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!

Some economic conferences about India in Leuven / Brussels

I don’t know if the international business trips changed with the re-branding nor if destinations are still the same nor if second-year students will still be able to go. But, as this blog is accustomed to posts about India, here are two events that may interest you too:

Leuven India FocusOn Monday October 1st, 2012, Jayanthi Chandrasekharan will present a lecture about “India and EU: Trade and Beyond“. It will be at 6.30PM at Ravenstraat / Erasmusplein in Leuven. More info on the Leuven Center for Global Governance Studies website.

From October 8th to 11th, there will be a theme week: “India and development cooperation – from recipient to donor“, in collaboration with KH Leuven, HUBrussel and HIVA. Again: more info on the Leuven Center for Global Governance Studies website.

A week ago: the Indian business night

Time is flying: the Indian business night happened a week ago! It was a nice evening. Since very few people showed up we went for an interactive format and many people liked it. Philippe Vlerick shared with us his very practical experience with India and Indians. Kiran Gupta brought humble thoughts from a giant like Tata. Finally Venkat Subramanian consolidated all the discussions with additional data. Food (provided by InBAG) was very good (even according to Indians ;-))

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Thanks to all of you for your presence!

Indian Business Night in Vlerick Ghent, June 5th

Just a reminder that you are all invited to the

Indian Business Night

in Vlerick Ghent

on June 5th, 2012 at 7PM.

Ever wondered what does it take or what is it like to do business in India? Interested in listening to industry captains who experienced India or who brought a bit of India in Belgium? Wait no more, here is an opportunity to meet them! Them?

  • Baron Philippe Vlerick, CEO of Uco Textiles and chairman of our beloved school,
  • Hemakiran Gupta, country manager of Tata Consultancy Services,
  • Prof. Venkat Subramanian, professor at Vlerick school.

And on top of that, a light vegetarian dinner will be served :-)

So come and join us on June 5th, in Vlerick Ghent.

In a nutshell:

And if you have any question, feel free to contact me!

+ feel free to invite whoever interested you want, it’s open to everyone!

+ but we would be glad if you could send an email confirming your presence (for the caterer), thanks!

See you on June 5th!

First Indian Evening at Vlerick on June 5th, 2012

After some days and nights of hard work :-), we are proud to announce the first Indian Evening at Vlerick Ghent, on June 5th, 2012!

Textile Industry, Raipur, Chhattisgarh

The idea of this evening is to give Vlerick students (and any other people interested) insights on India, its businesses and the opportunities future businessmen will find in India. An interesting perspective would be to hear opinions of  business leaders on these topics as well as their stories on doing business with / in Belgium and, more broadly, Europe.

The confirmed speakers currently are:

More info will follow soon. But be sure to save the date! June 5th, 2012, at around 18.00!

India Inc: How India's Top Ten Entrepreneurs are Winning Globally - book cover

Photo credits (edited on March 12, 2012): Textile Industry, Raipur, Chhattisgarh (all rights reserved) by Ice Cubes and India Inc: How India’s Top Ten Entrepreneurs are Winning Globally – book cover (all rights reserved) by Vikas Pota on Flickr (the book).
Ok, for those interested, the Bollywood actors previously displayed here and in the presentation are Aishwarya Rai (picture) and Hrithik Roshan (picture) :-)

Industrial growth rate and business investment in Indian states

The Ficci (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) and Bain&co published a report comparing industrial growth rate and business investment in 7 Indian states (among the 28 states in total in India).

Map of Indian states (from Nations Online Project)

Map of Indian states (from Nations Online Project)

Although Bangalore and Mumbai are considered as the two major economic centres in India, their states (Karnataka and Maharashtra, respectively) are not ranked first. The winner is: Orissa! And the last state is (West) Bengal. The Telegraph (from Kolkata) has some more details. The full rating, according to growth rate of industrial output, is:

State Growth rate of
industrial output
Orissa 12.0%
Karnataka 10.5%
Rajastan 7.9%
Gujarat 7.5%
Tamil Nadu 7.0%
Maharashtra 6.9%
Bengal 3.7%

Where will you invest, next time?

Indian business schools revamping their cursus

Today, here is a second post that has less to do with Vlerick per se. I just read an article from the (Indian) Economic Times about Indian business schools revamping their cursus. I was curious about this article because, at Vlerick, we talk about a future new branding, a future new website, potential evolution of courses following feedback from students (is that possible? ;-) ), etc. I was then wondering how are business school in other countries (and Indian in particular, sorry guys if I always come back on this) and how they are evolving.

David Garvin (HBS) on Rethinking the MBA

Everything started last year when three professors from HBS published a book about “rethinking the MBA” (S.M. Datar, D.A. Garvin -above- and P. Cullen, Harvard Business Press Books, 2010). In a video, Prof. David Garvin explains “why business education is at a crossroads” (in other words: why he wrote the book and why you should buy it). In a nutshell, if many business schools focused on knowledge and analytic skills, in the authors’ opinion, very few MBA graduates have a balance between this knowledge and practical skills and a “sense of purpose and identity”. This would make them brainy in theory but handicapped in practice.

Re-thinking the MBA idea

The new curriculum proposed (both by the book, by some US business school and apparently now by some Indian b-schools) contains:

  • subjects like business ethics and CSR (*),
  • more field works and supervised projects,
  • more self-analysis and leadership humility,
  • a more global perspective,
  • etc.


Now, did Vlerick applied this? I’m not privy to how/what Vlerick decides for its programme but I think we have a little bit of everything mentioned above … Vlerick has business ethics and CSR classes, it has in-company and give back projects for full-time students (the project for part-time students) as well as the IMEX game giving an integrated persepctive of the whole curriculum and the global perspective is given by the diversity of students’ origins (especially in full-time students) and the international study trip. As I only spent 6 months so far, I don’t know yet if there aren’t other activities.

It’s good to have these activities but is it enough and are we good at them? As the proposed balance is only 1-year old, I think very few people exactly know what is the right balance and which school is good at re-thinking its MBA.

What do you think? Is is just a cosmetic change or is it really something that will change the face of MBA studies? As a Vlerick student/alumni, do you think your b-school was re-thought enough (or that it doesn’t/didn’t need to be re-thought) (anonymous reply authorised ;-) )?

(*) the author of the MBA oath was a student of Prof. David Garvin ;-)

Private International Study Trip: Mumbai?

This has nearly nothing to do with Vlerick. However, here are the tiny links:

  1. Who chose Mumbai as the 1st or 2nd destination for their international study trip?
  2. Who would be interested in going to India for a private international study trip?

Let’s bounce back from the disappointment that Vlerick cancelled Mumbai and St Petersburg this year. Let’s see this as an opportunity to organize a private trip. And I would be more than happy if this idea of private trip is copied or even enhanced for other destinations that students would like to see (I heard about Brazil, the B in BRICS, but why not Russia – also cancelled – or Vietnam, Japan, Singapore, Australia, Israel, Greece – why not, Canada, etc.)!

My idea is that we can do it!

panchratna buidling, and chaupati view ,mumbai town view, Mumbai, INdia

We = the students in Apollo (even the ones who didn’t choose Mumbai at all, 1st year, 2nd year, I don’t care). But then why not invite students from other PTMBA, the modular one and even the full time students (if they have time), professors? And why not welcome spouses and kids (but not for “classes” or meetings)? However I understand there will be at least two drawbacks: it is an additional cost both in money and in holidays (but everything is an opportunity cost, right?).

While I’m talking about holidays, dates would be flexible: the ones that suit most people. I understand one week is a lot (regarding absence from work, family, classes at Vlerick, etc.) but I think it’s a minimum given the investment in money and time (already 2 times half a day for the return journey). Practically, I wouldn’t advise doing it in July-August (too hot).

A starting point for the content could be the program of last year. I already asked Prof. Dewettinck if we could potentially get some help from Vlerick about that. I hope we’ll receive a positive answer. And we could also find people by ourselves (in our companies, in our relations, some full-time students maybe, etc.).

Money: it will be more costly than the Vlerick trip since we’ll need to pay both the trip and the accommodation. I guess there will be also a cost regarding invited professors, guest speakers, meeting places, etc. But we are studying this MBA also to be able to find creative ways of funding, isn’t it?

Sweat: we’ll have to organize this by ourselves, even if we may have help from 3rd-parties (Vlerick?, embassies?, companies?, etc.).


  • Who would be happy to participate?
  • Who is just interested / curious and would maybe join depending on the conditions / dates / etc.?
I have put some draft ideas here. I probably forgot lots of things. I don’t know if it’s too ambitious or really the bare minimum.
Just think about it.
Now I should really start studying Economics for Thursday but I will be more than happy to discuss about this electronically or during classes, next week.

Photo credit: panchratna buidling, and chaupati view ,mumbai town view, Mumbai, INdia by ganuullu on Flickr (Cc-by-nc-nd)

Business in India in The Economist

fire iconHappy Diwali! For those who still want to go to India for their International Trip, this week edition of The Economist has a 14-pages special report on business in India (some articles seem to be free on the website).

The Economist cover (with special report on business in India)

And for those who prefer China, its next special report will be in the June 25th issue.

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