ToiLetMeKnow, or how Hackathons can create opportunities

Tuesday, 29 November 2016, 11:55 | Category : Masters
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The great thing about Vlerick is that it encourages you to participate in business games, case studies, and hackathons. Hacka-what, I hear you saying? A hackathon, in the traditional sense, is a rat-race, sprint-like competition in which software developers along with subject-matter-experts work on a disruptive project during a limited amount of time ranging from a day to a week. The teams are challenged to design new software or web-applications that tackle topics relevant for society and that could be readily developed into a start-up idea. Amazone and CIBG (Centrum voor Informatica voor het Brussels Gewest) premiered with the first gender hackathon ever in Brussels, Belgium, and a small group of five Vlerick students participated in “veni, vidi, vici”-style.

Because that is another great thing about Vlerick: by challenging your co-students into participating in such intriguing business games, you get to know each other from an entirely new perspective. In fact, my team and I quite accidentally decided to participate. It began as all typical love stories do: one student in class asked her neighbor whether he would like to participate, who in his turn asked his neighbor etc. By the end of class, a small group of five students were subscribed for the first “Brussels Goes Gender Smart” Hackathon ever.

The Hackathon itself was in no way related to Vlerick, yet we immediately and almost unconsciously felt we could apply all the taught frameworks and business development methods from the past three months at Vlerick. Starting with a speedy and outside-of-the-box brainstorm session, followed up by research and more down-to-earth product development, we soon and very smoothly divided the tasks among the five of us. In no less than eight hours did we develop a start-up application that would solve the gender inequality problem of peeing in Brussels. We thought it unfair that Manneke Pis and his male equivalents can always, anywhere and at any time, pee in public, whereas Jeanneke Pis is not granted that freedom. ToiLetMeKnow was our solution to this gender inequality problem, and just as much thought the jury as we won the second price.

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By means of this blog, my team and I wish to thank Vlerick for the taught knowledge, given opportunity, and new classmate friends who helped us win the second price at this hackathon. Our price? A bootcamp at the Microsoft Organization Foundation to develop our idea into an actual start-up. We’ll ToiLetYouKnow on further notice.

 

Cheers,

Elien & Delia

 

 

Failing Forward, an inspirational conference about success and… failure!

Wednesday, 23 November 2016, 9:14 | Category : Masters
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On Wednesday November 16, 2016, Master of Innovation and Entrepreneurship students got the great opportunity to participate in the Failing Forward conference, an inspirational conference where European entrepreneurs share their honest testimonial about the ups and especially the downs of starting an own business.

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The Flemish Agency Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Agentschap Innoveren en Ondernemen) and startups.be organized once again their annual conference “Failing Forward” on November 16, 2016 in Brussels. The aim of this conference is to change the hard-rooted mentality in Flanders and to celebrate failure (as well as success).

Those of us who want to start a business, will have heard this already all too often – “why?”. Why aren’t you taking that well paid job instead of starting your business? Why can’t you be happy with your current situation? Why do you want to put everything at risk? It is exactly that mentality that is holding Flanders back and that Failing Forward wants to change. Indeed, starting a business never happens without risk, falling is part of the process and it’s by getting back on our feet that we learn. It’s with this message that Failing Forward will raise awareness about the topic in the coming four years, because failing is not contagious, success is.

Jef Colruyt (Colruyt Group), Lut Wyers (COCOMO and identify.me), Gemma Galdon Clavell (Eticas), Gert Bergen (advisor innovation and economic policy), Bart de Pauw (actor and screenwriter), Gerald Goldstein (Peak), Thomas Joos (innovator), Jannie Haek (National Lottery), and Michèle Sioen (VBO-FEB) all have one thing in common, well more than one thing actually. Firstly, they are all entrepreneurs – some have inherited a family business, some were appointed to the job, and others just started a whole new business from scratch. But their other point in common is maybe less obvious. They have not always been successful – somewhere in their careers, they have failed, but it didn’t hold them back from succeeding in the end. During the whole day, they broke the taboo about failing and shared with the audience their testimony. For most of them, it was the first time they talk about it in public, which made it even more authentic and powerful.

