MGM Berlin Study Trip – Siemens visit

Tuesday, 25 June 2019, 12:47 | Category : Company Visit, International trip, Masters in General Management
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At Vlerick we had the privilege to have an amazing Berlin trip. The subject of the trip was “impossible futures”, and therefore the trip was filled with interesting lectures about the future, and visits to companies who are frontrunners on innovation and research. For every timeslot, we had the choice of a few companies. Siemens Mobility was a very popular choice and the group was filled quite fast.

This is of course because the name Siemens has a certain grandeur among technology companies, and the trains and trams by Siemens are a known transportation mode in Belgium as well. At the company, we got great insights in the way Siemens is preparing itself for the future, with short introductions to multiple ways Siemens is working on innovations. In a one-day workshop, the digitization trends in mobility and the future of rail automation were discussed together.

In the second part of the company visit, we were treated to an in detail look at the locomotive of the future and a lot of our colleagues who chose for other companies were quite jealous when they heard we even had the opportunity to drive a train simulator!

Bernd Keller, ETCS (European Train Control System) Onboard, Retrofit Management, invited us to an inspection of the TC Lina, the Retrofit Test Locomotive. The bright blue locomotive was completely restored some time ago and was equipped with all necessary ETCS components in various installation variants.
We were able to see a live demonstration of how Siemens Mobility can retrofit trains already in service with the latest technology to make them fit for ETCS standards.

A highlight of the day was the ETCS laboratory. Inside the test lab, we had the opportunity to slip into the role of a train driver. The heart of the ETCS laboratory is the realistic setup of a driver’s cab with all the typical controls of a train.
After a brief introduction, we were able to test our skills as train drivers and set off for an independent test run. A small screen shows the field of view from the driver’s cabin.
The train control system ETCS determines information on the speed and position of the train and controls the driving behavior via the driver’s platform display. If, for example, the train’s recommended speed is exceeded, the system warns the driver to adjust the speed via the travel and brake switch. If a station is approached, the system emits a signal to initiate the braking process in time. We were soon able to prove ourselves as passable locomotive drivers.

Long story short: the Vlerick management students took some valuable lessons back to Belgium from Siemens mobility, a visit we will be sure to not forget in the coming years!

(Pictures property of Siemens Mobility DE)

The best month of our lives: Global immersion trip MIMS

With the end of March approaching, all the MIMS students were getting excited to leave for China and Japan. We had a busy schedule planned, going from Beijing to Shanghai to Hong Kong and then leaving for Japan to visit Tokyo and Kyoto. Thanks to Gaia, our program manager, for arranging all the visits we were sure we would experience a very interesting and enriching trip.

We arrived at our first stop, Beijing, where we first took the opportunity to visit the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and enjoyed a local tea tasting before diving into the Chinese business culture. During the first week, we visited Peking University, Hyundai Corporation factory and Innoway Incubator. At the university, we had a lecture by professor Tony Liu and he taught us about Chinese business practices and Confucianism. At Hyundai, we had a tour through the assembly lines in the factory and were faced with the local car market. It was very impressive to see how many cars were produced per day. To see the contrast to a large multinational, we visited Innoway Incubator the same day. In this street, digital start-ups from around the world are welcomed to open an office and they are supported and guided by Innoway in growing their network and knowledge. Artificial intelligence and robotics were omnipresent and we were introduced to a lot of cool features. One robot for example scanned your face and guessed your age, beauty and sex. Next to that, we could run on a treadmill surrounded by cameras and scans and after a few minutes, you received a full analysis of your body, fat percentage, heart rate, physical condition and running method, which could be confronting for some of us 😉 Besides the company visits, we tried traditional dishes like rice, noodles and Peking duck. We fully emerged ourselves into the local culture and we were ready for the next cities to come!

From Beijing we took the night train to Shanghai were we spend an amazing week. While Beijing is more traditional, Shanghai is more a combination of traditional and international, which is very fascinating. It is a city of contrasts in many ways! We visited so many companies of different kinds and one very interesting one was the port of Yangshan. It’s a deep water port that was recently built outside of Shanghai and they have ambitions of becoming the largest container port worldwide. The same day we also got a lecture from Jan Van der Borght, the representative of the Port of Antwerp. He explained us the logistic methods in China and gave some insights in the Chinese business world from a European perspective.

