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 ;-)

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Note the chocolate Easter eggs filling it: thanks Neuhaus and thanks Vesna for providing such excellent chocolate! :-p

Vlerick Global MBA now 84th in the FT rankings …

Well, preceding episodes in the serie are here and here. The FT Global MBA ranking 2013 is here (Vlerick specifically here). You can forge your own opinion by yourself.

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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: http://imright.info.

framework-ABC

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 programs now 14th in the FT European rankings – should I worry?

Yooohoo! After the (very) bad performance of the EMBA this year, a rebranding exercise and a new website, the whole schoool is back at the 14th position in the FT rankings for 2012! The Academic Dean can of course be very proud of his cursus. As usual let’s have a look at the numbers …

14So, Vlerick Business School is at the 14th position, a stable position on a 3 years average (up from 16th last year however). There are of course big names before Vlerick: HEC Paris (2nd), London Business School (3rd), INSEAD (4th), IMD (7th), etc. But there are also big names after Vlerick: Cranfield (16th), Imperial College (18th), ESSEC (19th), London School of Economics (27th), etc.

Compared to other Belgian business school, Vlerick is better placed (than for the EMBA rankings e.g.):

  • Antwerp Management School is climbing from an average 52nd to the 40th rank;
  • Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management goes down from a 42nd to the 46th rank;
  • IAG-Louvain School of Management goes down from a 52nd to the 59th rank.

So if I take again my table from the previous “ranking” post (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 2012 14 (=) 40 (↑ av. 52) 46 (↓ av. 42) 52 (↓ av. 59)
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

The methodology used by the FT is well explained. There you will learn that this ranking assesses the performances of 4 MBA programs in each school. And it looks at the breadth but also quality of these programmes. So indirectly it represents the aggregate of lots of parameters (see here for the list on Vlerick). But is seems to put some emphasis on the salaries (at program entry and after) as well as the number of female, international and PhD faculty.

So – back to the title – should I worry? ;-)

Well, just go to the previous post about rankings and read the conclusion ; I haven’t changed since. But congrats anyway to the Vlerick team for this good performance!

Photo credit: 14 by xiaming, on Flickr (licence CC-by-nc-sa)

Thank you, partners!

I have a confession to make: I never really believed in the MBTI profiling as a whole. Some parts of it can be very useful in order to understand some traits of personality (and act upon them). But definitely not the whole. IMHO. YMMV. But! (because there is alwaus a “but”) But I must admit that very organised people and very process-oriented people are great assets in a team. And I want to thank the very organised people I had the opportunity to work with recently for their relentless efforts to make our group papers a success. We all have strong and weak points. One of the strength very organised people bring is that they force the group to start to work early on the project, to have a clearly defined plan (even for a few pages or slides) and to stick to it. More “creative” people may find this annoying – but it works! So thanks for bringing this in the team!

A second category of people I want to thank are spouses/boyfriends/girlfriends. They first accepted we start this part-time MBA and they kept their anger quiet when they realised what meant “being absent 2 evenings a week (including Friday evening = no outings anymore) (and maybe more)”. They support us in case of doubts. For some they even support us financially (maybe not directly but 35k€ for an MBA is 35k€ you cannot spend on clothes, travels, outings, dinners, hi-tech gadgets, etc.). But they will anyway greet us with a smile when we come back after a whole evening (and part of the night) in class. And they also realise that if we started this MBA, it’s not to play the housewife/househusband after – with a fake smile they hint you they understood it will continue later. It may seems we are too preoccupied to notice but we are very well aware of all the sacrifices you are also doing and we thank you for your support and attention!

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Resuming operations

For someone who refused to accept the “no time” excuse in the past for not writing a blog, I have to admit I’ll have to use it now :-( Lots of things happened since last time I wrote about classes.

For instance we submitted our Statistics paper and got the results. These results are still composed of a grade from A to F (and as I wrote I will not post the grade distribution of the class) and an appreciation from the professor. If this appreciation was considered subjective in the previous years (independently of Statistics – this was valid for all courses), Vlerick tried to establish a grid where several criteria can be met or not in order to put some objectivity in the grade. It seems this grid disappeared – or at least it was not used for Statistics (as usual: it is not a complain, it’s just an observation).

Operation management classes ended with a bang materialised by 5 Pecha-Kucha group presentations. Some topics were more controversial than others. I also take as a key message that one absolutely has to test the presentation in a real setting before presenting. I personally also appreciated very much the very dynamic presentation of Roger Bloemen about the global supply chain strategy for Saflex at Solutia. IMHO this is the kind of presentation after which you tell yourself: “Damn! Maybe I should have done supply chain instead of ****** *********”.

remember to thank all the books you haven't read over the past three yearsSome other classes ended like EU business law (also with group presentation) or Communication Skills (maybe the most artistic “paper” we had to hand in – maybe the most confusing directions on what to do too, especially for people with scientific and engineering backgrounds).

And some other courses started. Like Innovation Management, EU integration, … An feeling that I have is that Vlerick has very young and dynamic professors. When they grow a bit older, they are less dynamic but very knowledgable and try to transmit their passion with more maturity. A third category of professors are older and teach us courses with less direct application (or do I have this feeling because I put Economics and EU professors in this category?).

We are now in December and there are still some nice milestones for the near future: an open-book exam for Operations, a video for Communication Skills. And then Christmas Party (for those who will attend) and holidays!

Photo credits: remember to thank all the books you haven’t read over the past three years by Natalia Osiatynska, under CC-by-nc-nd.

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)

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 …

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).

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

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