Meeting up with top entrepreneurial leaders during Vlerick Boardroom Series

Recently, we (Gijs Kriger, Jens Jacob, Gilian Verschooten, Stephan Verhelst and myself) got the opportunity to meet up with Mr. Frank Donck in the context of meeting a Board member of Vlerick Business School. Frank Donck is a Masters in Financial Management alumnus from Vlerick and currently is managing director of the private equity firm 3d investors. Mr. Donck is member of various Boards of listed companies (Atenor, Barco, Elia, Luxempart and KBC) and non-listed firms. He is also vice-chairman of Vlerick Business School and a member of Belgium’s Corporate Governance Commission. Quite a list, and since we had only one hour with him, we couldn’t wait to start asking our questions.

We met up with Mr. Frank Donck in the context of meeting a Board member of Vlerick Business School.

We kicked off the evening by introducing ourselves and asking what the usual route into Private Equity (PE) is, by either doing PE internships first or by gaining experience in investment banking or consulting. Mr. Donck answered that he has seen multiple different routes into PE (direct, as an analyst, through investment banks or through functions at larger corporates) but that it is important, when making those choices, to be passionate about what you do and not force yourself in a certain track or industry (life is too short to do unpleasant things deliberately).

You have to accept that not everything will be perfect

When we asked Mr. Donck about how he manages to handle high expectations and pressure in combination with a family, he told us that it is of the utmost importance that your family life is in balance, that you have lots of help and that there is give and take. You have to accept that not everything will be perfect. Or as the French say: le mieux est parfois l’ennemi du bien.  It is extremely difficult to manage crises in your professional and personal life at the same time.

It is very important to accept that your career will have ups and downs.

Mr. Donck also told us that failure and success are sometimes not far away from each other. He gave us an example of the time when he was chairman in the Board of Telenet. In 2002, the company was in financial distress and on the verge of bankruptcy. Three years later in 2005, the company went public and it was perceived as a success story. This shows how stories about success can quickly be seen as fairy tales, but it’s sometimes worth adding some nuance.  In this respect, it is very important to accept that your career will have ups and downs.  You just have to keep going in the understanding that this will happen. You don’t get to hear the stories that turn out badly nor what risks have been taken to achieve success.

Our hour was over in no time and we quickly took a picture at the end of our talk to remember this moment. We are grateful for this opportunity and we would like to thank all Vlerick staff involved for making this happen. We would also like to thank Mr. Donck for making some time for us and sharing his insights and wisdom with us.

boardroom series

Boardroom Series with Mr. Frank Donck

Written by Karel De Potter (current Masters in Financial Management student)

 

Beursrally: MFM students compete in virtual investment competition boosting team & competitive spirit

The Beursrally/Rallye Boursier is a virtual investment competition organized by the Belgian newspaper that mainly focuses on business and economics, De Tijd (Mediafin). This challenge lasts from the 16th of November until the 22nd of January. The goal? Choose the right investment portfolio with a budget of 50k to achieve as many gains as possible on the stock market. The rally provides an option to compete within a team against one another. This year the competition held over 30.825 participants, of which almost 7000 are students. The players are aged between 18 and 94. One of our Masters in Financial Management (MFM) students, Gijs Kriger, had the idea to start an internal competition within the Masters in Financial Management at Vlerick Business School.

The competition has been going steady for a couple of weeks and the final countdown is getting closer. The participating students and professors have chosen vastly different portfolios, which of course is visible in the results of the players. The leading player, Camil Boukari, has already gained returns of over 12k, whilst we have other players who have ended up making losses as well. It all depends on the risk the players are willing to take to become part of the victorious.

The Beursrally competition has really fired up the competitive spirit within the MFM students. To continue this pleasant rivalry, the founder of the competition keeps us informed about the state of the competition. These past few weeks Gijs Kriger has taken it unto himself to send us weekly updates about the competition. He mentions some interesting people from the leaderboard, highlights some of the investment strategies, and discusses different portfolios chosen by the students who are engaged. This weekly update has shown to be quite popular around campus, with everyone looking forward to a new informative update.

beursrally mfm update

Read the final edition of the Vlerick Times (click on image above)

Yasmine: The Beursrally is a very popular subject amongst the students right now. It has gotten a lot of people invested in the stock market and they seem to be actually enjoying the learning process as well. Is this something you foresaw, or how did you come about organizing this Beursrally?

Gijs: I participated in the competition last year, as well. For me personally, it was a very insightful experience and a great introduction to trading. During these COVID times, I also felt the need to make sure our master’s in financial management class was still engaging with one another. As such, I came up with the idea to organize something for which I could combine my interest in participating in the challenge again, whilst also boosting unity within our class. This rally is not part of our official curriculum, so the students get time to bond and learn out of the school context. Another driving factor was the low need for time in this rally. I realized last year; the competition does not take up more than a couple of minutes each day. An ideal combination, especially with the famously packed program the students of the financial master have.

