Apollo 2013 graduated last Friday (July 5th). Congrats to everyone and many thanks to all of you who supported us!

Some more news

It was a quiet and rainy month on May, here in Leuven. However several news are worth to be mentioned …

First the FT Executive Education rankings were out. Vlerick Business School is now #43 (up from #45 a year ago) in the customised report (the only Belgian school ranked if we except the CCL that just has a campus here). It is #41 (same as last year) in the open report (before Solay BS: #60). And everyone is happy! :-)

Then most of us defended their project – and from what I heard it was quite a successful year. Congrats for those who passed and good luck for those who will present soon!

And now Apollo students are busy with the IMEX business game. I already wrote about it earlier (here, here and here). This year we have four teams:

  1. Sky Whirlies, also on Facebook and on YouTube (and another video here)
  2. What’s up, also on Facebook
  3. ROB-O-Toy on Facebook and on Twitter
  4. TenSai Toys, aslo on Facebook and on Twitter

Visit their web/Facebook/Twitter pages and support them! More on the game in a coming post … ;-)

And last but not least, congratulations to Fabian Frola and Mark Willems for their participation in the 20km of Brussels. Both ran faster than Prince Philippe (respectively 1h35, 1h39 and 1h55).

Btw here is my certificate for 2013 ;-)

Even an MBA can do it!

If you have 5 minutes to procrastinate before the Decision Sciences exam, here are two videos for you:




This is the end (1 of x)

It is with some emotion that I announce you The End. Not yet the end of the MBA. But today was the last class of the last course (Decision Sciences for Business). So I want to take the opportunity to put some light on a commodity object that was the most used object during these two years: the red Douwe-Egberts cup for coffee or tea! They were able to keep us awake for some of the boring classes and kept us involved in the most interesting classes too ;-)


Note the chocolate Easter eggs filling it: thanks Neuhaus and thanks Vesna for providing such excellent chocolate! :-p

One case – one exam (IT)

130419-alcanOn Thursday we took our penultimate exam, Value-Added Entreprise IT. Surprisingly there was only one question: “Solve the case” ;-) No, seriously there were 4 sub-questions to help us suggest a solution for the case. But the surprise was (IMHO – YMMV) that there was only one (big) case to solve: Alcan, taking on the challenge of IT management in a global business context. It’s a classical HBR case (there is also an Alcan case about environment issues for those who remember CSR/EHS). For those interested here is a presentation by Cihad Acar and some solutions from the Fox School of Business.

Since I unfortunately couldn’t attend many classes I was happy to see that readings could bring some ideas to answer the case and that I shouldn’t be too far from The Truth ;-) One thing that I was wondering is what is (or was) the general business strategy of Alcan at that time. In his class Prof. Viaene stressed that the (Corporate) Strategic Context should drive the IT/IS Strategy. I missed the global strategic context in the (part of the) case we received for the exam. I could see that some of the business division didn’t necessarily made sense (except if you need a conglomerate or a highly vertically integrated company): packaging for instance. Splitting the company would see efforts focused on core values (and the IT Strategy would follow and would have been easier to implement).

Now when you read the Wikipedia page of Alcan, you realise Rio Tinto acquired Alcan Inc. in 2007 (one year after the case) in a US$38 billion deal. But soon after it decided to sell its Engineered Products and Packaging business groups (something that was ultimately done 2 years ago, in 2011). This lead me to another question: we learned best practises for IT governance when dealing with the result of an acquisition (or a very anarchic organisation) – what about best practises for IT governance when dealing with a split? If Robert Ouellette succeeded in implementing an ERP system in the Engineerd Products division before 2011, how would the new IT organisation cope with this existing, heavyweight ERP after being sold to Apollo (sic) Global Management for instance? A quick thought tells me that they could keep the benefits of an integrated communication system offered by the ERP in place (without the sunk costs of implementation), being then a small piece in a bigger puzzle and needing to communicate with 3rd parties now outside their company.

