Lockdown update: How I managed both work & postgrad studies from home in Belgium

This is the story of Namit Arora, a Masters in Marketing and Digital Transformation student at Vlerick Business School, in Belgium, who is studying and completing an in-company project from home. 

My passion for marketing, motivation to build a future in the heart of Europe, and aspiration to study in one of the best European Universities convinced me to pack my bags and embark upon the journey from New Delhi to Vlerick Business School in Belgium in 2019.

In the second week of March 2020, after seven months of rigorous classes, real-life projects, and priceless memories, we were working in groups towards our final project for L’Oréal when the news about the Coronavirus in Europe became the headline everywhere. Within the next two days, Vlerick responded quickly to the changing scenario and shifted the remaining classes online, including the final presentations and the competition. With the situation changing rapidly, I was constantly supported by my Belgian friends as they kept me updated about latest government decisions and rules. In addition to that, the International office of Vlerick Business School promptly provided the students with all the necessary information such as current lockdown rules and the weblinks to follow news updates.

My time during this lockdown has been unique. Sharing the apartment with another Indian from the same university has been instrumental in not just killing boredom but also accepting numerous lockdown challenges, like the Dalgona Coffee challenge. The lockdown followed an intense period of seven months of classes where I was spending more or less 16 hours every day at the University, followed by three weeks of travelling in Ireland and France. Thus, the first two weeks of the lockdown gave me the much needed time for rejuvenation and relaxation.

Later, in the second week, our In-Company-Project started for UCB Pharmaceuticals – the company for which I am working virtually right now. Working during the day has kept me busy, and on my toes, even during the lockdown. The two hours of travelling time that I saved due to virtual internship have been invested in developing new skills that will be in demand after COVID-19. The only professional issue I have faced has been managing my long hair during formal meetings!

Completing a work project, studying for a Masters degree and responding to the Dalgona Coffee Challenge that took the internet by storm – how Namit Arora kept himself busy during lockdown in Belgium.

Gradually, things are starting to become better, and the Belgian government has started to lift the lockdown in phases, which has made it possible for me to see my friends, keeping in mind the social distancing norms. It is imperative to mention that we were constantly in touch with Vlerick via its digital platform and were even offered the possibility of talking to a psychologist in case we were feeling low due to the lockdown.

Today, I am allowed to go out, shop, and even take a small trip in Belgium whereas India is still in lockdown. Thinking of it now, I believe it was a rational decision to stay in Belgium, rather than packing my bags and leaving in panic. I believe it was my ability to keep multiple things on the table and take a calculated decision that helped me weather the storm thus far.

For other students planning to make a future abroad, I would suggest taking a holistic view, keeping all the variables in mind, and then making a decision. There is no one advice that fits all, so avoid listening to negative recession news and rather critically evaluate which industries will thrive after the crisis and plan things accordingly. There is no bad time to learn and grow.

Author: Namit Arora, current Masters in Marketing & Digital Transformation student at Vlerick Business School

7 Highlights From Dublin’s Tech Scenario

After a week of visits in the leading tech companies in Dublin’s Silicon Docks, here are some of my personal highlights.

The idea of Dublin becoming the Silicon Valley of Europe seems to be on its tracks. Hosting the European headquarters of all the main tech companies in the world, Dublin looks like an interesting scenario for talents looking for growth.

Last week, along my Vlerick Business School colleagues, I had the opportunity to visit some of these companies and talk with some of these talents. Here are some of the highlights I could learn from them:

1. Storytelling

As part of our first company visit, Oracle, we had the opportunity to learn more about their products and services through a storytelling/role playing demonstration. Not only it was one of the most different approaches I’ve seen to explaining what a company does, it was a way to make it one of the most memorable presentations from the whole week. A powerful tool to make your presentations stand out.

2. “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”

As said by the consultant and writer Peter Drucker, Culture expresses goals through values and benefits. Part of Microsoft’s mindset, Culture was clearly one of the most mentioned terms from all of the visited companies and seems to be what makes the difference in the end. If the culture is a good fit for you, go for it! Otherwise, you may avoid it!