Yasmine: Being one of the participants of the competition, I can definitely vouch for that. It does not take up too much time, it is more so a slow learning process spread over the weeks. Of course, it might not have been time-consuming for us, the participants, but for you, as an organizer, a lot of work must have gone into this project.

Gijs: Correct. Especially in the beginning, I had to set up a lot of stuff. I contacted several professors to ask whether they had any interest in joining the competition. I asked Vlerick Professor of Financial Services, Simon Ashby, to give a lecture, a sort of ‘investment strategies for dummies’. This lecture ended up being rather fruitful as well. Students took the given advice into consideration and did actually invest in Moderna and Pfizer as was suggested in the lecture. I also made sure my classmates got very excited about the competition, which I continued to do. That is the reason why I keep making weekly updates, it keeps everyone engaged. I must also admit that secretly I also like making the updates.

Yasmine: This weekly update you give, can you give me some information about the contents and how you came about them?

Gijs: Well, as I mentioned before they exist to keep the competitive beast in all of us alive. The update I provide is also rather short, it is a quick read, with only relevant information present. To add a little bit of extra spice, I decided to upgrade the formatting of my weekly updates. It looks a lot more appealing than a plain email.

Yasmine: Thank you very much Gijs. I think on behalf of the entire MFM class I can kindly mention that we all appreciate your efforts very dearly.

Sales Club Competition 2020-2021

Last week, we (Ann-Sophie Rottée and Florence Vandecaveye) had the opportunity to participate in the online edition of the Vlerick Business School Sales Club Competition. In the first round of this sales simulation, we took the role of an account manager at Hilti trying to convince our buyer of the value of their ON!Track product. In the final round, six of us competed against each other with as ultimate goal to close the deal.

We were prepared by the Sales Club through various sales workshops. Additionally, Hilti made time for a Q&A session about the product. During the competition we were pushed to our limits with challenging questions to test our abilities to improvise and stay calm.

It was a great learning experience and it definitely drove the sales skills of all Sales Club members to the next level!

Vlerick Sales Club Competition

We are proud to announce that as a winner (Ann-Sophie Rottée) and runner-up (Florence Vandecaveye) we will represent Vlerick Business School at the European Sales Competition later this year in Finland. We are very much looking forward to this experience!

We would like to thank Wendy Lisarde (Senior Carreer Advisor at Vlerick), Kimberly Pauwels (In-Company Projects Coordinator at Vlerick), Barney Jordaan (Vlerick Professor of Management Practice: Negotiation, Conflict Management, Mediation) and Deva Rangarajan (Associate Professor of Marketing- Miller College of Business, Ball State University) for organizing this great event and the sales workshops which prepared us for the competition. Additionally, thank you to all the Sales Club sponsors who acted as buyers and jurors, and congratulations to all participants for competing and showing the best of yourselves!

We look forward to exploring the world of sales further in the future!

Vlerick Sales Club Competition

Recap: Small Feet, Big Dreams

Thursday, 21 January 2021, 13:09 | Category : charity, Masters in Innovation & Entpreneurship
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My best friend lived in very difficult circumstances during his youth… 💔

But he never gave up, after being in an institution (CKG Don Bosco) for a while, he received the opportunity to go to a foster family. He got inspired by the example from his foster father, who taught him the values of life and to do efforts for school 🏫

The past years, during our University studies, we talked a lot about the past, but also about the future, and what our dreams & goals were 🌅

A few months ago, I started with a charity initiative to support children in those very difficult circumstances! I want to give them an example, and enable them to take small steps in the direction of fulfilling their dreams.

That is the reason why I sell socks for charity!

We sold 800 socks already, but we still have 650 to go.

If you want to know more about it, take a look at the news article (in Dutch) here and order your socks on the website, a warm thanks in advance 😊

To conclude I want to thank ElineAlexanderDriesLaraJoyceKaatGuillaumeIrisVlerick Business SchoolLucyNinaKathleen & Merchandise Essentials for being there along the road, thanks for all your remarkable efforts and making this action a succes 💪🏼
Thijs Devos

Thank you for supporting my cause and buying your pair of socks today (simply scan the QR code below or visit the website):

Thijs Devos (Masters in Innovation & Entrepreneurship)

Nespresso-Vlerick Challenge 2020-2021: One Planet. What else? ☕

Last Friday, I had the opportunity to present a marketing campaign for senior and top management of Nestlé Nespresso in a contest together with my team mates Sara Blocquiaux and Nathan Holzken. It was an incredible experience, with many groups from all Vlerick Business School campuses presenting amazing ideas.