Btw if you look at the management of Rio Tinto Alcan, the CFO is still responsible for IS&T, the person responsible for IT still holds a VP position but it’s not Robert Ouellette anymore (although he really exists but works now elsewhere) ;-)

Photo credit: Stan O’Neill (holding paddle) and Elmer Burley (guiding ingot into furnace), two firemen in the Remelt department, feed ingots to the re-melting furnace at the Aluminum Company of Canada by Library and Archives Canada (licence CC-by)

Here comes another Vlerick FTMBA student in the press …

retirement-bag-dollarsAmong the nearly 200 participants in the BusinessBecause When I Retire competition Vlad Damian, a Vlerick FTMBA, shared his vision of his world at retirement time, how he thinks the world will have changed at that time. It starts with …

By 2060 my grandchildren will ask me to explain what an email is and how it was used.

And I let you read the full post here. The story is nicely written (the challenge said no more than 300 words) and touches on communication bio-IT, merging two promising fields: biotechnology and IT. Vlad made it to the final, great!

It reminded the Enjoy Change campaign Vlerick started at the same time as its rebranding – without gifts ;-) But more importantly I was wondering how to apply all these nice idea, from a company perspective … All these ideas are fine but is it really how to create value with IT? What would be the strategic alignment of such products? What about the required IT infrastructure? What would be the role of the CIO in such organisation, his/her role in relation with the CSO (Chief Scientific Officer Ⓡ TM)? How would this IT portfolio be presented? And even if Vlad started mentioning it already, how would IT security and potential crisis be managed? As you can see I started to revise for the Value Added Entreprise IT course ;-)

Anyway, congratulations, Vlad!

(You can also find Vlad on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
Photo credits: Retirement by 401(K) 2013 on Flickr (licence CC-by-sa)

Dilbert and MBA speak ;-)

I can’t resist re-posting this Dilbert strip …


Do you want more? How to Speak Like a Business School Grad? Bullshit Bingo!

Some craftwork at Vlerick

Sometimes EMBA classes at Vlerick can take an unexpected turn and we end up creating something with our hands instead of tinkering with Excel, a calculator or simply our brain (it happens … sometimes). Last week Kosta Perric came as guest speaker for the course of Value-Added Entreprise IT. Kosta Perric is working at SWIFT and co-founded of Innotribe but is also a contributor to and an avid user of web 2.0 (Twitter, Google+, blog, etc.). As nearly all people working in and around innovation I’ve seen so far, Kosta Perric uses a Mac for his presentations ;-)

As I mentioned earlier he explained the innovation process and specificities at SWIFT/Innotribe with the castle and sandbox metaphor, something a bit similar to open innovation or Jef Staes’ red monkey (also seen previously here). If you are interested here is a very short summary of the presentation or watch the video below on the creation and purpose of Innotribe (the Innotribe channel on YouTube is also very nice to follow).

By the way, Kosta very briefly mentioned it but the metaphor is also the title of his book, The Castle and the Sandbox (sic) (but, unlike Jan Vermeiren, Kosta did not bring a free copy for each of us). Kosta’s blog has also a summary of the book.

And that’s when craftwork happened. On the second part of his talk, Kosta Peric asked us to work a little bit and, given a box of very fancy material, asked us to build what we thought was the castle and the sandbox. The message is simple, repeated several times and made ours by translating it into concrete craftwork … The methodology of knowledge transmission was also part of the learnings. Here are some pictures …

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ok, I also have a video of somebody we discovered has storytelling talents but here I will only share the official workshop video :-)

See you soon for new adventures!

Yet another PTMBA student in the press!

It is always a pleasure to read or watch news about PTMBA students in the press (recap of the latest so far: Bart, Peter, Sam and Tom here ; Danny here). Earlier this week it was Katrien Kimpe’s turn to be in the limelight. As coordinator of Flanders’Care it was unavoidable to end up in the press (for a good cause, of course) :-) Katrien was featured in De Standaard and Het Nieuwsblad.