3. Customer Centrism and Effective Questioning

Impact is a buzzword for a reason. Having your customer in the center, care about what they are doing and aiming to have an impact on their lives seems to be another common goal of all the visited companies. In order to achieve that, one of the followed strategies is effective questioning. Are you sure you’re using the right questions? Are you sure your customer understands what you’re asking? Are you sure you’re focusing on the solution and not on the problem?

4. Test New Things and Play

Innovation comes with a risk, if you don’t try it, you don’t evolve. All the visited companies seemed to have the mindset of trying and learning from its accomplishments and failures. Daring to play, making mistakes and testing new things is what makes those companies what they are.

5. Multicultural and Diverse

Dublin is a multicultural city and this is reflected on every company’s offices. The minimum amount of nationalities of the visited offices was 70, which in my opinion, is already a significant number. As well written by Frans Johansson, the Medici Effect is what occurs in the intersection of multiple fields, disciplines and cultures, combining existing concepts and creating innovative ideas. Dublin and all those companies benefits from that.

6. “Move Fast and Be Bold”

Quoting one of Facebook’s core values, it is important to do, test and learn the most you can in the shortest amount of time possible. That’s not a reason not to be bold, but bending the rules and “hacking” systems is what drives innovation and transforms companies.

7. Most of all, Be Passionate

Passion was the key element that all the employees had for their companies and positions. As one of Microsoft’s values states, “come as you are and do what you love”.

Having the opportunity to visit companies such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft is an one of a kind experience. I’m sure there’s much more to come and learn, as Dublin increasingly becomes the innovation hub of Europe.

What other lessons can we learn from the tech world?

#Dublin #Tech #Innovation #SiliconDocks

Written by José Vitor Corrêa

Luckily for us our students also captured their Dublin trip experience. Watch the videos they’ve made and discover their insights into this amazing city and its companies!

DUBLIN TRIP: Vlerick is on the case at Microsoft’s Dublin Campus

Wednesday, 4 March 2020, 17:52 | Category : Company Visit, Dublin Trip, Masters, Masters in Marketing and Digital Transformation
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Microsoft VisitOn the last day of our Dublin trip we had the chance to visit Microsoft at their Dublin campus located in Leopardstown, half an hour south of Dublin. This €134m state of the art building inaugurated in 2018 offers over 34,000 square metres and is the home to over 2,000 employees. The Dublin division has more than 100 different nationalities which is representative of Microsoft’s pledge for diversity. All sectors can be found within the campus; engineers, operations or digital sales and human resources making this location central to the company’s European activities.

Microsoft VisitWe were welcome to the company and introduced to Microsoft’s mission established by their CEO Satya Nadella in 2014; empowering every individual and organisation on the planet to achieve more. This mission is not limited to their clients; the DreamSpace is a space on the campus where Microsoft welcomes schools and allows them to interact with various new technologies. This endeavour is an example of Microsoft empowering and interesting the younger generations in technology. We were then toured around the lavish building, a marvel combining design and technology. The notable “digital waterfall” at the centre of the building, is an example of this. Spanning over four floors, it integrates seamlessly in its environment and provides a pleasant sight from all offices and restaurants.

Microsoft VisitFollowing the office tour, we were introduced to an energizing business case that revolved around the use of Microsoft technology to digitally transform coffee chains. 5 teams scribbled down their ideas by taking inspiration from the knowledge gained in last 6 months. For instance, One of the teams reflected back on the teachings of Mr. Frank Goedertier during the Managing Customer Experience & Technology Trends course and pitched the idea of using the services of Microsoft Teams and Azure to let customer choose his favourite Barista and even give him the possibility to create his own mixture using cloud service of Azure. Two relevant Microsoft employees gave constructive feedback on the ideas and were impressed by the quality and diversity of the ideas that were pitched in just one minute.

This visit enabled each Vlerick student to experience and understand better the three key elements that drive such a big company.
1. A passion to evolve
2. A passion for people
3. A passion for employees

The visit also gave us a valuable insight into how such an important company upholds certain values through digital technology, which lies at the heart of our master degree. At the end of our visit, smile on our faces, glitter in our eyes, each Vlerick student was mesmerized by the experience and look forwards towards the window of opportunities at Microsoft.

DUBLIN TRIP: A sneak peek into Google’s world

Google VisitSince Google opened its European Headquarters in Dublin in 2003, the number of employees has grown from five to over eight-thousand. It now hosts 70 nationalities and 75 languages spoken, serving over 100 markets. Nevertheless, one of the first things you notice when entering a building is the familiarity between the employees. Team-spirit, accompanied by kind smiles, mark the relationship between on their work floor. Do growing companies need to construct physical bridges between offices, or is there more to Google’s close-knit communities within their mass-employment?

  1. Google VisitBlend formal and informal learning
    Graduates get acquainted with frameworks to discover the needs of Google customers. As Vlerick students, we reviewed frameworks similar to those we saw in our Digital Advertising classes. We were also introduced to Google’s Consultation Sales 7 steps that Account Strategists follow when addressing the needs of their customers. Apart from this, teams are formed by a mix between “nooglers” (new hires) and more seasoned employees. As Master students in Vlerick, we can truly confirm that many skills can be learned by doing group works.
  2. Come as you go
    Google takes a leap of confidence by allowing its employees to have flexible working hours and giving people full autonomy in how they handle their work and their way towards achieving their goals. But, more importantly, Google provides employees with tools to relax and express themselves. In-company gyms are not ground-breaking, but have you ever seen an indoor pool or fully equipped music room? Google sets the bar high for companies, allowing its employees to perform to the best of their abilities.
  3. Look for character, not for skills
    In the broad, dynamic and fast-paced competitive landscape in which Google operates, enthusiasm, pro-activity and customer-centricity are the most valued skills. People from all walks of life come together at Google’s offices to work towards a mutual goal which trumps departments or nationalities.

Google VisitWe can certainly say that Google is a company that allows its people to live, learn and leap, providing them with all the tools, opportunities and freedom to perform at work and enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done at the end of the day, with small gatherings and events across the week.

As Master in Marketing & Digital Transformation students, we were thrilled to see how the big tech companies that shape the digital marketing industry work. No doubt that this trip has changed the way we perceive the advertising industry, and filled us with confidence to make the next big leap into the job market.

DUBLIN TRIP: MDT Masters students explore the Facebook EMEA headquarters

Facebook company visit Did you know that 80% of Instagram users follow a brand? Neither did we, until we learned all about the importance of Facebook and Instagram for businesses around the world. Especially for medium sized companies, Facebook can really boost the growth of their business. With this in mind, it is no surprise that their mission statement is to: “Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”
The three lessons we learned from Facebook are the following.

Innovation is key to keep up with the fast-changing technology driven environment.
The number of active users on Facebook and Instagram is still increasing exponentially over time. Currently there are 2.49 billion Facebook and 1 billion Instagram users worldwide every month. Based on this, we can gage the importance of social media marketing in connecting with your customers. In order to keep growing, Facebook needs to continue innovating their products and services to stay relevant.

Facebook company visitAlways keep in mind the creative considerations in making the best out of your Instagram campaign.

There are 4 main guidelines to follow when promoting your brand on Instagram.

  1. Have a clear message and focus that you want to convey to your customer.
  2. Make your brand visible within the first 3 seconds to ensure brand recognition.
  3. Hero your product by putting it in the front and centre of stories and posts.
  4. Play more and engage with your customers via interactive content.

They base themselves around their 5 values, which gives important insight on Facebook’s culture and work ethic.
The 5 values that lie at the heart of the company are building social value, move fast, be bold, be open, and focus on the impact. These values were very much reflected on the success stories of current employees. Besides this we also received valuable information on what they’re looking for in an ideal applicant and how this all fits with living in Dublin.

Overall, this interactive and energetic company visit is very applicable to the content of our courses, especially digital advertising and the digital marketing campaign. We will apply our learnings moving forward in our future careers.

Facebook company visit

Take a look at the video of our Facebook company visit:

DUBLIN TRIP – HubSpot: where tech and sales come together!

Hubspot company visitOn the second day of the trip to Dublin, our Marketing and Digital Transformation students visited HubSpot; the fast-growing scale-up. The day started by having a tour around the office. This was followed by a presentation about what the company does and how it operates. There was then a demonstration of the platform. But it didn’t stop there! The company representatives guided the students on possible career opportunities and left room for further questions through an informative round table.

Hubspot company visitWe started our visit at HubSpot with a guided office tour! It became immediately clear that they were cozy, a lot of light and dynamic. As it was lunch time not a lot of employees were at their desk, but we could see some nicely decorated ones: action figures at IT, the tiki Hawaiians bar at sales or just desks decorated with inspiring quotes to keep you going throughout the day. We came across the library that directly had a feeling of being at home, break-outs room where you could work more in silence or they even have a nap room! It is true what they say: company culture is everything and we directly felt we would fit in! They also reimburse your tuition, have a free book program and employee resource groups.

An interesting key takeaway is how inbound marketing has changed due to digitalization. HubSpot fully captures this change in marketing and focuses on Attracting the visitors then Delighting the customers and Engage the customers. This to create inbound value. This new way of looking at inbound marketing is important to understand and to capture customers in a digital age. To Attract potential visitors in a digital age digital advertising is being used. To Engage means trying to create leads out of visitors and make them customers. Delighting the customers means to create promotors. To make sure that your customers become actual promotors of your business. The change in inbound marketing in this digital age is very important and it is interesting how HubSpot is able to use their products to help companies capture this new way of inbound marketing.

Hubspot company visitSince HubSpot is rapidly growing and seizing every opportunity they get, the company is continuously hiring. The tech scale-up has great internships and full-time  graduate positions in different fields. For Marketing & Digital Transformation students they offer graduate roles in Sales, Customer Support and Product & Engineering. We had the opportunity to talk with employees in different roles and with different experience levels. They were very open in sharing their journey, success stories and challenges they face on a daily basis. The HubSpot employees also gave us a clear view on relocating to Dublin and life in Ireland. Lastly, we went over the different stages of the application process and how to optimize our chances.
HubSpot’s most important asset are the people! You work together with people who are as motivated and devoted as you are!


DUBLIN TRIP – Oracle: The most underrated revolutionary tech giant

On Tuesday the 18th of February we visited the first tech company on the Masters in Marketing & Digital Transformation Dublin trip: Oracle.

Dublin Trip Oracle Company visit

Oracle is an American tech company specialized in database software, cloud engineering and enterprise software products. Oracle operates in a B2B environment and is by consequence less known to the broad public. With a revenue of about $40 billion, they are one of the biggest players in the market. They take much pride in the fact that they are able to integrate all the different departments of their clients. Sales, marketing, operations, finance, IT and customer service, Oracle offers services for each of these departments, enforcing the synergy between them in order to give their clients the best integration possible. We can in fact say, that this is their unique selling proposition.

1. The art of Storytelling

Dublin Trip Oracle Company visitOracle is a well-known name in the B2B industry, however, on a consumer level, not many people are familiar with what exactly they do. In order to familiarize us with the company, we learned about the art of storytelling and the way it can be practically used in many situations, even in the professional ones where you least expect it. For the presentation of Oracle’s offering, an enthusiastic speaker engaged the audience by creating a story which started with introducing how an everyday company can encounter problems with integration between departments and how Oracle solves this issue. In order for us to understand their operations and offering better, volunteers helped out to put everything into context. This presentation was very informative, because we got to see how the art of storytelling has risen in importance and how one of the biggest tech companies helps their clients with integration between all departments.

2. “You can be anything you want to be”

In the second part of the visit, we had the pleasure to learn about the experiences of multiple Oracle employees who are very passionate about the company and eager to share their knowledge with us. It was particularly great to see a Vlerick alumni at the panel who was one of the speakers on that day, but was just a student in the same classrooms as us a few years ago. His story was of great inspiration to use, because we got to see that it is possible to work for one of the big tech companies and progress further up the ladder very quickly if you are devoted to your work. As his manager, pointed out, everyone has the potential to be anything you want to be with the right attitude and it is not really about being the smartest, but having the right growth mindset.


The first company visit of this trip was very informative and inspirational for all students. We found out more about a company that the majority of the public does not know exists. Oracle put a lot of emphasis on storytelling and sales in their presentation, because in their HQ in Dublin sales is their major department. Furthermore, the testimonials of some alumni showed that Oracle offers multiple great career opportunities for young graduates and that they have a great culture that helps the company as well as their employees to grow constantly. We would like to thank Oracle for this great opportunity.

