useful insights and definitions into the growing world of FinTech were shared with the group as to make us ready for the rapidly changing financial industry. All-in all, this session was of great value to the London Study Trip programme. I really think everybody learned a lot. After a much needed lunch break, we made our way to the next company.

 

The next visit was at Cardano, a financial services company which specialises in Fiduciary management, Investment advisory and Risk management. Cardano helps clients become more resilient by helping them manage their pension/insurance portfolios. The CEO and staff of Cardano gave us a warm welcome and a great overview of how the financial market has moved over the past few years and how this move had an impact on corporations, especially their pension portfolios. The CEO stressed that the insurance and pension business are major players in financial market.

Cardano provided us a case study “Hostile takeover and the DB poison pill”, through which we had an insightful understanding of different types of pension schemes for example Defined Benefit (DB) and Defined Contribution (DC); and how these schemes affect the balance sheet of the company. The case was very challenging but also very interesting. Our Vlerick presenters, Balliauw Elise and Pieter Decavel, have done a fantastic job in tackling various difficult problems in the case and managing to provide Cardano valuable suggestions for the client. Cardano was impressed with the quality of the presentation. After the presentation, we had a chance to network with Cardano’s staffs, Miss Nicole Xu and Miss Sarah Louise Powell. They were very helpful in explaining the different business activities of Cardano and opportunities available for young graduates like us. They were also very open about their experience at Cardano as well as the life-style in London in general.

Overall, the visit to Cardano was a great experience for us. It enhanced our knowledge of the pension and insurance industry, the very important sectors in the financial market. We believe that the energy and enthusiasm of Vlerick students have also left a good first impression to Cardano.

 

Day 4 (Lloyds and Blackrock)

Thursday was split with one group visiting Lloyds in the morning and the other in the afternoon. This was an interesting visit as we, and I´m sure you as well, associate Lloyds as a bank but on our visit we discovered the immense and unique role that Lloyds has in the insurance sector. While Lloyds is not an insurer, it serves as a market for insurance companies and hosts a significant number of brokers that are responsible for insurance companies from all corners of the world. After the presentation we concluded the day with a tour of the building and heard many good stories of its´ history.

In the evening we visited one of the most distinguished companies in the financial sector with over USD $5 trillion under management, Blackrock. We felt privileged just waiting in the lobby before they were ready for us. Once in, we had a presentation on current events (Brexit, US elections, low interest rate environment) and how they affected the portfolios of the asset manager that was presenting. To be honest, his explanations of his investment techniques and the different terminologies used left most of us dazzled. Good thing we had the Investments course the following weekend to try to digest what he heard at Blackrock. After that a few students got to talk to the asset managers in person while the rest made their way back to the hostel for some rest.

 

Day 5 (Bloomberg and Moody´s)

The last day in London came quicker than expected but it was a good one. We visited Bloomberg in the morning and were led by an MFM alumni whom we got the chance to meet just a few days before at the BLCC networking event. From the outside, it looked plain but when we got in we couldn´t stop gazing at how amazing their offices were. Imagine, at the centre of the building, through all floors, they had an aquarium filled with all sort of fish, baby sharks and I even spotted an octopus. But that´s not why we were there. We were brought to one of their computer rooms where Christy Oi Ling Chan and two of her other colleagues gave us a presentation about the company and talk a bit about their journey to Bloomberg. Before we left, we made sure to take advantage the free food and snacks in their colourful cafeteria.

In the afternoon we had the chance to visit another prestigious credit rating agency, Moody´s. We were given an extensive presentation about the company, its´ different departments and opportunities they have for future graduates. After the presentation, it was time for some networking. Not too long after we got some coffee, and headed back to the hostel. We quickly got our luggage from the hostel and made our way to the train station as we were scheduled to leave soon. Although very thankful for the inspiring week we had, you could see it in everyone´s face they were exhausted.

We boarded the train and just when you thought everyone would immediately start napping, a few people decided to give the bar a visit for a drink. Guess some people didn´t want the bar to feel lonely.