And if you think it cannot get any better, yet it happened by flying to Hong Kong. Despite the crowdedness and the humidity, I think it’s my favourite city! There is a great atmosphere and the dynamism and innovation of the companies and start-ups we visited was overwhelming. One company I liked very much was Diginex, a financial trading start-up. In two years, they have grown so much and their office with a view over the city was impressive, the least to say. During our free time, we went to the local horse races in the middle of the city, enjoyed the local food, went hiking and afterwards rewarded ourselves with some relaxing at the beach. This city was perfect to end our stay on the Chinese continent and get ready for a new cultural chapter: Japan.

Tokyo is a crazy city! The gaming and cartoon culture, the karaoke, the crowdedness in the metros and the streets, the typical intense working culture and the discipline of the locals were an eyeopener for every one of us. We were so happy to discover it all and also that we got the chance to meet students from the Shizenkan Business School. We had lectures and discussion the whole day in small mixed groups and they explained us about the growth of the Japanese economy and their vision on the future. Finally we ended our trip with a 2 night stay in Kyoto, a very beautiful city with a lot of history. We visited a brewery of Sake, the local rice wine and said goodbye to this wonderful trip during a delicious farewell dinner with the entire group.

I am so grateful to have been able to go on this group with our class. It was like a trip with our big family and we learned so much. So I want to say thank you to Vlerick and especially to Gaia for this amazing organisation and letting us experience all these unique moments.

News from the Ocean

On the 16th of March all students, alumni, professors, and faculty joined our Annual event, the Vlerick Gala Ball 2019. The Artcube in Ghent sank into a deep sea of music, food and dancing, and all guests were fully immersed in this year’s “Tales of the Ocean” edition.

The Ball started with an amazing reception and after the greetings and networking were finished, all guest could enjoy a delicious dinner from the Catering Joost De Paepe. The party after brought a lot of surprises: famous DJs, balloons that were falling from the ceiling, flying soap bubbles and hanging jellyfish.

The party is already over but we would love to share with you some great news: thanks to all of you we will donate around € 2700 to Sea Sheperd! Congratulations!

Established in 1977, Sea Shepherd is an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization. Their mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species.

We would especially like to thank all the sponsors and The Vlerick Ball committee that made the Ball happen:  Julie Van de Voorde, Benoît Masschelein, Hendrik Alliet, Lavinia Soubry, Renée Godyn, Charlotte Lismont, Bob Verbruggen, Gilles Bodart, Pauline Van Hove, Amélie Vandenberghe, Suzanne Ogiers, Anne-Sophie Vermeire, Evelyne De Keukeleire, Manou Nys, Yulia Zhuk, Florence Delcoigne and of course our incredible alumnus Ruben D’Hooghe.

The Ocean is proud of you and thanks you for your support!

DUBLIN TRIP: A visit to Google

Wednesday, 10 April 2019, 12:27 | Category : Masters
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Since Dublin is the European Walhalla for Tech companies, it is no wonder that Google has an office there too! The Google-campus is a smaller version of the sunny Californian Googleplex, with different buildings around the Irish Capital. We had the opportunity to visit these buildings from the inside and to have a look at how the Google-world is functioning. We were guided by former Vlerick students, who were nice to explain their day to day job at Google and give us some insights about the company and the technologies that they are developing right now.

What really struck us during the guided tour, were the multiple accommodations provided for the employees: innovative, nicely conceived offices, different restaurants where the employees can eat a tasty meal for free, gaming areas, wellness areas and even a swimming pool. This reflects the fact that Google, but also the other tech companies we visited, apply an innovative, well thought-through, open working culture with a focus on the well-being of the employees. This ensures the daily motivation of the employees who therefore will be able to guarantee the further growth of Google.

