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

I’m right! is now launched!

After some intense work and a group session, our Communication Skills assignment is finally launched! You saw the trailer previously, now you can discover the whole story here:


It is about (mis-)communication, the employee-boss relationship, frustration, unsaid things and lower performances. I had a lot of fun doing it with Sammy, Peter, Bart and Stijn. Thanks, guys!

Btw, Merry Christmas! :-)

Vlerick EMBA program now only 90th in the FT rankings – should I worry?

From time to time, you wonder if you chose well your business school (well, that’s also when you procastinate instead of working on your statistics assignment – that’s another story). It all started with an e-mail stating that the MBA at Antwerp Management School earned a 50th position in the FT EMBA ranking (while Vlerick EMBA is down from the 77th position to the 90th) …

Ok so let me gather some facts first (best of each row in bold):

Ranking Vlerick B.S. Antwerp M.S. Solvay B.S.E.M. IAG-L.S.M.
FT European Business School Rankings 2011 16 (↓ from 13) 62 (↓ from 57) 46 (↓ from 42) 51 (↓ from 48)
FT EMBA Ranking 2012 90 (↓ from 77) 50 (entry)
FT Global MBA Ranking 2012 70 (↓ from 71)
The Economist Full time MBA ranking 66
Aspen Institute Beyond Grey Pinstripes Vlerick

There is a limited number of rows because I was focused on Belgian business schools that are not in the WSJ ranking nor in the BusinessWeek ranking for instance. Thus Vlerick is in three types of configuration: either ranked alone (we don’t know how the other would behave), either in first position (EU ranking 2011), either in second position. Why can’t Vlerick be first everywhere? (and also I’m only comparing Belgian business school).

Before going into the details of what components are in the EMBA ranking of 2012, there is something that is worrying: whatever business school, whatever ranking, all Belgian business schools are going down! How come? I thought that more and more students were chosing European business schools, mostly because they seem more prepare to face the economic crisis and cheaper (this does not necessarily mean of better quality I agree).

So let’s compare VBS and AMS (again, best of each row in bold, “Past” column indicates if this factor includes data from past years in the FT comparison) …

Vlerick B.S. Antwerp M.S. Weight in FT (%) Past in FT
Rank 2012 90 (↓) 50
Rank 2011 81 (↓)
Rank 2010 61
3 year average 77
Salary total (US$) 115,204 175,930.00 20 y
Salary increase (%) 54 53 20
Career progress rank 41 2 5 y
Work experience rank 90 35 5
Aims achieved rank 33 82 5 y
Women faculty (%) 23 22 3
Women students (%) 19 35 3
Women board (%) 16 0 1
International faculty (%) 25 14 5
International students rank 81 67 5
International board (%) 100 86 2
International course experience rank 66 30 5
Languages 2 2 1
Faculty with doctorates (%) 95 84 5
FT doctoral rank 80 88 5 y
FT research rank 77 92 10 y

So clearly we see the AMS is recruing people declaring a much higher salary (entrance fee is approximately the same) and declaring a very good career progress after the EMBA. AMS classes has nearly the double of women than VBS. And where the VBS makes a good difference with AMS, the FT doesn’t give that much weight to it (e.g. women on board, international board, etc.).

What is interesting is that AMS alumni declared being very pleased with their career progress. While Vlerick alumni declared being very pleased with their aims achieved. The first sentence is not surprising. Let’s compare the two graphs of alumnis’ current job title 3 years after graduation:

So – back to the title – should I worry?

I don’t think that Vlerick should change its behaviour (exclusively) according to rankings. However it could work on recruitement, career counselling / progress and research in order to improve some criteria in the FT ranking. But on a personal level, you know where you should work on your own and where Vlerick can help you …

PTMBA students in the press – 2012 version

After Danny on YouTube last year, this year it is Mark on Vimeo – as an investor for the Battle of Talents 2011. Enjoy (it starts at 3:16)!

It is really stupid the 2012 version of Battle of Talents is only in Dutch. This is a big FAIL! But this is another topic …

Eleventh set of results in!

