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 ;-)

Last Vlerick Apollo CPA, Gangnam style (강남스타일)

Following some requests, here is Mark’s happy holidays card featuring Fabian, our CPA!


At the next party, will we risk to see the following?

Congratulations to Apollo 2010-2012!


They look so sweet! :-)
Photo credits: GraduationVlerickGhent2012-9998 by Vlerick on Flickr (All rights reserved – but hey!)

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 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

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!

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!

iMex auction – bid for an exclusive iToyz T-shirt and support a good cause

Although it’s raining heavily outside we can feel that the end of the year is approaching. First-year students are now alone in most classes, second-year students are wrapping-up the iMex game, etc. And our Apollo team won the Fresh Connection game! Congratulations to Peter, Sam, Tom and Bart!

Always open for good news and people doing good, here is a very interesting offer from the iToyz Management Team …

Dear iToyz customers and fans,

So you’ve seen the iToyz management team walking around with some really cool T-shirts over the past two years and you’ve been dying to get one yourself. Well we have good news for you! iToyz has decided to exceptionally auction off the last remaining T-shirt and all proceeds will be sent to a good cause. So not only will you be able to please yourself, you’ll also contribute to making children in need happy. In line with our CSR strategy and the line of business we work in, we have decided to support the charity “Toys of Hope” ( through this auction.

The auction will take place on Friday 15th of June at 18:00 in campus Leuven, auditorium -1.01. For those who are not able to attend but want to bid, we offer an easy solution. Starting from today, you can send an email to with your name and the amount that you’re willing to bid. Until the start of the live auction, we will send regular updates to all bidders if new bids have been entered to allow counter bids.

If you would like to be added to the distribution list or if you would like to be removed from this distribution list, please send us an email.

Thanks in advance on behalf of “Toys of Hope“,
The iToyz Management team

A 1st-year-student’s look at the IMEx game

Since a few weeks, some strange beasts are invading the Leuven campus. Oh not as strange as a few years ago when people used to see this:

But it is strange enough to see simple A4 papers with names of toys companies like iToyz, Jamis Toys, etc. As well as a team of strange animals with green T-shirts in the wild. If we stay in the comfort of our home, just simply sitting in the sofa with a tablet in our hands (an iPad for iJules!), we could even spot a few e-mails sent to the Apollo mailing-list and browse the wonderful website of Jamis Toys ;-) (at least they have one).

They all said to belong to the IMEx game. Even other students in the full-time MBA as well as other part-time students in Ghent played or are playing this game. It is supposed to be the culmination of the MBA, the nirvana that transforms everything you learned in silos during 1 or 2 years in a giant soup of knowledge, a bit like a ligand in a metal complex. So, as first years students, we are a bit intrigued, we try to take advantage from the last moments we will be with 2nd students to grab some information about this “thing”.

Ok but what is the IMEx game? First, it’s an acronym for Integration Management Exercise. Well, it’s immediately less sexy … But it tells what it is: it is about developing and implementing a strategic plan, in group of 5 to 7 students representing a company, each of the participants having a role to play (the documentation states the following roles: CEO, HR manager, Finance Manager, Purchasing manager, Productions Manager, and Marketing Manager). The goal is obviously to beat other teams in terms of market share/share price but also employees happiness and environmental consciousness. The underlying goal is to apply what participants learned in the last 2 years: HR, marketing, finances, strategy, negotiations, etc. I guess this is also the place to put a bit of your personality since some “unplanned events” happened in this Apollo session: a fire in the factory, strikes (ok, both not so sexy again) and claims of child abuse (as in “child labour”) or environmental issues (and probably others, kept behind closed doors – and closed curtains – of break our rooms in Leuven).

So, yes, it’s a business game. And Vlerick has a web-based system as a technical backbone for it. From an external point of view, it seems to be a bit like a turn-based, role-playing game – only a bit more serious with tables and charts instead of real-time, gorgeous 3D characters ;-)

Of course there are business games in other business schools: FORAD, Industrad, Stratpharm (among other games) at INSEAD for instance. But since there is an association of business game producers (ABSEL, also using WordPress :-)), I wonder if there is also a kind of classification of business games. Which one is better overall or in specific domain(s)? Which one is the most user-friendly? Which one is the closest to reality? Can we make them compete one against each other (like in chess)? And is there any of them (including Vlerick IMEx) that can beat Capitalism (*), apparently the best business game out there?

So, ready for IMEx, next year?

(*) Capitalism is apparently so complex that one said “it should come with a free MBA in every box” :-)

No guts no glory

Following the opening of this blog to guest contributions from distinguished members of the Apollo Team (see International Study Trip), please welcome Bart van der Heijden as guest reported from The Fresh Connection game …

During the MBA, students have the time to fill their already tight schedule with all sorts of extra curriculum activities. One of these activities started in January with an email from Nina explaining a business simulation game called the fresh connection. Based on the information in the email we could read that we needed to form teams of about 4 students, who each fill in a different role: the role of the VP Sales, VP SCM, VP Operations and the VP Purchasing. Each team is responsible for the supply chain management of the fictitious fruit juices producer The Fresh Connection. The challenge is to optimize the supply chain of The Fresh Connection. In 6 weekly rounds, each team takes decisions.

During a first Friday drink, four students decided to team up and subscribe … The roles were divided as follows, with the help of a few straws:

  • VP SCM – Peter
  • VP Operations – Sam
  • VP Purchasing – Tom
  • VP Sales – Bart

Full of enthusiasm and good ideas, we started the first round. Our strategy was to change only a few parameters to see the effect, but, given the number of buttons we could use, off course in the end we changed everything. The result of the first round clearly hit us hard, an ROI of -30.92 %. We were convinced that we had to improve this result and started developing some models and calculations to optimize the supply chain. ROI of Team Apollo in the Fresh Connection 2012Luckily, this worked out well, the result of the second round was -2.14 %. For some reason, we became greedy and convinced that we could do much better. Again a lot of parameters were changed with the side note that 75% of the team was in China and 25% in Africa (so you can imagine the level of coordination between the different functions). The result, an ROI of -58,64 %. Finally, in round four, we were back with our feet on the ground and decided that from now on, our ROI should be positive. Even the payment of the subscription fee to Bart was depending on the result: the team would only repay their share once a positive ROI was reached. As have been taught in HR courses, great incentives will lead to great results. We removed a few products from our assortment, focused on fressiepressie, squeezed some suppliers and customers into better contracts and based our whole supply chain on the forecasted demand: the result was an astonishing ROI of 8.73 %. For round five we decided not to change too much, but continue on the basis we have set this far. This turned out to be a great success, round 5 ROI 16.18 %!

With this magnificent score, Team Apollo is today ranked first out of 15 amongst all international business schools with only one round left. The expectations are sky-high, our VP operations is convinced we can reach an ROI of 28% as a result of the sixth round. This Friday we will make the final decisions for our fruit company and on Monday (28/5/2012) around noon, we update you with the result.

Ranking of Apollo Team in The Fresh Connection game 2012

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