International Business in Context

International Business in Context: a small course of one evening, straight to the point and with three frameworks. Prof. Dr. Leo Sleuwaegen indeed presented the CAGE framework, Porter’s diamond and the ADDING logic (among other things). But the most interesting observation from this evening (imho) was not really there but in the striking difference between students from the Modular and Part Time MBA programmes.

All Modular MBA students were sitting in the center and on the right. All PT MBA students were sitting on the left (not everybody was there: the Corporate Financial Management exam of this Friday is maybe responsible for this). Only a few questions and interventions came from us. The Modular MBA were more outspoken, more direct, acting more like a group, wore more suits and positively interrupted the class several times. They were also more international (coming from Germany, Russia, Georgia, Columbia, India, Portugal, …). And since the Modular MBA lasts for 18 months (instead of 24),  they received more courses than we currently received. It was a fresh breeze :-) YMMV.

Back to International Business in Context, here is a short glimpse at the course:

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

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