Well, enumerating these results is becoming a bit boring … Yesterday was the closing seminar. Today we received our results for Entrepreneurship (Prof. Bart Clarysse). Here they are:

Everyone passed, worst scores are “B”. Congratulations to everyone!

Ok, next year I really have to find something else for these results. Any suggestion?

Tenth set of results in!

The wait was not too long (and bearable). We got the results for Strategic Management this afternoon. For this class we had to give back a group paper about the strategy of our industry. Sometimes it’s not that obvious to find a common link in strategies of 5 “random” companies but that’s part of the fun!

Strategic Management results

So, results are skewed to the right. Nobody is at the extremes. More than half of the class has an A- or A! Congratulations to everyone!

Ninth set of results in!

Ask for it and you get it. Here are the results for Organisational Behaviour and Leadership (a group presentation, a mandatory personal paper about a 360° evaluation done before and an optional personal paper). This time, this is a skewed bell curve, everyone passed and there are rumors … ;-) Well, this is about being leaders, isn’t it? :-)

Btw this is the 100th post on this blog :-)

Fireworks for the end of year: JAMIS Toys wins the iMEX game in Leuven!

It is probably the same every year. But for us it’s new so let us enjoy … After the FreshConnection game, Apollo also has a winner for the iMEX game in Leuven: JAMIS toys! After a smear campaign regarding its employees’ civil rights they still manage to succeed. Congrats to Astrid, Mike, Jules, Ivan and Sébastien!

Simon Stockley and rocket science

For those who were intrigued by the fact Simon Stockley‘s hobby was rockets and rocket science, there is a “proof” on Youtube:

Yes, that’s him launching the rocket!

Now more seriously I quite liked Simon’s class on entrepreneurship, on Friday. Before the class I was afraid we would have the same frameworks and ideas as the ones developed for HR or OBL. But it was definitely not the case ; not that the two are completely different but because human relations in an entrepreneurial venture are different than in an established company.

At another level, Simon was the only professor so far not to niggle about his wife. Remarkable enough to be mentioned! And when you read some of his experience (ok, I know, everybody went through difficult times but you are not obliged to believe me), you appreciate more the person :-)

Vertrouven Bakkerij – a negotiation/leadership case

bakery Vertrouven Bakkerij was initially a small bakery founded by Andre Vertrouven in 1953 in the Northern part of Belgium. At that time, Andre was making bread and many other sweets and his wife, Celine, was helping in the shop (especially at the end of the day).

Andre always had one motto: “Be passionate in what you do, always cherish the trust of your customers, make them participate in the business”. His bakery was very successful. He was able to hire an assistant, Jo, in 1957 as well as his niece, Laura, as assistant shop keeper (in 1960). Andre had two sons, Jeroen and Fillip, and in order to prepare his succession, Andre opened a branch closer to the capital city: one branch will go to each of his sons. When they took over, his sons continued their father’s work and Vertrouven Bakkerij continued to gain customers at a steady pace. The bakery became more and more popular and people also started to come from the capital city – usually on Sundays – to buy their cookies. These sweet little cookies were indeed the (only) innovation they brought during their years at heads of the bakery. Revenue also came at a steady pace, increasing by a few points every year or two.

To his biggest dismay, Jeroen had no child. The only person in the family who could succeed was Tom, the only son of Fillip. Tom was the first male child not to start studies to become a baker (he did a brilliant M.Sc. thesis in retail trade). Tom had big ideas and even bigger ambitions for the family-owned bakery. He wanted to increase revenue, industrialize at least some parts of the production chain (still mostly manual in 1998), give a modern image while keeping the traditional feeling of the bread produced. He was thinking of diversifying into more products, making alliances with supermarkets for the cookies and opening more branches than 2 for the “traditional bakeries”. Borrowing money and asking for investment capital from outside the fanily was not an issue for him.

Drupal summer school One of his best ideas was started in 2004. During summer 2004 indeed, one “cooking class” started in the original bakery shop. Students would get an introduction about bread and a lengthy speech on the history of Vertrouven Bakkerij. He even brought in his father Fillip and his uncle Jeroen to tell students historical stories about the company. During the same day, students would then learn how to make a simple bread, actually bake it and they could come back home with their bread (for free) and any additional item they would buy in the bakery itself, at the end of the day.

The concept was so successful that Tom expanded the concept to attract companies and not only “women in their 30s-40s bored at home when their kids are at school” (dixit Tom). Tom indeed followed a training on leadership given by a skipper who did a round-the-world trip with inexperienced sailors. Tom thought that people don’t need to have such extreme examples that are, in the end, far from their everyday lives. He always remembered his grand-father, Andre, a hard working man, the founder of the company, the one who put service to his customer before the emergency of bringing his wife to the hospital for the delivery of their first daughter – Tom’s aunt. His grand-father was already working in the bakery at 5AM, everyday of his life. He was also managing a team of a few people. He learned accounting by himself. And he was once honored by the municipality for his positive and trustworthy work in the Community. With all that, Andre Vertrouven could make a perfect figure for leadership and, at the same time, remain close to everyday issues average employees at companies would face.

And this concept worked! On top of individuals, companies signed for these “Leadership and communication at the bakery” courses of one week. The fact it was much cheaper than a similar course with a renowned but retired “captain of the industry” or with a skipper who live from these courses, probably helped. And slowly Tom became less interested in the product lines in his factory, the way his 10 branches decorated shops or partnership with supermarkets. During Easter and summer of 2010, Tom started to organize parallel sessions of the same course at their 2 original branches. These Eater and summer schools lasted until 2012. Tom developed a complex system of dual-classes / split-professorships where students at one branch could meet with students at the other branch, on top of the mix between batches, and where professors had to give classes at both sites during the same week but at different times.

Economic downturn.In 2012 even cheaper price couldn’t help keeping the economic recession at bay. People and companies became less interested in leadership courses. Starting from April 2012, Tom saw intentions to follow summer classes dropping. Tom could arch his back and take a loss on a few sessions. But he definitely wanted to change something.

Between April and June 2012, Tom brainstormed with his staff of potential solutions. July came and a batch of Summer classes started. Tom cherished these students: by putting some more communication efforts (and additional cookies at pauses) they could become better ambassadors and bring more students for future sessions. Although he cherished these students, he never spoke to them about these difficulties. And after three days, Tom decided he will not arch his back – why deprive the company of money? So Tom asked the board to stop all classes that are not at the original, historical location. Right now.

On Wednesday evening, Tom sent Patrick, the Programme Manager, to announce that for the two last days of the course, students will need to join the other students at the other location. Those who don’t want to follow can get their money back and leave. Tom was ok to sacrifice this amount of cash – but that was the only gesture he was ready to make. On the positive side, Patrick also announced that the certificate they would get at the end (if they continue) would have another, better meaning for next years: it would take them at the second level of the assistant baker education (it will however only be applied in 2 years). And, even better, Vertrouven Bakkerij would, at the end of this 5 years plan, have a brand new campus in the capital city, even more classes, a new name and a new logo – because the crisis will be over at that time.

Tom was very surprised when Patrick phoned him on Wednesday night and told him students were not happy with the change. How do they dare? This is the best plan for the bakery! Tom agreed to meet the students at 11AM on Thursday.

Answer the following questions:

  1. Do you see an evolution of the values and principles at Vertrouven Bakkerij?
  2. If you were in Tom’s position, would you have taken the same decisions? If yes, in what mindset and with what proposals (if any) would you come to the meeting on Thursday, 11AM? If you would have taken different decisions, what would you have done?
  3. If you were in the students’ position, would you have had the same reaction? If yes, in what mindset and with what proposals would you come to the meeting on Thursday, 11AM?
  4. Tip: as much as you can, follow what has been thought in class about “integrated, value-enhancing, relationship-building, principled negotiation”.

Note: this is a purely fictional and invented case ; any resemblance to any existing or past events would be – of course – pure coincidence!

Photo credit: bakery by liberalmind1012, on Flickr (license CC-by), Drupal summer school by han Soete, on Flickr (license CC-by-nc-sa) and Economic downturn. by iamdat, on Flickr (license CC-by-nc-sa).

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