Don’t shoot the red monkey

Last Friday, I think we had our most controversial class. Prof Dr Dirk Buyens (Human Resource Management) warned us in advance. We were not deceived: Jef Staes is really different than previous lecturers. Given the affiliations and public profiles of some future guest lecturers, I doubt we will have anyone so different anymore.

In my opinion, in order to bring new ideas, you have to somehow be radical in your ideas. Or maybe it’s just the enthusiasm in the way to express those controversial ideas. Anyway Jef Staes began with the idea that if you don’t use twitter (he is @jefstaes) and every “social media” tools or if you don’t know how to publish a video clip of yourself on the internet, you are losing time in an MBA class. Take it literally and two students left the room because they couldn’t agree (and I think they were right to do so). Take it as a metaphor and you might agree that if you can’t use all the resources available to get the information, you have a handicap compared to other managers, compared to other teams.

I will not summarize 3.5 hours of course here but, in a nutshell, Jef Staes presented more a vision about how innovation should be handled in a company, the part of information availability / social media being something to build upon.

I brake for red monkeysPersonally, being part of an innovation process in my company, I already saw most of the behaviors Jef mentioned. It was nice to understand that these negative behaviors were not specific to my company but things that are usually “there” when people innovate. Jef Staes added that next (“3D”) managers will need a vision, lots of passion and be able to use all the information available, via all possible channels.

Note: for those who wonder what is a red monkey, Jef Staes published several videos on YouTube. Here are some of them …

Photo credit: I brake for red monkeys by myself ;) on Flickr (CC-by-sa)

Why choose Vlerick for your MBA?

Like this, the title look like an ad paid by Vlerick but it’s not :-)

When you start considering doing a MBA everyone will start asking you the same 2 questions:

  1. Why a MBA?
  2. Why at [put here the school you have chosen]?

Why are you starting a MBA?

There are thousand good and bad reasons for you to start a MBA. But there are also thousand reasons that you shouldn’t do a MBA. If you don’t know them yet, let me help you find them. Even better: take a pencil and a paper, go outside and write all your ideas, reasons, hopes, fears, … about that MBA.

This will help you think :-)

Why a MBA at Vlerick?

In my opinion, choosing a business school before any classes is very theoretical. The first filter will be the match between your reasons to do a MBA (see above) and the general orientation of the potential business schools. You can then judge by browsing the programme, interviewing alumni, visiting the campus, etc. But you still lack the real experience of living with your courses, classes, other students, etc.

There are things you can’t change. Vlerick is located in Leuven or Ghent, Belgium, Europe (and also in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia). In that sense, it’s not in the USA where most top MBAs come from. It’s not (yet) even listed in the European MBAs in Wikipedia. But, regarding reputation, Vlerick can be proud to be in good positions in the different rankings available. For instance:

Vlerick also has a very good reputation in the multinational company I am currently working at (I acknowledge there might be a bias since its headquarters are in Belgium but it’s still a good indicator when people from abroad did their MBA at Vlerick). If you are currently working in Belgium and planning to follow the part-time (“executive”) MBA, Vlerick is the best choice.

Like most business schools, you have the choice between a full-time MBA and two non-full-time ones: part-time or modular. The table below gives you the main practical differences.

Full-time Part-time Modular
Length 1 year 2 years 18 months
Classes every weekday 2 evenings and 1 afternoon during workweek most week-ends and/or holidays
Int’l study trip yes yes no
In-company project yes yes yes

Personally, I want to work during my studies. It will certainly be more difficult but it will keep me in the loop of what’s happening in the field. YMMV. For people working in Belgium, it’s interesting to know that the programme is recognized for paid educational leave (info in French).

Beside these “technical” details, what I like in the Vlerick programme is their focus on entrepreneurship, operation and management rather than specifically finances/accounting (like some other MBAs in Belgium). Then destinations of the international study trip are Beijing, New York, Mumbai and Cape Town: you may be interested in the focus on two of the BRIC countries too.

Finally, after some interviews with alumni, one thing that recurrently came was that Vlerick is very well organized. This is one thing one could already see: we already received (we are mid-July) the schedule for the next two years as well as a thick student handbook where most practical questions are answered.

Now this is theory (well, a little bit of experience too, in fact). It will be interesting to see if I have still the same reasons to choose Vlerick after 1 year and at the end of the MBA :-)

Photo credit: Corn cob from myself :-) on Flickr

%d bloggers like this: