Penultimate admissions and iPads

The academic year might be over, we might be on holidays and/or just graduated but Vlerick is not yet asleep! Yesterday (July 10th) was one of the last on-campus admission day. Things will be quiet until August 28th (the last admission day, also in Ghent). At least two people admitted are tweeting and blogging …

Twitter celebration - Vlerick admission day

Bob van der Vleuten (@bobvdv) is blogging at http://bobvandervleuten.com/ (in Dutch only). He’s apparently involved in many different organisations, most notably TEDxUHasselt. Christian Remon (@ChristianRemon) is blogging at http://iheartcommunications.wordpress.com/. He’s involved in less organisations than Bob but is very interested in communication too … Hope they will start blogging about their life at Vlerick (even if they applied for another Master than the MBA)!

The other news about Vlerick is that it will offer iPads for MBA students. But wait, only MBA-FSI students will get one and just as a pilot project! Koen announced us great news on the educational methodology front. There it is! And it is not not for us (we are just PTMBA, remember? Ok I know: it’s just a pilot ;-)) The official announcement is here and approximately reproduced here too. Very soon, you’ll see these type of students in Vlerick …

Have you seen the latest CSR slides? Oh yeah, too cool!

Now seriously, I appreciate the fact Vlerick tries to change and improve its ways of teaching. The main reason cited is that the MBA-FSI is given at different locations and putting slides on a tablet will reduce the carbon footprint of sending all the paper copies sent from Belgium (however I am wondering if the possibility of printing locally was ever considered …). It is also stated that the multimedia capabilities would probably be used in the future. But this last point seems a bit vague to me for the moment – IMHO.

I just hope they will join the other 1,000 other universities on iTunesU (and they will not “just” distribute PDFs of slides in a closed and proprietary reader). Or they will consider a more platform-independent and more socially interactive platform that just happens to also work on an iPad (but everything seems to need to be on iPad these days).

By the way, talking about improving your ecological footprint, I’m selling 11 binders of Vlerick courses (empty: I grouped all courses in 4 bigger binders and a 2Gb space on Dropbox). They look very smart. They are a good way to start a conversation with people when you roam around in your company with them under your arm. And they will soon become collectors as a new Vlerick brand will soon appear (another thing we are waiting since a long time … ;-)). You set the price (I know it doesn’t sound right for a MBA student but they are just collecting dust in the basement).

Vlerick business school files to sell

Photo credits: all mine except the middle one, from Adam Grabek on Flickr (license CC-by).

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Today, I went back to Vlerick …

I maybe should have posted more about the life as a Vlerick alumni :-) Anyway, after … ooops! already 2 years, I went back to Vlerick, in its Leuven campus, in breakout room 006, with a suit (no tie) and for an interview. But this time I had the great honor to be a jury member for the MGM.

Vlerick Admissions test binder

I will not write about how to succeed in this type of test (I blogged about it before and other websites might do it better than myself). However it was interesting to see adaptations from Vlerick and the motivation of some students.

For Vlerick, a lot changed since I did my admission test in Vlerick. There is a new logo and branding, a new campus in Brussels, they reorganised the MBA program, ranking improved a bit, etc. But it was very nice to see and meet again familiar faces like Mathieu Luypaert and Marion Debruyne, to sit on chairs that prevents you from sleeping in breakout rooms – like before, to taste the (improved) food of the cafeteria, …

And, last but not least, independently of their success in this assessment, I was also impressed by the motivation of the students, the diversity of their backgrounds, their eagerness to join Vlerick. Well, for some of the students at least ;-) But if you feel the need to start/improve your business knowledge in Belgium, I would encourage you to consider joining Vlerick – and show your enthusiasm from the first to the last minute of the interview!

And here comes the new Vlerick website!

After some time and the release of the new visual identity, here comes the new Vlerick website! The address did not change: https://www.vlerick.com/ but the content does. Here is an example of what it currently displays (with Prof. Van den Broeck from Beyonders as first guest star (well another guest star is Sharon Dhadialla from FTMBA2012 in the top banner :-))). Note that all links to the Vlerick website in my previous posts are now broken but I will not fix them: when you call a page that does not exist, you’ll find a nice error page with a search bar and the plan of the website.

As you can see the page is quite looOOOOoong. But everything is there: a menu to the main areas (Programme, Research, Community, etc.), some big news, the latest news, part of the agenda, some shortcuts to videos, the logos of all accreditations (btw it is clever to put them along “rankings”: people could easily mix between them). The bottom contains the classic items about the program, popular searches, etc. Three immediate remarks:

  • First it is impossible to quickly get the full agenda. Section “Upcoming events” just contains the three next ones. For your information, the full agenda is here.
  • Then the classic links to social websites are there. I was waiting for them :-) Each bottom of page also contains some links to share on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. The only drawback is that there is no hint when the mouse hover over these small icons. “f” or the Twitter bird are quite obvious (for someone who use these services). However what does the kind of white nunchaku on green background mean? (answer: even more sharing possibilities, with text legends this time).
  • Finally the website does not adapt gracefully to mobile devices. It’s just the same version, zoomed out. In a nutshell: no mobile version. Note however that http://m.vlerick.com/ does in fact respond (a 403 error but might still be the sign of something being prepared).