MDT Update – Digital Marketing Campaign

Thursday, 13 February 2020, 22:46 | Category : Masters, Masters in Marketing Management, Vlerick Experience
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As part of the concluding assignments for MDT, before the In Company Projects, during the last weeks of January we presented our Digital Marketing Campaigns. The whole project took 3 months to complete and its clear that both the students and clients, mainly startups and small businesses, are happy with the results.

The assignments were real life cases, with real companies looking for digital consultants. MDT students applied the recently acquired digital knowledge and were able to help and develop the digital strategy for over 10 companies. The strategy included Facebook sponsored posts, Google Ads, LinkedIn ads, SEO audit and even the production of videos to be used over their different platforms.

What’s the best way to learn if not practicing it, right? MDT was able to bring real results to real companies!

Next week the class will go to our Digital Marketing trip, in Dublin, in order to see the companies behind all of this and its clear that we can’t wait to see the behind the scenes.

Check one of the videos created below:

José Vitor (Joe) Corrêa (Masters in Marketing and Digital Transformation – Gent campus)

MIMS European Strategy Trip

Monday, 27 January 2020, 12:32 | Category : Masters
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Last week the MIMS group went on the first European Strategy trip. Early Monday morning we left by bus to visit Eindhoven, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Darmstadt and Luxemburg in only 5 days. We were all prepared to visit some very interesting companies, network with the people there and have an amazing time with our class.

In Eindhoven we visited Signify, a leader in lighting technology. We were all amazed about how lighting can influence our moods, work efficiency and consumer behavior. Palo Alto Networks was the first company we visited in Am sterdam, a cyber security company. For most, cyber security is something they are not familiar with. But I am sure, whether we want to work in a company like this or not, we got some very interesting and useful information to protect us against cybercrime.

Next on the list was Kraft Heinz, which we visited after a short (but fun)
night in Amsterdam. Luckily some delicious cakes were waiting for us for the ones that had a little headache from the night before. We were welcomed by the Sales Director for Belgium, Nike Van Landeghem, a Vlerick Alumni. We had the privilege to listen to some great presentations and got information about their EMEA trainee program. Before leaving for a long ride to Frankfurt we had the opportunity to explore Amsterdam.


The next day we left Frankfurt to go visit Merck in Darmstadt. Merck is specialized in Healthcare, Life Sciences and Performance Materials. We had a small bus tour around the grounds and were amazed by its size – it was a village on itself. During lunch we had the opportunity to network with some of its current employees and management trainees. Lunch was also impressive, it was located in an architectural unique building, there were endless buffets and the food was amazing. In the afternoon we went to Lufthansa, where the MIMS students presented their groupworks for sustainability to Lufthansa. We had a tour in the crew area, which was a very cool experience. After this long day we went to a typical German restaurant together with some people of Lufthansa. The food was great – the most amazing Schnitzels, Bratwurst or for the vegetarians Kasespatzle. After a typical German Restaurant, the MIMS group went to a local German bar to round off a tiring but amazing day.



The following morning, we left for Luxemburg to visit the European Investment Bank, after this we had some time to explore the City. The next and final day the MIMS students presented to Amazon. Vlerick alumnus at Amazon gave a detailed introduction of Amazon and their current work, after which the HR showed the application process. Finally, we went to Pwc, where we had some information about audit and consulting jobs. After tis tiring but learning and most of all fun week it was time to head back to our home campus – Brussels.

MFM at AXA – SOFIA Business Simulation Game

Friday, 22 November 2019, 15:16 | Category : Business Game, Masters in Financial Management
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The 3rd week of November for the Masters in Financial Management was challenging and fun. Vlerick in partnership with AXA Belgium arranged a business simulation game. We were in teams of 5-6 with 3-4 Vlerick students and 1-2 AXA employees. The collaboration of experienced with fresh minds was so much fun, with ideas heating up the decision rounds, as one team had to have the highest share price to win the challenge. We had 2 professors of Vlerick guiding us along the decisions, which ranged from fixing marketing budgets, premium pricing, reinsurance amounts to dividend payout. There were two groups operating in 2 different countries, and each group had a winner. Overall, it was a wonderful learning experience of the insurance industry and business. We might have some MFM students who are considering to start their own insurance business :))

“KNOW YOU CAN” – We have survived yet another hectic week.


Anupriya Muppala Sai (Masters in Financial Management – Brussels campus)