Besides providing us a tour, the formal Vlerick students accommodated an interesting presentation about technology and the role that Google plays within it. A really intriguing part was about the increasing importance of technology and how it will change and shape the future. We will get rid of “dumb devices” and replace them by smarter ones. For a device to be smart it has to be able to process a lot of data in a short time span and it has to be able to connect to your phone, smartwatch and internet. These new “smart devices” will change the way we will be living, and we are very excited to be a part of these changes.

One of the things we saw at Google was their significant growth with regard to Artificial Intelligence. The main goal of Google’s advancements is to apply AI to products and to develop tools in order to ensure that everyone can access the benefits of AI. As Google’s mission is to organize and make all information accessible for everyone, AI is helping them to do this in a more efficient way. Some concrete examples we saw at Google were the improvement of Google Translate and the Google Assistant.

We really liked that this visit to Google was part of our Masters programme in Marketing Management. The first months of our Marketing programme we saw theory, practiced the gained knowledge in cases and now we saw how alumni were working and dealing with the real stuff. Seeing them and hearing their testimonials makes us hunger to implement our knowledge as well in our job next year. Some people of the class got really interested by the working culture at Google and job descriptions to try their chance to become a future employee there.

DUBLIN TRIP: Master in marketing management students LIKE Facebook

Tuesday, 9 April 2019, 13:04 | Category : International trip, Masters in Marketing Management
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On the third day of our study trip to Dublin we visited Facebook, LIKE! Nowadays, everyone knows the company and uses one of their apps at least once a day but we were curious how life is at the other side of the platform. We got a warm welcome from Dries Smet, a Vlerick alumnus of 2018. He now holds the position of Account Manager Belgium Luxembourg in Facebook. He showed us around the colourful office which gave us the impression that Facebook has a very open culture with a lot of diversity.

After a small introduction, we got into the core of Facebook as a marketing platform where people can not only share ideas, but also promote them. Dries Smet highlighted the four drivers that make an idea great: curation, community, conversation and commerce. Facebook plays a crucial role in each of these drivers and that makes it such a strong company. Modern generations know Facebook mostly for sharing pictures and events, but it is of great importance for businesses, big and small, to reach and activate a wider audience. Did you know that there are around 10 billion C2B messages each day? The visit gave us the great insight in the future for businesses at Facebook. Our previous classes of digital marketing skills during the year showed us already a heads up on the SEO and SEM of Google, but during the visit at Facebook, we understood the value of social media for businesses.

Next up was the talent scout Niamh Cusack. She gave us some great tips and tricks if we ever wanted to work for Facebook. They look for people with innovative mindsets who fit into a company that promotes diversity. Employees need to be open, bold and ambitious. If employees have these values, then Facebook will most certainly like them. To finish our visit, Hashim Syed, who is account manager for the UK and Ireland, talked about his path at Facebook and he shared with us how an average week looks like for him. So we saw his ping pong tournaments during working hours combined with some meetings with colleagues about new clients. (This is how everyone’s schedule should look like, if you ask us 😉 ) “San-Francisco is like Disneyland” was Hashims quote of the day. Apparently Facebook flies you there in the first 4 weeks you work with them. They showed us what it looks like and we must admit, it looks a pretty amazing HQ!

3 lessons we learned from our company visit with the masters in marketing management at Facebook are:

  • the crucial part of having a good connection with your client
  • the future of digital marketing for businesses
  • last but not least, life is too short to not have fun at work.

All M3 students want to give their thumbs up for the memorable experience at Facebook and want to thank them for all the snacks and drinks they provided us with!

DUBLIN TRIP: Inspiring guest speakers at CAI

Monday, 8 April 2019, 14:03 | Category : Company Visit, International trip, Masters in Marketing Management
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During the afternoon of our second day in Dublin we were welcomed by the Chartered Accountants Ireland to attend presentations of three key note speakers. We got the opportunity to get  insights in the achievements of SalesForce and Microsoft. Next to that, we learned more about SEO migration through the knowledge sharing moment of Eamonn O’Raghallaigh, adjunct lecturer at Trinity Business School. The day ended in a very fun way during the networking reception with – yay! – some free drinks.