The previous motto (“we don’t teach – we develop what’s already inside you”) disappeared. Instead we have a “Brand Drivers” page (which is very different than “Mission and Values” that the URL suggest as Prof. Verweire of Strategy told us). There we learn that the new drivers of the school are: International (first! FT ranking officers, please notice this!), Vital, Open and Pragmatic (you draw your own conclusion when you compare with the previous values: synthesis, sense of entrepreneurship, integrity and autonomy, respect for diversity and customer orientation).

Social presence of Vlerick employeeThe content of pages is approximately what you expect to read from a school website. One nice thing however is that most pages have some kind of “owner”: a person responsible or at least who you can contact in order to get more information about the content of the page. There is a picture of the person. But what is even more interesting is that all means of communication are presented, if available. For instance Prof. Herman Van den Broek has links to his research page, his blog (well, in this case: the HR blog) and his twitter account (the last tweets are even displayed). Those who have a (corporate) Skype account will also have this link (like our dear Nina – user ID ninawalravens_vlerick – on the Executive MBA programme page). Idem for LinkedIn (more common than any other social presence, btw).

The library page is still there. The default page from http://www.vlerick.com/library is in Dutch (which seems logical – until you come from a page written in English, it might be surprising). On that page you will also switch back to the old, green favicon (the green V being the logo of the webpage) ; another page lost in transition? ;-) Of course the list of e-resources (like EBSCO) is still there. It struck me that 5 out of 9 links to Business and Management Literature are to Open Access resources. It might be interesting to hear more about how the school see this Open Access movement fit into their business and businesses in general.

I was also eager to see the official presentation of the new Executive MBA on the website. Here it is. Again a long vertical content :-) to present the “Matrix”. I don’t know if they will keep the Apollo name but the Leuven campus will only see week-end PTMBA. On the other hand Brussels will now welcome students on Monday + Tuesday. Will the content change? It’s difficult to say: labels of courses changed but how to know the content? In the old website we had a short description of each course (which was helpful to understand what were the topics that will be seen when preparing admission tests – ymmv). For instance I guess “Using & Interpreting Data” is the new “Fundamentals of Business Statistics”, “Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability” the new “Corporate Responsibility and Business Ethics” or “Understanding the Economic Context” the new “Economics”.

When it went out, I really liked the Vlerick Knowledge website. It is still there (although I couldn’t find it via the new website ; I had to type the correct URL: http://knowledge.vlerick.com/). It didn’t changed, neither its format nor its content since August 2012 in fact …

And last but not least: does the new website – with all these social web features – made blogging more popular at Vlerick? Unfortunately I don’t think so. You still have the outdated Dean’s blog (ok, there is an official letter announcing the new brand in 2012 but I don’t consider 1 post in 2 years exactly as “up-to-date”). You still have the active Masters’ blog and the SEC blog for instance. But I couldn’t find the general page redirecting to all blogs. But of course you should not dictate how staff should use web 2.0!

Some “before-after” for the end? Just click on the following images to enlarge (before is on the left, after = now is on the right)

One year of blogging here!

Birthday CakeYep, it’s been a little bit over one year since I started this blog (officially it was on June 8th). I started because, before joining the program, I was frustrated I could not find any glimpse of what the life of an MBA student at Vlerick is. The only blogger who approached this goal was Gleana Albritton in the prestigious FT.com blogs, a few years ago. That’s why, since I like to blog, I decided to write about my experience too.

And here we are, one year later … First, thanks a lot to you, reader, for your support and comments (also offline)! And also thanks a lot to my friends of Apollo, this blog owes a lot to you!

Then, don’t be fooled by this blog: it’s only one experience and I think there are as many experience as students. My biggest regret is not having participated too much in social events. But parties and drinks are definitely the reason why the Apollo group was so great (and I hope will continue to be, next year, thanks to our party animal a.o.). Also I didn’t write about everything that happened. First because it would really have been time consuming. Second because you have to join to share the experience ; the entrance ticket is only about 30k€ and your company may be willing to help ;-)

In a year this blog finally reached more than 100 posts that were seen a bit more than 10,000 times, with an average between 30 and 60 views per day since April. The top three searches that landed on this blog are: “wacc formula”, “euro crisis” and “vlerick admission test”. There are 5 queries containing “Vlerick” in the top 10 searches. So, coming back to my initial motivation, I’m happy. And the school can be relieved: its rebranding is a well-kept secret because nobody searched for “Vlerick (re)branding” this year! ;-)

Following my obsession of presenting results of all courses, people asked me if I am running after good grades. The answer is invariably: no, I don’t care about numbers/scores but I do care about good results. Of course I prefer to receive an A or A+ but I especially value the feedback (that the school can improve) and that people show me how I can improve. For me, that’s also part of the result. But I don’t know if I will continue to show grades, next year (and if I do, in which format).