During the afternoon, three parallel sessions were also organized: power meetings, workshops, and a LIFE panel discussion. The first session was especially interesting for MIE students. Power meetings were 1-to-1 meetings with expert mentors and entrepreneurs in the field of Sales & Marketing, Funding, Growth, and Business Modeling and the perfect occasion to pitch and get feedback for our new venture proposal. The workshops organized by the organizing partners, discussed the topics of strategic value management (EY) and common pitfalls in big company transformation (ING). Finally, the LIFE panel discussion showed us results from a European study about the startup mentality and the main problems during different stages of growth.

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If you liked what you read and you believe starting a business is not without risk and it’s OK to take them, if you also want to change this mentality in Flanders and want to help spread the word, then sign this manifesto: http://metfalenenopstaan.be/manifest/.

Until next time,

Cassandra

 

More information:

http://metfalenenopstaan.be/
http://failingforward.eu/

Career Day I

Wednesday, 16 November 2016, 13:09 | Category : Career Event, Event, Masters
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Career Day I, 9th of November, Vlerick Business School Brussels – The Vlerick master students got the opportunity to experience 4 big companies, potentially future employers, in a more interactive way. Read more about our meeting with AB Inbev, Hilti, Nestlé, Reckitt Benckiser and Unilin below.

First on the agenda for both of us (Kaat and Gabrielle) was Nestlé. The HR Manager kicked the presentation off with an introduction about the company. Next Pieter-Jan and Simon, two Vlerick alumni, took the stage. They shared their experience at the company, being enrolled in the Young Graduate Program. Apparently, if you’re lucky to work at the pet food department you’re allowed to bring your dog to work sometimes! In general, the guys spoke about Nestlé with great passion and enthusiasm. After listening carefully to their presentations, everyone in the room was invited to participate in a little Kahoot-quiz about Nestlé. The winner would receive a bag full of Nestlé products so it was all hands on deck.*

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After a short coffee break it was time for the second presentation. Gabrielle attended a session of Unilin, who decided to take a different approach and gave the students a case to work on. Starting of with a short introduction about the company, they then talked a little bit more about one of the challenges they were currently facing. In groups of 4 to 8 people we got 20 minutes time discuss the case and come up with a conclusion. Three groups had to present their conclusions in front of the group. It was really interesting to work together with the other master students and get more insight in how B2B markets work!

Kaat’s second session was that of AB Inbev. Like Unilin, AB Inbev asked to think about a real case, namely the launch of Cubanisto in the Belgian market. After the story behind this new beer was told, we had 15 minutes to come up with a creative, fresh approach to introduce the beer in the nightlife scene. This exercise gave us a short impression of what it would be to work for a brewing company as AB Inbev; It made us reflect on the on trade and off trade market and what’s it like to create an experience around a product. For this case we worked in groups of 5 from different Vlerick master classes. It was an interesting experience to work with some of my fellow students with their own perspectives and see it come together into a rough first Cubanisto-campaign.

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Afterwards, it was time for the network reception. Here we had the opportunity to talk to the companies of whom we could not attend the presentations. Also, we could have a personal conversation with the people we already met during the presentation.

Thanks for reading and until next time,

Kaat Lavaerts
Gabrielle Burghouwt
M3 Students

*Gabrielle got lucky and now has a year supply of Nescafe and hot chocolate.

 

Vlerick International experience: food, drinks and much more!

Thursday, 13 October 2016, 11:51 | Category : International Event
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On Tuesday 11 October, the Vlerick Masters hosted this year’s first intercultural event, where 13 countries/regions represented their cultures by means of local dishes, drinks, traditional clothing, poems, etc.

At the Brussels campus, students from Masters in General Management, Masters in International Management and Strategy, Masters in Marketing, Masters in Financial Management and Masters in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, together with faculty staff enjoyed a colorfoul and tasting evening which promises not to be the last one!

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In the following months, students will have the opportunity to get to know the cultures of their colleges and to experience the international sphere of Vlerick!

Vlerick Masters

 

Another inspiring year at Vlerick has begun!

Friday, 2 September 2016, 6:59 | Category : Masters
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The 2016-2017 academic year has kicked off with 263 Masters students coming from 33 different countries from all around the globe. This year also marked the launch of two new masters’ degree programmes: a Masters in Innovation & Entrepreneurship in the Leuven campus and a Masters in International Management & Strategy in Brussels. Both programmes, which respond to a trend towards greater specialisation, immediately got off to a strong start with 29 and 35 students, respectively, from 14 different countries.

The students are fully immersed in the programme already, which for the first time are offering new electives, boot camps and international study trips including destinations such as Berlin, China, Silicon Valley, London and Dublin.

