MGM Ghent’s last week of the semester: cracking the Goldstein case

Saturday, 9 January 2016, 9:30 | Category : Masters
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The last mile is the longest

In the final week of an intensive, yet incredibly satisfying, first semester, taking it slow was not an option. From Monday morning until Thursday morning, the single most important thing on every MGM-Ghent student’s mind was how to improve the Return On Capital Employed (ROCE) of the Goldstein Brewery. Just as in the Deep Dive Challenge, where we were required to act as strategy consultants for the Duvel-Moortgat brewery, beer was yet again the product under scrutiny. Coincidence or not, but this was perfectly in line with the market research that we extensively conducted with our class during our first months at Vlerick (and Swa-bar)!

About a week and a half before the start of Goldstein, the group division was put on Eduweb. Being alarmed on our common Whatsapp-group about this fact, all of us were in a hurry to satisfy our curiosity. The composition of the group is extremely relevant since you will be “locked up” in a small Break-Out Room (BOR) with them. The Goldstein-case began on Monday and ended on Thursday, lasting approximately 72 hours. 72 Hours without sleep turn some people into cranky monsters and bring out the lamest jokes in others (I’m not targeting a single person… But I’m certainly referring to Enzo). Research at Vlerick has shown that the time to the deadline can be reliably measured by the decrease of level of intelligence in the jokes. On Wednesday night, as time faded and exhaustion rose, we reached a peak in low-level jokes. Yet overall, the group dynamics worked out really well. This was a blessing considering 72 hours can last very long when you’re fighting in your group as if you were already married for 25 years. Although I must admit that, for a moment, I was the subject of some serious Turkish swearing by my Turkish team-mate (no offense taken Okan, I probably deserved that one!). I don’t think I can translate the exact words without being expelled from Vlerick.



Let the games begin…

On Monday, 14th of December, we started the Goldstein case with a general session on the objectives and the planning. After an hour, every group was released to their assigned Break-Outs to brainstorm about the various problems the Goldstein-company was facing and on how we would be able to tackle them. We didn’t have access to the data-platform yet, because our faculty (validly) assumed we would get lost in the maze of the massive amount of data available. At the end of the day there was a first meeting/presentation with the professor in order to check whether we were on the right track with the identification of our problems. Most of us were not.

Tuesday began with a presentation by a PWC representative on how to use the “Equazion”-platform for data retrieval and analysis. The introduction to “Equazion” – a tool used by PWC to analyse companies- added another interesting dimension to the case. After the presentation, the actual race against the clock started. Given the level of competitiveness, which is without any doubt a lot higher between Vlerick-students than in any other environment, we pushed ourselves to the limit to deliver our best possible performance. Dust was thrown in other groups’ eyes, bicycle tires were flattened and Game of Thrones-tactics were deployed. The subsequent 48 hours were filled with rollercoasters of emotions, professional burn-outs, the birth of new friendships and the end of others, moments of despair and euphoria, nervous breakdowns, insults towards each other and towards Vlerick, etc…

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On Thursday, around 02.30 AM, at the darkest moment of the night, our group finally submitted our presentation and report. By the time we made it to our beds, we had less than 5 hours of sleep before meeting again to practice our presentation. The next morning was filled with coffee and adrenaline for every student. We delivered a satisfying presentation in front of a jury, consisting of PWC representatives. A feeling of recognition for our work and a beer offered by the professor on duty was our reward.

There was no class planned for the afternoon, yet we didn’t have the opportunity to catch up on sleep as we had yet another deadline for the “Entrepreneurship” class the next day. There was also some time for relaxing though, as most of us attended the annual Vlerick Winter Reunion that night. Key-note speaker Mark Gallagher delivered an exciting speech on what business can learn from Formula 1-racing. After the speech, we were able to capture some beers at the open bar where we discussed the intense adventures we had been through that week. For some of us, the night ended in Overpoort aka the Magic Gate, despite the fact we were expected in class at 09.00 AM the next morning.



Our programme was probably planned to exhaust us to the utmost in the last week. Before we were finally able to enjoy some well-deserved vacation during the Christmas break, we still had some hard nuts to crack. But right now, the Vlerick-birds have fled the nest. Some of us are now on a ski-holiday, others in a more sunny location and some (of the internationals) simply went home. We all now need to reload our batteries and take a small break from Vlerick. Yet I’m certain that most of us will already start to long for the second semester to start again within a few days. And, in the meantime, the thoughts about cutting costs in order to improve the ROCE will keep on popping up in some of our dreams for the time to come.



Words: Pieter Deleersnyder, MGM Ghent 2016

23rd December 2015

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