Get Down on It!

Do you fancy one last video for tonight? Here is a glimpse at a Friday evening for Vlerick Full Time and Part Time MBA students in Leuven :-) Thank you all for the cool moments!

Part-time -vs- Full-time MBA, PC -vs- Mac

Maybe I shouldn’t post this here but there is an awful lot of videos on YouTube about part-time MBAs (as well as official Vlerick videos and Vlerick alumni videos). Unfortunately for us, the two videos that came on top of my search for part-time MBA videos are spoofs of the funny set of ads “comparing” Mac to PC …


(If you don’t get the reference, watch this set of ads)

This allows me to jump on the next topic of investigation I was eager to discover: what is the most common computer platform used by PT MBAs at Vlerick? Well, I cannot say for sure since I didn’t had a chance to look at the computers used in the other PT classes or in the FT class. But in Apollo, there are 100% of MS-Windows laptops and there are most of the time given by the workplace: there are ugly, text-only, black-on-white stickers with all the characteristics of/on some computers. OK, one of our students reps has a sleek, black, sticker-free laptop (Dell if I remember correctly). And it’s still a MS-Windows PC.

Vlerick IT infrastructure is also MS-Windows, kiosk PCs all around the campus run Windows 7. The networked content is managed by MS-Sharepoint and the webmail login goes through and make hundreds redirections in the Microsoft cloud infrastructure.

So: no Mac, no Linux. But …

But, if you look at what people have in their pockets, you’ll see a totally different ecosystem. There are at least 2 iPads, lots of Blackberries, many iPhones and many Android (and oh yes, only one Windows phone). This sample (as well as the computer sample) is largely biased by the fact that these devices are for professional use (by that I mean: given by the day job). But there is still a trend: MS-Windows on the desktop/laptop and Android/iOS in the pockets.

What also surprised me is that no one is actually taking notes directly on their laptop. I agree the two current topics (economics and financial accounting) are accompanied by good textbooks and aren’t really suitable for electronic note-taking. I wonder if this will be the same in other topics.

Back to school

Reaching the impossibleToday we are going back to school! My mom didn’t take a leave to accompany me to Leuven but I think I’ll be able to cope with that ;-) If I’m not tired after a day of meetings and classes I’ll write my impression here.

One more time, I was impressed with the Vlerick logistics: my issue regarding access to the students website was solved in 4 hours even at 9pm! And when you access this site, you see that we are 47 registered students in the Apollo 2012 class with a huge majority of men (81%). From discussions with alumni, it seems that this is a bit more students than the usual 30 cited (but it was more a recollection than an exact figure).

Thanks to the various API social networks developed, it’s very easy to look at the background of most students. Please be aware that the following analysis can’t 100% accurate since people are still putting what they want on social networks. In some cases, the names are also too common (like “Jean Dupont” or “John Smith”) to be able to get correct results without sorting them manually. These numbers are not at all official. If you are looking for official figures, please read the MBA student profiles for part-time or full-time programs on the Vlerick website. Also note you won’t get any confidential information here: I share here the result of my curiosity. Again, if you want official numbers or trends, go ask Vlerick.

Only 2 people don’t have a LinkedIn profile (5 students have too many names associated with their names). Most students who listed a location on LinkedIn either live or work in the Brussels area (62% ; LinkedIn doesn’t impose which type of location to enter). Other main areas are Antwerp (21%), Liège (8%) and just “Belgium” (8% too). It isn’t strange there is no one from Ghent, the 2nd most-populated city in Belgium, since Vlerick is also organizing the same part-time MBA in Ghent. However I was expecting some students from Namur or even Leuven itself. But people living or working there maybe considered other masters in management organized by other universities/schools. Note that there isn’t any student from outside Belgium because I assumed they (we) need to live or work in Belgium in order to attend evening classes in Leuven.

When you look at company sectors (see chart below), most students seem to come from IT (26%), followed by pharmaceutical or health-related companies (16%; this will be interesting for me). Then come transport/infrastructure (11%) and telecom (8%). This is very different than official numbers for full-time MBA and slightly different than numbers for part-time MBA. But I can’t tell if this is due to some evolution or if I just split company sectors differently (on top of the fact I’m relying on LinkedIn data and only on students of Apollo 2012).

Vlerick PT-MBA Apollo 2012 company sectors

In order to test the six degrees of separation idea, I checked to how many students I was connected and by how many degrees. Although I don’t know any of them, I was surprised to be a 2nd degree contact of 7 students and a 3rd degree contact of 14 of them. When you dig into these relationships, you see it’s mostly through recruiters / headhunters than actual or previous work relations.

If you go on Facebook, you’ll see that nearly 80% of the students of this class have a Facebook profile. And one can see that most people care about their privacy since only 2 profiles are public. All other profiles are either somehow limited or completely private (one can only see the profile picture and the name).

Google Plus still seems to be quite young since only 4 people have a profile on this platform (and usually there isn’t much information except a profile picture, a name and a gender). Only two people with a Google Plus profile actually work in IT.

This quick-and-dirty analysis confirms that it is more and more difficult to avoid “being known” on the web. When running my simple queries, I was astonished at the simplicity of collecting personal data but also by the amount of information people are voluntarily putting on the web! Without using specialized services, what other questions would be interesting to ask to social networks?

Photo credits: Reach the impossible 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

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