Nespresso-Vlerick Challenge 2020-2021

Furthermore, we are proud to announce that we have been awarded the first place in this contest with our ‘One Planet’ campaign, an incredible way to close off our Marketing Management course.

Lastly, we would like to thank Frank Goedertier (Marketing professor at Vlerick) , Joeri Van den Bergh (Co-Founder & Managing Partner InSites Consulting), Stephane Detaille (Marketing Director at Nespresso Belux), Oliver Perquy (Managing Director at Nestlé Nespresso SA Belgilux), Françoise Baumans (CRM Insights & Marketing Club Communication manager at Nespresso), and Michel Mersch (CEO at Nestlé Belgilux) for this unique opportunity and we look forward to the next challenge.

Nespresso-Vlerick Challenge 2020-2021

Many thanks for all the amazing campaigns we witnessed and congratulations to all participating and winning teams!

Maxime van den Besselaar (Masters in General Management, Leuven)

Nespresso-Vlerick Challenge 2020-2021

Happy holidays and an amazing 2021! ✨

Wednesday, 6 January 2021, 18:29 | Category : Masters
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Looking back on 2020 and looking forward to 2021 filled with new opportunities and possibilties! 💕

Goldstein Brewery Case: Putting our learnings into action (on-campus)

In the last week before the Christmas holidays, we (the MGM students) got served the Goldstein Brewery case. A case in which we had exactly 72 hours to tackle the problems the Goldstein Brewery is facing. 72 hours of hard work, little sleep and lots of bad humor. We were divided into groups of 4 and the end goal was to present a 100 days action plan to the board of directors, that consisted out of Vlerick professors Ann Vereecke and Robert Boute, supported by Koen Cobbaert (Director at PWC) and Koen Van der Taelen (Chief Supply Chain Officer at Duvel Moortgat).

As the title of this blog post reveals: We were again allowed to go to campus to tackle the Goldstein Brewery Case, this of course under strict safety measures. Nevertheless, it was wonderful to spend these 72 hours in the motivating atmosphere of the Vlerick Campus,  sensing the same levels of tension and business at the other teams.

The case started Monday morning with a plenary meeting in our beloved yellow room on Zoom. We received the general objectives of the case and some initial data that could help us to do a first ‘quick and dirty’ data-analysis. The goal of the first day was to identify the major issues at the Goldstein Brewery and to make an action-plan of how we would further quantify these issues. The main financial ratio that we would use to quantify our issues was the ROCE or Return on Capital Employed. The only thing that went on in the heads of an MGM student during those 72 hours was the ROCE. Some of us hung it on their walls, some wrote it on a whiteboard and some even had dreams about it.

The second day was all about using company data to uncover the issues and to quantify the impact on the ROCE. To help us with the data-analysis, we were supported by a tool that was designed by PWC, namely Equazion. At 9 am, when we got access to tool, the race against the clock began. The following 48 hours were filled with Excel sheets, bad jokes, burnouts, stressful moments and lots of Deliveroo (because of course, we did not had the time to prepare food ourselves).

On Thursday 3 am (5.5 hours before the deadline), the MGM-Ghent group chat was still on fire. Most of the groups were finetuning their presentations, while the deadline came closer and closer. By the time most groups finished and got to bed, there was not a lot of room left for sleep.  That morning, fueled by coffee and adrenaline, everybody delivered a great presentation. At noon the Goldstein Brewery case was closed by a plenary debrief. The jury members were impressed by the level of professionality of our presentations and the quality of the analyses! Four groups out of twenty-two were elected as winners, and will receive a nice prize from Duvel Moortgat.

We’re sure that this case was the icing on the cake of our first semester. We were challenged to perform under significant time pressure, while putting everything we have learnt so far into action. Right now, we all need to reload our minds and take a small break from Vlerick. Sadly enough, going on a little trip is not possible this year, but the lovely Belgium will certainly do for now!

 

We’re looking forward to more on-campus moments in 2021!

Wishing you a happy, healthy & satisfactory new year!

 

Bart & Delphine

Master students charity fundraiser: Small feet, BIG dreams

Monday, 7 December 2020, 15:14 | Category : Uncategorized
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Keep your feet warm and support children in need with a pair of Vlerick socks

Hereby it’s official: we have started an action to sell as many socks as possible for the good cause: Ckg Don Bosco

It would be great if you support this action by buying socks 🧦 and sharing the project with family, friends and colleagues.
It’s almost Christmas 🎄 & who knows, these socks might be a nice present 🎁.