All in all, we had a great week in London and were exceptionally pleased with the companies that were scheduled for the trip. Definitely one of the biggest highlights of studying MFM at Vlerick, an experience you couldn´t get elsewhere.

Till next time, cheers..

Shark Tank Challenge — Can you handle it?

Wednesday, 1 February 2017, 6:27 | Category : Masters
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January is over, exams are over! However, at Vlerick Business School, we as students are often assessed in other ways than just another standard, boring exam. Vlerick professors are quite often challenged to examinate their students in innovative, inspiring ways. One of the most inventive assessments we’ve had so far was the AB Inbev Shark Tank Challenge – which was as much a life-or-death competition as it sounds!

In a first stage, all MGM, MIMS and MIE students were informed on their particular challenge, which entailed one of the following: Connections for millennials – Insights – Nablab, or the No Alcoholic Beverages Lab. Having been assigned a team of 3 students in total, the challenge would entail 3 consecutive rounds. In the finals, there would be 3 winning teams per campus and per challenge, that would result in 3 final winners in the end. Coincidentally – or not 😉 – the winners of the three challenges were equally divided among the three campuses. So, Brussels, Ghent, as well as Leuven can proudly present a winner of the great 2017 ABI Shark Tank Challenge.

As a MIMS student in Brussels myself, I am here of course to boast about the performance and innovative thinking of my Brussels’ team. (Sorry, not sorry.) Dagmar, Delphine, and Cedric won with their challenging innovation called the Draughtmaster as part of the Insights challenge. They had to successfully come up with an innovation that would unlock consumer data in creative ways. The Draughtmaster, which is as much as your personal tap that – in line with the “internet of things” – is smartly updating you on how well you can tap a beer, whether it’s preserved at the right temperature and the right pressure. In the end, it can even promote you so much as to help you win the international ABI Draughtmaster cup!

Curious readers will clearly see that this idea aligns with the current market trends of home service, home delivery, home cinema watching, etc. But a home draughtmaster is still something many households are lacking today. One can always get a perfect beer in a bar, but what to do if you have some friends over and you want to serve them the perfect beer yourself? Well, a solution is perhaps finally coming your way. Cheers to that!

Goldstein Challenge and Winter Reunion

Thursday, 5 January 2017, 19:24 | Category : Business Game, Event, International Event, Masters, Masters in General Management, Vlerick Experience
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One of the great things about Vlerick is that you get to experience what a real life business case would look like. The Goldstein Challenge is where you get the first chance to really apply everything you learned until that moment. You are brought in as a consultant and together with your team you get to save the Goldstein Brewery from the brink of collapse in just four days’ time. Four whole days of ups and certainly a lot of downs, including a lot of frustrations and sleepless nights. However, in the end – when you finally get that awesome breakthrough that will crack the case – it was worth it.

The first day started off easy enough as the consultants from PWC explained the finer details of the case. The company’s Return on Capital Employed or ROCE had gone down from about 10% to 2,9%. As we found out over the duration of the challenge, there are many different pronunciations for ROCE (and not always very flattering ones). The next step was to figure out ourselves what (part of) the data was saying, to find the real issues and how we would solve these. Unfortunately, we would only get full access to the additional data and the data tool the next day.

The second day, things were getting spicier. We got a presentation on how to use the PWC data tool and some more information about the complete dataset. One catch though, the full data and its corresponding data tool would only be available from 9.30 till 23.45. While this might seem like plenty of time, believe me when I say there was a lot of data to go through and the pressure was on. Friendships and relationships were tested, but no blood was shed (only the occasional tear). Luckily, there were the Deliveroo guys who kept us going with some necessary Balls&Glory power food.

Over halfway, and the third day, everybody felt ready to take on the next part of the challenge: solving the problems that your team found the day before. In addition, you had to write out these solutions in a fully-fledged management report with your recommendations and make a presentation that would have to be presented before a panel of Vlerick professors and consultants of PWC. Not much sleep was gotten by anyone that night, but there was this glorious feeling when handing in that report you worked on so hard at 3.30 AM.