At the start of the session, alumni Yannick Convens and Debbie de Bruijn tried to enthuse us to kick start a career in sales. By sharing their own experiences from the past, we learned that you cannot be a great salesperson as of day one. Instead, you learn so much on the job itself by failing sometimes but succeeding the next time.Of course, the master programme that we are currently attending helps us to succeed even faster!

The next speaker was Eamonn O’Raghallaigh, a true Irishman, recognizable by his typical Irish name. He introduced us in the very interesting subject of SEO migration in web development. He made us realize that the impact of changing your website is far greater than just altering certain page names or titles. When you don’t keep track of what URLs you’re changing, your business could lose its place in the Google search, resulting in catastrophic losses for your company. Adjust those URLs is the message here!

The third and last speaker of the afternoon was Annelies Bulkens, Inside Sales Manager at Microsoft. She gave us an insight on how to build a digital sales organisation, as well as how Microsoft takes on this challenge specifically. Maintaining a personal relationship while scaling up the business was one of the challenges, but Annelies stressed the importance of keeping this personal touch. We also got the opportunity to ask her a number of questions which she answered in a very constructive and educational manner.

The afternoon ended very nicely with an informal drink in a typical Irish pub called “The Lombard”, where we had the chance to enhance our networking skills. Several employees from Google, Microsoft and other very interesting companies such as LinkedIn were present. They were very willing to answer all our burning questions about working at those companies, moving to Dublin and enjoying life. The fact that the drinks were paid by Vlerick made this an extra amusing end of our second day in Dublin. Cheers!

P&G CEO Challenge: European Final

Sunday, 7 April 2019, 10:20 | Category : Masters
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This week our students (Iuliia Zhuk M3 and Mario Vanderlinden MIE) will represent Belgium in the European final of the CEO challenge from Procter and Gamble.
P&G CEO Challenge is an International Multi-Level Case Study Competition that gathers top students around the world. The European final takes place in Istanbul, Turkey.
The winning team will advance to the Global Final in Dubai and will have the opportunity to join the P&G Signal Conference 2019 and meet P&G CEO, David Taylor.
Let’s wish them a lot of luck!

DUBLIN TRIP: How to use Inbound Marketing as a new way of advertising.

On the second of our Dublin trip, our M3 class had the honour to visit the Hubspot office in Dublin. Hubspot is a leading inbound marketing, sales and services CRM company. They are helping millions of customers to grow better. They were originally designed to help small and medium-sized businesses compete in the marketplace, and they found that outbound techniques, which were more interruptive (billboards, cold-calling), were not working so much. Therefore, they decided to focus on inbound and how to attract customers to your website through the power of SEO, social media, and inbound marketing. So far, they have helped over 52.000 customers in over 90 countries globally.

The first takeaway is that there are four inbound marketing areas. Firstly, permission-based marketeers ask you for your contact details in order to contact you concerning their services. Secondly, content creation is about displaying relevant content to your customers in order to solve their questions/needs. Thirdly, lifecycle marketing is about identifying someone based on what you know about them and then sending out targeted content. Finally, you need to be wherever your leads are, which is called multi-channel presence.

The second take-away consists of the attract-engage-delight methodology on which Hubspot’s inbound marketing is built. The attraction phase is used to push content that is valuable to customer X and allows X to be found (video, ads or social media). In the engagement phase, the focus is on getting the prospect’s email address, from which we can receive a call-to-action. Once Hubspot gets the contact information, they can start nurturing to eventually turn a lead into a customer. Eventually, the goal is to delight the customer because they are the asset that keeps your business running. Therefore, we need to keep providing customers with valuable content and tailor this content to the customer’s specific needs. In this way, customers will become more loyal and willing to promote your brand.

The last take-away covers the fundamentals that you need in order to succeed in inbound marketing. Firstly, it is important to always use a buyer persona based on data because this will help you to stay aligned. Secondly, you should take into account the buyer’s journey consisting of awareness, consideration and decision. Lastly, it is key to create remarkable content which is perfectly tailored towards the customer’s preferences and goals.