So, thanks a lot, again. Enjoy your holidays! And see you next year (at the latest!).

Photo credit: Birthday Cake by Omer Wazir (CC-by-sa), on Flickr

Happy New Year 2012!

I wish you a very Happy New Year 2012. May you succeed in everything you start (and especially your MBA at Vlerick!).

Three MBA students signing for New Year 2012 (to get some money) - Original wallpaper by vladstudio.com

If I look back on this year blogging about my PTMBA at Vlerick, there are nice things to see …

For instance, here are the top 5 posts (exception made of the home page and the about page):

  1. An Overview of the Euro Crisis (NYT), a small post linking to a visualization of the Euro crisis in the New York Times
  2. Vlerick MBA 2011 planet, a post about what are the other students blogging around ; I’m still wondering why so few students are blogging about their experience at Vlerick. When you look at other schools, many students are blogging every year. Although Vlerick has a blogging platform it is currently not used by any MBA students (only Masters students ; maybe it will change with the new website) (*). Gleana Albritton used to blog as a FT MBA student at Vlerick in the FT blog area (wow!). Are studies too time consuming in Vlerick? Or life in Leuven not interesting enough? Is it not “Belgian” to blog? Almost everyone is on Twitter ; maybe blogs are so passé?
  3. Don’t shoot the red monkey, a post about Jef Staes‘ guest lecture
  4. Applied microeconomics, a small joke about graphs in microeconomics
  5. 1st MBA exam: done!, a post about my 1st exam taken at Vlerick

Of course, older posts have a slight advantage. One day I should maybe compute the exact hits per day each post received. One day, maybe.

If one looks at search terms for this year leading to this blog this year, here is the top 5 search terms (exception made of “jep does vlerick” which is quite obvious):

  1. euro crisis
  2. vlerick admission test
  3. movie maker logo
  4. microeconomics
  5. vlerick mba

Here again, older keywoards may have a slight advantage. I am amazed at the number of people visiting the blog regarding the admission test ; maybe because there isn’t much other information about that on the web.

Btw, Vlerick is also wishing you a happy 2012 :)

See you next year!

(*) Previous year full time MBA students used to officially blog from here but it seems that it is not used this academic year (and it is not linked anymore from the official Vlerick blogging platform). To reiterate my disappointment (as previously mentioned), part-time MBA students seem to be considered as less important: there is no part-time blogging platform (I tried http://ptmbablog.vlerick.com/). However, the number of PTMBA students are 2 – 3 times the number of FTMBA students, their fees are approximately the same and they stay longer. But I didn’t start this post to rant about that. Happy New Year to everyone! :)

Vlerick MBA Experience Day 2012/1

The first annual Vlerick MBA Experience Day is announced and will take place on Friday 27 January at 6.30PM in Leuven. Ok, if it starts at 6.30PM, it’s not really a “day” but whatever …

On this Open Day, we (part-time MBA students) will follow our usual class (it will be a session of Negotiation Skills with Prof. Dr. David Venter). But at the same time, people interested or curious about the MBA at Vlerick can join us, follow the class with us and also interact and ask all kinds of questions during the pauses around an informal drink.

Open Day 2010

Everyone has her/his own interests and her/his own way to get information about Vlerick and its MBAs. One way to track the interest of people is to watch how they landed on your website or blog. For instance, here are some questions typed in Google that led to this blog in the last 7 days:

  • admission test Vlerick
  • classes start 2013 mba Vlerick
  • day of a vlerick student
  • does an mba have exams?
  • educational leave Belgium MBA
  • HEC Paris vs Vlerick
  • how to succeed your interview at vlerick
  • motivational interview for mba
  • ranking belgian business schools
  • Vlerick admission test calculator
  • Vlerick ft ranking, 2011
  • Vlerick incompany project modular
  • Vlerick Leuven on campus assessment
  • Vlerick modular mba exams
  • Vlerick MBA [+study] [+INBEV] [+ranking]
  • Vlerick PTMBA
  • what i remember from my mba at Vlerick
  • what questions do Vlerick ask

(One good thing for me is that by typing them in a post, I re-inforce the position of this blog on these topics in search engines :) )

I am not saying everyone will be able to answer all of these questions during the Experience Day (but the presence of the Programme Director and the Programme Manager will certainly help). But imho it’s a good way to have a glimpse on MBAs at Vlerick. If you are interested, just leave a message below or contact me directly via e-mail and I will forward your request to the Programme Manager (she wants your name, job title, organization and e-mail address).