For more information you can visit the website or simply scan the QR code 🌐

A Warm Thank you 🙏🏼

#charity #Christmas #presents

Special Thanks to Merchandise Essentials for creating these cool socks & Vlerick Business School for supporting this initiative ✨

#VlerickSpirit in COVID times

Tuesday, 1 December 2020, 17:52 | Category : Masters
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In October the second COVID wave hit us all… on-campus classes were no possibility anymore, we had to shift to online in a blink of an eye! Problematic you would say? Not for Vlerick students, current times ask you to be flexible and being able to adapt. The #VlerickSpirit plays an important role in our persistence to make this an incredible year and fully exploit the learning journey!

(Un)Lucky Friday 13th

Networking events with companies, (international) alumni are continuing in a virtual format. Thanks to the Vlerick network, many alumni and companies are eager to organize “Vlerick exclusive” events to enhance the networking capabilities. Whether your interest is in consulting, fast moving consumer goods, private equity, or any other industry, the possibilities to connect and share are endless. Fact: did you know that each programme has their own dedicated career advisor who is there to assist you in your job-hunting process?

 Work hard, play hard, right? Even at Vlerick we need to blow off steam from time to time, in the MIMS group we have an array of ambassadors who organize amazing events, such as:

  • Weekly workout sessions
  • (Un)Lucky Friday the 13th
  • Mash up event with last year’s MIMS class

Additionally, our international ambassadors have created language groups, where we in small groups, teach each other a new language! Eager to find out how a year at Vlerick looks like? Keep an eye on the blog and our social media (Instagram & Facebook)!

MDT Radio

Thursday, 12 November 2020, 7:57 | Category : Event, Masters, Masters in Marketing and Digital Transformation
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We’re not going to lie to you, it has been a challenging year so far. Given the current COVID measures and lockdown 2.0 it has been very difficult to stay connected to each other. However, we tried our best to keep in touch and organised some fun Zoom evenings. One concept that two fellow MDT-members, Henri Wuyts and Vincent Meyers, came up with is called MDT Radio. The concept consists of planned Zoom evenings that include fun and personalised quizzes, DJ sets, and talks about mental awareness. But who can better explain this concept than the creators themselves?

 

How would you describe the concept of MDT Radio?

H: I call the project MDT Radio because it represents the catch-up conversations on the one hand, and the dancing on the other hand. I felt the urge myself to connect more with my friends from school, so I facilitated that need. The responses of the class are so heartwarming and energising to plan future episodes. When I prepare an episode, I call my friend Vincent. If we have fun making the next episode, we already feel that a great night is around the corner.

V: MDT radio is a concept created at the beginning of the second lockdown. Now that we can no longer see each other on campus or in a cafe, Henri had the idea of starting his own radio show. The concept is actually very simple. We meet each other virtually via Zoom where we first check with everyone how they feel and how they are doing. Then, a fun activity is added. This can vary from a short game round to a quiz. Finally, there is a short DJ set by Henri Wuyts. It is heartwarming to see all the positive reactions from the group. Everyone has a need to keep seeing each other and not feeling alone. And if we can help the group in this, we are happy to do so.

 

What type of planning and organizing goes into these events?

H: I attach a lot of importance to the fact that all participants are heard and have had an interactive moment in the show. I prepare a bowl with all names and then randomly ask a friend of class to tell us something about their day, how they are dealing with the lockdown or (most importantly) who they want to share a drink with. Then there is also a gamification included to get the dopamine levelled again. Last episode, Emilia and Aurélien took over the mic and organised an awesome quiz.

V: The preparations for these shows usually take a few hours. It is mainly about coming up with a theme and concept and then giving it a creative interpretation. The best part is working around a theme. As the last episode was in the theme of Halloween. This is the most fun because then you can easily create a storyline through the show. For us it is important that the episodes do not last too long. Due to the fact that we have been sitting behind our computer screen all day, it is important not to make our episodes too long. It is mainly meant to enjoy a virtual evening with each other. In the end you get a lot of positive reactions and you see that everyone is happy then it has been really rewarding the preparation.

 

What is your favorite part of MDT Radio?

H: I feel the class needs a dancing from time to time. I enjoyed playing some music for class so much and see them sing along with guilty pleasure music. I hope MDT Radio will have a physical episode really soon. But until then we go live from our studio.

V: My favorite part of MDT radio is dancing to today’s latest music. It’s great to dance together with the group and see how everyone shows their best moves behind the camera. It’s great to belong in such a group where everyone cares about each other and everyone is trying to make the best of it. It is a fantastic group with which we hope it will soon be possible to organize the MDT radio sessions offline. Then I can assure you one thing: “The roof will go off”.

 

Thank you for your time guys! We applaud you for making these next months a bit less challenging.

Below you can find some atmospheric images from previous MDT Radio sessions.