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

Looking forward to this academic year together!

Vlerick Masters

 

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Ni Hao

Ni hao. That was basically the only Chinese I knew before visiting the Red Dragon. Most of us only know the People’s Republic from items in the news, articles in news papers and magazines, all kind of literature we bumped into during our studies at Vlerick or prior at university or work or even just from watching the olympics back in 2008. But what does it mean to do business in China, to trade with Chinese partners, be a professional in this more than ever connected world? Frankly, we didn’t know what it really ment.

Our boot camp on International Management and Emerging Markets had the ambition to immerse us in one of the world’s fastest growing economies and enhance our curriculum with a real-life experience in China. Taking us to three totally different cities in over 10 days gave us three totally different perspectives on China.

Beijing was the place of take-off for us, with a first deep dive into doing business in China, Confucianism and economic policies from the People’s Republic trough different lectures at Beijing University. Company visits included technology driven ABB, CreditEase and Chinese owned LeTv.

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A few days later, the night train took us to our next stop: Shanghai. Besides visits to Lear, digital marketing agency Createc and Belgian owned Chinafloors, we had the unique opportunity to attend an evening organised by the Belgian Chamber of Commerce where Tim Condon, Managing Director at Asia ING Financial Markets, gave us his views on the development of the Chinese economy.

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Our last stop was Hong Kong, the Pearl of the Orient. Part of China but not really Chinese, we discovered the city’s unique relationship to the mainland and had the opportunity to visit Hong Kong Univeristy, one of the best universities in Asia.

Through a mix of lectures, company visits, challenges and cultural explorations we discovered how business is done in emerging markets. But China showed us much more. It enabled us to unravel a little more of what the world has to offer for us. And that’s what we’ll remember for the rest of our lives.

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Bram Jaques

Masters in General Management (MGM)

 

The Graduation Challenge is Here!

Wednesday, 27 April 2016, 9:09 | Category : Masters
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With our amazing year at Vlerick coming to a close, we have a final Graduation Challenge where each class has the chance to showcase what they’ve been up to this past year in their respective programs.

Watch the videos here, and vote by clicking “like” under your favorite video on YouTube!

Thanks and don’t forget to vote!

Ali Colwell
Master in Marketing Management (M3)

FinTech Bootcamp embarks to London

During the Fintech bootcamp, our group got the chance to spend a few days in London. Bootcamps are a period of three weeks during which students focus on a subject of their choice. The FinTech bootcamp was the first of its kind ever held at Vlerick, aiming to study the impact of digital disruptors like PayPal and TransferWise on traditional banking models.

Spending three days in London gave us a sneak peak of the local scene coined the center of FinTech.

Our program started in Canary Wharf, at the heart of the banking world. Our group observed the surroundings from the prestigious ‘Level 39’, a FinTech incubator nestled at the eponym level of a skyscraper. The view was breath taking.

The rest of our British adventure brought us to other financial hotspots like ‘Startupbootcamp’, another incubator where selected start ups get 3 months of coaching to boost their growth. We met with 3 entrepreneurs in residence who shared their stories, namely Mondo. Mondo is a 100% digital bank. Jason Bates, co-founder explained the vision of the company to become the ‘Google of banking’. Cool stuff!

Later in the day we received a warm welcome at WorldRemit. WorldRemit started in 2010 to facilitate remittances, that is sending money to one’s family abroad, a habit popular within families spread all over the world. WorldRemit offers this service online with competitive fees. Today the company has grown into a 250+ employees business. I really liked the three women involved in finance, communications and HR who presented the purpose of their jobs.

An evening conference at Imperial College addressing the clash between usual financial processes and innovative ones like the Bitcoin for instance closed our day.

Before heading back to Belgium we paid by a visit to a FabLab where 3D printing equipment is made available for anybody with a project. We got to handle drones, a mini satellite, phone chips and other tech gadgets.

Overall, this trip gave us a foretaste of what the coming years have to offer. Innovative services are on their way and we can literally not wait to see the tech prophecy realizing itself in the future.

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International student experience (USA/Slovakia)

The last interview was conducted on an Indian student, but the experience is obviously very different depending on the country. This time, the interviewee is Born in Slovakia, grew up in Germany and studied in the USA. Quite the world citizen !

Enjoy Florian’s (MGM Leuven) interview.