Photo credit: Open Day 2010 by WTO on Flickr (license CC-by-nd)

On-campus assessment

Entrance Ghent CampusSo you decided to do a MBA at Vlerick? Good! And you decided to take the on-campus assessment? Great! In this first post, I’ll try to give you the feeling of how it works, based on what happened in Ghent on April 12th, 2011 …

The on-campus assessment lasts one full day, either at the Ghent campus or the Leuven campus. There are four parts:

  1. an English test
  2. a logic test
  3. a motivational interview
  4. a cv interview

The order in which you will take the tests and interviews depends on your last name and the ones from the other participants. When Vlerick wrote that “The admission test will start at 08.00 am sharp and will end around 05.00 pm”, the test indeed starts at 8am. No welcome speech (we are not there for that, isn’t it?). No equivocation. Just plain efficiency :-)

I started with the English test. You enter the room, take your seat. Papers and a pencil are provided. My test was a text read by someone (a man) in a rather neutral tone and good English. The text was an article from The Economist about the merger of T-Mobile and At&T in the USA (people who took this test before told me they had a radio conversation about the Sarbanes–Oxley Act). The text is read only once. You can take notes. Your first assignment will be to summarize what you heard (my advice: do it in the more logical manner, not necessarily the way the information was presented in the article). Your second assignment will be to give your opinion on the article itself. I think it also helps to put some broader ideas about the environment in which the topic takes place. One last tip: use your time wisely.

Immediately after, I took the logical test. It is not a GMAT (it’s easier in fact, more focused). You sit in front of laptops (with Belgian AZERTY keyboards, this disturbed some people on that day) and answer multiple choice questions. These questions are about what is presented in charts or tables. Some answers are obvious (i.e. you just need to find the right cell), most questions require some calculation (a very tiny calculator is provided ; if you have fat fingers, you can use the tip of the pen – also provided).

During lunch, sandwiches and drinks are provided. It’s now time to really meet other people. What I liked was that it was very informal. You have – of course – people who consider themselves very important and look down their noses at you but most of other test takers are very friendly and relax. No business cards, no fluffy talks and a breeze of fresh air from students trying to enter other masters.

Now how the two interviews proceed will depend on your background, your curriculum vitae, the interviewers and probably many other factors. The “cv interview” is supposed to go through your cv (!): you might be asked to explain your career choices, what you did at some companies, how the MBA fits in your career plan, etc. During the motivational interview, interviewers will see your motivation (!): why a MBA, why now, why full-time/part-time, why at Vlerick, how the MBA fits in your career plan, how do you see yourself in the future, etc. As you can read, it seems there aren’t any rules. I guess there must be some because each jury member can’t interview all the candidates. I think that what works is to be yourself, to tell the truth but always get the positive side, always build a constructive conclusion from what you think might be negative.

How to prepare? Big question! My take is that you don’t need any preparation if you are already interested in business. That means you already know why you want to do an MBA, why at Vlerick, what are your career aspirations, what is happening in your business area, etc. That also means you already read the Financial Times, The Economist, CNN, Business Week, etc. (doesn’t mean you spend all your time on these media but you read some papers at least from time to time). You may prepare the distance assessment just for yourself: it already prepares you to answer some basic questions that will most probably be asked. One nice thing you can do is also find people who work in your current (or previous) company and who did Vlerick (“alumni”): offer them a coffee and discuss about why they did Vlerick, what they did to prepare, what questions they had, etc. During these interviews, I got interesting feedback like one who prepared the logical test by playing mind games at the Wii or another one who was asked which Disney character he was.

What to bring? Definitely something to read. You’ll need to wait for some time between the interviews, during lunch and before the results (if you wait for them at the end of the day). Otherwise bring your c.v., bring a pen and some sheets of paper.

What was the outcome?

successIf you are patient, the proclamation usually takes place during the evening, around 8PM (or 9PM in our case). If you are in, congrats! If you are out, you have a chance to see what went wrong or any other reason why they didn’t take you. I think this is a very good think to know why you failed. And I think Vlerick should also tell people who succeeded why they succeeded and more importantly what can be improved.

So personally I got it! :-) I was so happy I couldn’t believe it when they pronounced my name. I had to stop the car on the way back home to check my e-mails and get the written confirmation (oh, because they immediately send a confirmation by e-mail – that’s nice from them!).

Wow, this is a long post! I would finally thanks alumni I interviewed for their precious time and people I met on the assessment day for the interesting discussions. I hope to see you later again!

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