At Hubspot, we’ve learned how to use inbound marketing as a new way of advertising. During this visit, we did not only learn more about the teamspirit and the company atmosphere, but we were taught that there are four inbound marketing areas: permission-based marketeers that ask for your contact details, content creation, lifecycle marketing and multi-channel presence. Additionally, we got introduced to the attract-engage-delight methodology. Last but not least, we learned how to succeed in inbound marketing with the use of personas.

DUBLIN TRIP: From being like Rolls Royce to competing with Hertz. How Oracle is adapting to the shifts in the IT market.

On the first day of our International Business Trip to Dublin with the Masters in Marketing Management, we had an exclusive visit to Oracle. With a 50% margin, 130 000 people working globally and a turnover of around 40 billion dollars in 2018, you could say that the 42-year-old IT company Oracle is doing just fine. However, they are facing some major challenges in the IT market. Big shifts around cloud computing are disrupting the landscape. What used to be ‘selling expensive software to wealthy companies’ has changed to increase the rental business to obtain a bigger market. Senior Director Alan Lawless explains how Oracle will always try to stay the number 1.

When you get the chance to attend a lecture of Senior Director Alan Lawless, you will immediately realize your presentation skills can still improve. The man knows how to engage with his audience and has a unique style of presenting. In a sort of stand-up comedy way, he explains how Oracle is trying to be as efficient and lean as possible. It starts with the different customer conversations they are having, the importance of being faster and customized. “Cloud computing has changed h ow we consume technology”, so back-end options are different too. It all illustrates the changing need of customers.

Oracle needed to get rid of the high-end and expensive image and embrace selling in a new way by focusing more on rental. For example, offering new products to new customers. A transformation ‘Oracle Digital’ is trying out. “There are a lot of players out there, but often they are a one-trick pony”, Lawless points out. “However, Oracle maintains its values: we still strive to be the premium, number one company.” Oracle just learned to be smart and addressed the mid-market. It’s all about scaling, letting a million people use their products for less money. “Everyone knows it’s good, but now you can afford it and still have the best.”

In our master’s in marketing management, some classes like service marketing from professor Adam Rapp for example, pointed out the impact of technology on providing services. Alan Lawless explained this further: “Oracle sells integrative programs for all parts of a company because if you use different programs for everything, that is where the fraud comes in.” This company visit showed us a real-life example of how technology impacts providing services. They showed us how to learn from experiences in the past to build a flexible, attractive and up-to-date offer in the future.

Lawless summarizes Oracle as the one company that makes it all work. A reliable vendor offering the whole package: from IT to sales and marketing, customers service, operations, HR and Finance.

What we learned from this exciting company visit is the following:

  • Firstly, be a lean organization. Customers’ needs will always change over time.
  • Secondly, know what your strengths and weaknesses are. Utilize your strong points to outperform the weak ones.
  • Finally, we learned to look at the bigger picture. Connecting the dots within an organization based on the same system leads to an effective, efficient and flexible process that is ready to take on the future.

L’Oréal Brandstorm competition kick-off

20th of March we had the L’Oréal Brandstorm competition kick-off in Brussels.

It’s a huge competition with 34.000 students from 65 countries participating!

First, Bibiane Logie (Marketing Director Vichy & CeraVé) presented the history of L’Oréal, how their products have evolved, what their vision is, how they come up with new products and some info on the market. Next, Magali Jadoul (Talent Acquisition Manager at L’Oréal) went into further detail about the competition and what’s expected. After this, Georgi Van Droogenbroeck (M3 alumnus from last year), who won the Vlerick final last academic year with his team members Zoë Buyckx and Laura Meuleman, shared his experience with the competition, even presented his pitch from last year, and gave the current competing students lots of advice on how to succeed like really thinking outside of the box! At the end, our prof. Barbara Briers sat down with the students for a first coaching session to really get started.

This year 2 teams are ready to innovate:
-Team M3: Kaat De Sutter, Iuliia Zhuk, Leonie Deschuymer
-Team MGMG: Sylvie Roosen, Lara van Opdorp, Natasja Cox

Our Vlerick campus final will be on April 26th, the Belgian national final on May 8th, and winners can go to the worldwide final in Paris on May 23rd.

Good luck!!!