The next morning was filled with coffee and zombie-looking students. Nevertheless, we delivered a successful presentation in front of a jury, consisting of PWC representatives and Vlerick professors. A drink to celebrate the great survival of the Goldstein challenge was in order. And so we did.

goldstein

goldstein2

In the afternoon, no classes were scheduled and students were graving for some sleep to be representable for the annual Vlerick Winter Reunion later that night. Key-note speaker Alexander De Croo, Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium, delivered an attention-grabbing speech on Digital Economy and Connectivity. After the speech, we were invited to the reception to network with Vlerick alumni. The open bar allowed us to blow of some steam from the intense quest we had been through that week.

winterreunion

We were rewarded with a well-deserved Christmas break to reload our batteries. However, at Vlerick there is no such thing as a long vacation. Deadlines and exams are scheduled right after the break, probably to make sure we are able to keep on with the pace of our program. But I guess this is part of the wonderful MGM-journey filled with challenges, time-pressure but also friendship and memorable experiences.

xmasparty xmaspartymgmghent

Thomas Longeval & Lise Coenen
MGM Ghent

CSR visit at LIDL Belgium

Wednesday, 4 January 2017, 22:53 | Category : Masters
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Hi there,

My peers in the MGM/MIE Leuven group and I recently visited LIDL’s distribution centre in Sint-Niklaas. With this visit, we had the opportunity to discuss some corporate sustainability and responsibility (CSR) issues that LIDL Belgium faces. In our lectures, the charismatic Prof Xavier conveyed to us that CSR is not about philanthropy, but rather policies that are embedded in day-to-day decisions and operations of a business. As such, this company visit afforded us a chance to assess the real life implications of strategic corporate sustainability initiatives.

For the non-European readers, LIDL is a German discounter supermarket chain with over 10 000 stores in 28 countries. The company is the second biggest retailer in the world and has revenues over €64.4 bn. On the day of our visit, we had a presentation from the head of sustainability in Belgium and Luxembourg, Phillippe Weiler, who enthusiastically chatted to us about the benefits of good CSR consciousness in a big multi-national whilst we were nibbling on some tasty snacks. What I gathered from the presentation is that CSR initiatives result in cost reduction, brand enhancement, customer satisfaction and ultimately create value for shareholders. Philippe was also proud to point out that LIDL’s seafood offering is the most sustainable among the Belgian retailers, a fact that my fellow MIE blogger Cassandra did not believe. After some googling of her own, she is now convinced – I hope so at least.

At the end of the presentation, we were tasked to tackle two real life CSR challenges: 1) How can LIDL be a better neighbour to the community and 2) How can Lidl better integrate its sustainability actions at the store level.

We were divided in competing mini-groups of 6 to 8 students and, in true Vlerick fashion, were given only 30 lidl1minutes to present our out-of-the box ideas. The jury was composed of LIDL management panel and also some of the students – they were clearly happier as theirs was an easier job. The winning groups were elected based on the feasibility and presentation of the recommendations. A tough job for the jury as Philippe and the rest of LIDL management were really impressed and noted down most of our suggestions. Some of us are keen to see if any of the ideas are implemented.

With the case out of the way and some more snacking, we then had a 30-minute tour of the impressive distributionlidl2 centre and got to learn more about the intricate logistics involved in the distribution processes but also got to appreciate the level of responsibility that every employee at LIDL bears. This specific Sint-Niklaas centre serves to
over 80 retail stores in Flanders, recycles 93% of its waste and has a deep freezer which we strolled into and ran back out with chattering teeth – I kid you not, it was Antarctica in there.

The day was long, but at the end we left the site very satisfied. We had seen how a big corporation brings sustainability into practice and were grateful for the opportunity to have applied some of the theoretical concepts we had learnt back in class.

Until next time,

Jo