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Could you give a quick summary of your cursus?

For my Bachelor I studied at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona, USA.

I have obtained a “B.S. in Business Administration with a Minor in Finance & Economics” with magna cum laude honors.

Additionally to my studies I competed on the university’s Men’s Golf Team, which was the main reason why I went to study in America in first place.

 

For how long have you been in Belgium? And in Leuven?

Officially, I have been living in Belgium since the age of seven, which is about 17 years. However being from a Slovak family and living in the German region near the German border I never really got to experience the true Belgian culture. During my 17 years as a Belgian, I attended school in Germany for ten years and then spent 6 years abroad to finish up my High-School and undergraduate studies in USA. As you can see I am not the typical Belgian!

I have been back in Belgium since May 2014 and I quite enjoy it. Leuven which was totally new to me is a great city that is not too small nor too large for my taste. Everything is within 15-20minute walking distance and having a bicycle really cuts down on traveling time. Owning, and more importantly keeping, a bike in Leuven isn’t such an easy feat as people especially after 2 in the morning love to borrow bikes without necessarily returning them J

 

Do you feel like the education system is different from where you studied?

I have studied Business Administration before joining Vlerick, so the content is similar to what I have experienced before. In my mind Vlerick just puts a bigger emphasis on the managerial insights and shows us ways in which we can interpret certain issues.

The big difference I see at Vlerick, compared to my prior university, is the pace of the content being thrown at you. The student at Vlerick really has to be organized and have solid time management skills. At first it can seem overwhelming to keep track of all projects and deadlines, but after a while one simply adapts and gets used to it.

 

What advice would you give to a foreign student coming to Vlerick?

I would advice to come to Leuven about a week or two before the studies start. Once the year kicks off, the student gets busy really fast. In order to reduce stress levels a bit the student should take time to get to know the city before school starts so that he knows his way around.

 

Prepare à follow the business news to get a feeling of what is going on in the world

Stay positive à even though you might get overwhelmed in the beginning it will get easier as you move forward! No need to panic J

Drinks à there is more beers to try than you can think of, so you better start tasting them as soon as possible to find your favorite Belgian brew!

Food à Have Belgian fries with mayonnaise, followed up by a tasty waffle for dessert!

 

 

Thanks Florian ! 

International student experience (India)

Being a foreign student can be sometimes quite daunting. Discovering a new culture, languages and way of life, as well as tackling all the administrative tasks (particularly in Belgium) may scare away prospective students. We thought that sharing the experience of an Indian student arriving in Leuven (not even Brussels!) could help others to take their leap of faith.

Here under you can find a short interview of Vivek, an Indian MGM Leuven student.

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 09.57.55For how long have you been in Belgium? And in Leuven?

I arrived in Belgium on 21st august 2015 and came to Leuven the same day.

 How do you cope with the cultural differences for the moment?

I have changed schools six times for various reasons. Although it was not a change of culture but still it meant a great lot for me at that time. And because of such experiences in the past I am now used to changes. What I do to cope up with the cultural differences here in Belgium is that I try to copy whatever I see and act as if that is what I have been doing all my life. And sometime when I mistakenly do something do hurt someone then I try to be as direct as possible and explain the situation to that person to avoid any kind of miscommunication.

What strikes you the most in Belgium compared to India?

Living a happy life is more important for the people of Belgium than money. People enjoy their lives. Had you been rich in India, you would either be showing of your money in whatever way possible or trying to increase your wealth assuming that it might bring you happiness someday but here in Belgium, as long as people get their beer and can party, they are happy. And it is because of this reason that I might want to live here in Belgium and pay taxes for its population.

Do you feel like the education system is different from where you studied?

From what I have heard, other students used to study the same way in the universities as I used to in India, bunking classes and going out quite often. So there is not much of a difference there.
The scoring system might be a bit different but the level of difficulty that I would have to face in a business school of similar calibre in India is, according to me, the same.

What advice would you give to an Indian student coming to Vlerick?

I came here just after completing engineering and didn’t work. This is adding to my problems in getting a job here in Belgium. I would advise him/her to consider working for a while before coming here.

Also I would suggest him/her to start learning either of the languages (Dutch /French) before coming here so that it can be easier for that person to mix up with the locals, who are a big majority in the college, and also it would help a lot in of job related matters.

 

Thank you, hope you’ll keep enjoying your stay here !