Katrien Kimpe - Flanders Care

From the papers you can capture some key MBA words like “platform”, “innovation”, “stakeholders” (ok, my own translation of “partijen”), “leverage” (I learned a new work in Dutch: “hefboomeffect” – thanks!), “process”, etc. ;-) Teasing is easy but I think Flanders’Care is doing a very good job at making connections in the healthcare sector (alas, they can only operate in Flanders) and trying to address the challenges of an ageing Europe: chronic diseases and elderly care will indeed become more and more important health issues. You can have another glimpse at what Katrien is doing in one of her recent presentations (there are plenty of links to interesting videos on slide 12). Proficiat, Katrien!

Book review: BRICS and beyond, executive lessons on emerging markets

A few months ago I was surprised and pleased at the same time to receive a complimentary book from Wiley in my mailbox. I was wondering why – maybe because this blog is meant for MBA students (something mentioned on the back cover) and I wrote many posts about BRICS countries? Well actually it was the result of a participation to a monthly competition at Business Because – so you too you can participate and win! And thanks, Business Because, for the very interesting book!

130224-BRICS-bookHere are the technical details about the book: “BRICS and BEYOND” by Stephanie Jones, Wiley 2012, ISBN 978-1-119-96269-4 (also available as e-book). Dr Stephanie Jones is Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at Maastricht School of Management. She lived and worked around the world (Hong Kong, China, India, Australia, Dubai and Kuwait according to her bio) and has therefore a good background to write this book. The first thing that strikes with this book is its cover: it basically states that every step of a product life cycle is now happening outside the US or the EU (except consumption perhaps).

The Vlerick Business School curriculum is not really focused on BRICS (nor emerging markets). However the full-time MBA has lots of participants coming from these countries. And even in the executive MBA (with mainly Belgians), there is (in my opinion) a certain interest in these countries (it is sufficient to mention that the study trip to China is fully booked in a few minutes …). And Western MBA students are clearly the target population of this book.

The structure of the book is somewhat classical. There are tree main parts: risks, opportunities and practise. You will be able to make links with – or more appropriately: make extensions of – several classes taught at Vlerick (and in all MBAs): CSR, marketing, entrepreneurship, innovation, strategy, operations, etc. But don’t expect to find any 2-by-2 matrices: this book is more about learning from experience than applying glossy frameworks.

This brings me to what I liked in this book: you have many ways to read it …

  • You can read the second cover and you will have very quickly 8 “must-know” sentences.
  • You can read “Executive Lessons” at the end of each chapter and you know a bit more.
  • Or you can just read one chapter you fancy at a time, on a specific topic – and there you go.
  • (and of course you can take some time and read it from the first page to the last one).

Something I also appreciated in the book is to have many practical “mini cases” (called “brief worked examples”). They illustrate each of the lessons detailes in the previous chapter. Very often MBA textbooks explain theory and concepts in great details but fail to deliver very practical examples you can relate to in your everyday life. Not here. This is again another illustration of the power of storytelling.

Some regrets? Although corruption and bribery is covered, there is nothing about regular finance and accounting. The topic is obviously very technical and vary in each emerging market. But you better know it before. And the author may have struggled to give a balance in the different countries to discuss. China and India indeed occupy the majority of examples. This is obviously normal as they enjoy great economic powers and a large part of the world population. However BRICS and emerging markets deal with other countries too. Most of these other countries are cited in one or several examples here and there – but at the end of the book the reader should expect to know more on India and China than Congo or Brazil for instance.

In a nutshell? “BRICS and Beyond” is a book you will enjoy reading if you are interested in emerging markets. It will give you an interesting introduction as well as key points to focus on when doing business there. And it will be complemented by more specialised reading (e.g. targeting a country or a topic specifically) but more importantly by your own experience!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 316 other followers

%d bloggers like this: