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.

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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.

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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.

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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

MFM Trip to Amsterdam

Wednesday, 7 December 2016, 13:37 | Category : Masters
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Greetings fellow students, prospective students, alumni and really all the great people reading this. This is my first (and definitely not last) blog for the year 2016-17 so bear with me. I want to share our experience with you guys.

The Master’s in Financial Management program offers many opportunities for students to meet finance professionals and executives from a great deal of companies. One week we are in Bovendonk taking on a case for Pfizer, the next we are roaming the streets of Brussels to the headquarters of Bpost for a presentation from the CFO. I know we’re cool.

amsterdam-1Last week’s adventure took place in Amsterdam! It started at 5 A.M (5:30 for some of us that live closer to campus) and we met outside the bus at 6 A.M ready to depart at 6:30. Surprisingly too me, most of the guys were energetic and ready to take on the day. Everyone seemed to have gotten to bed early the night before, which for me (and I’m sure for most MFM’ers) is midnight. After about an hour of excitement and chit chat the inevitable happened. Suddenly, the bus was quiet. La sommeille nous on attraper! If you listened attentively, you could actually hear people calculating WACC in their sleep J

After approximately two and a half to three hours we arrived in Amsterdam. It was exciting for me especially because it was my first time there. Our first visit was at ABN Amro. ABN Amro is the leading investment bank in the Benelux area and one of the biggest players in M&A and corporate advisory in Europe. We got into the dauntingly beautiful office building and waited for the bankers that would host us for the morning activities. We settled into one of the meeting rooms, got some coffee and cookies (ok, a lot of cookies) and it was straight to business. The Managing director of the Netherlands region gave us a presentation before we split up into groups to commence with the M&A business game. After that it was lunch time. We were treated to some sandwiches at the fancy Oliver’s restaurant where we joined by some more bankers and Vlerick MFM alumni. Networking of course!

Lunch was short-lived as we were a little bit behind schedule. Our next visit was to Optiver, a trading company that uses its own financing to perform its’ main business of ‘market making’. I’d explain more but the nerd in me would bore you so just check Investopedia. We did not know what to expect at Optiver but after our visit, I can speak for of us that Optiver made an impression on us. They presented the company and what they do to us. Of course one of the presenters was MFM alumni. Not long after, we took a grueling numerical test; 80 questions in 8 minutes! After the test we split into groups to play a market making game where we estimated the size of Ghent in km2 and the amount of beer consumed by the average customer in a year. Fun but challenging it was.

Lastly we played a trading game online. This gave us a snippet into the life of a trader. Taking calls (missing calls) from banks, buying, selling, quoting, making spreads, it was all a flash but we learnt a lot. As if they hadn’t gotten our attention already, they decided to treat us to an arsenal of delicious pizzas. Work Hard, Eat Hard?

Unfortunately the day came to an end and it was time to go. Would’ve loved to stay but our Capital Budgeting & Valuation amsterdam-trip-2
professor wouldn’t be very happy the next morning. We got our coats, got into the bus and hit the road. Very typical of us, we quickly started to use what we learnt during the day and incorporated it into our jokes. “Minutes it takes to get to get back to Brussels, first bid, 180 – 200.”

 

“SELL!!”

(Terrible finance jokes, it’s one way to live, don’t judge)

Overall it was an incredible day and hope future MFM’ers get to enjoy it as much as we did.

Till next,

Boris

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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2 Beijing Lecture

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)