Grand designs

Student project Executive MBA - Maximum ROI for renovated Febiac offices

For those students doing an Executive MBA, it’s clearly best when their final-year project relates directly to their “day job”. Professor Filip Roodhooft, Research Director at Vlerick, confirms this point: “The final project should be useful for the company or organisation involved, and should adopt the right methodology and project approach.” This was certainly the case for the project of Pierre Hermant, who had to renovate the new Febiac offices and set up a corresponding business plan to maximise the return on investment.

Pierre HermantPierre Hermant did an Executive MBA in Leuven between 2008 and 2010. Earlier in his career he had worked for the European Business Summit, but – as is the way of the world – he was headhunted in 2009 by Febiac, the Belgian trade organisation representing the automobile and transport industry. As General Manager of the Brussels Motor Show, Pierre was made responsible for the Febiac office building in Sint-Peters Woluwe. “The building dates back to 1973, and was fully occupied up until the year 2000: Febiac used two floors and the rest was rented out. Sadly, the building had not been modernised, and so gradually the tenants had moved out, leaving the offices empty. Part of my new job was to renovate the building and make a business plan to maximise the ROI.”

Lamborghini desks

This specific task became his end-of-year project. The two floors to be occupied in the future by Febiac were renovated while Pierre generated his business plan for the rest of the building. While he’s no renovation expert, Pierre has quite some experience in real estate (privately) and was able to transform the old offices into a modern working environment with relative ease. He’s rightly proud of some of the details: “I quickly decided it was better to work with a designer rather than an architect. And it’s worked out well. Look here, these desks have been designed with the profile of a Lamborghini!”

Peers from all walks of life

“The strategy for the other parts of the building gradually became clear during my MBA,” Pierre adds. “Each aspect of the programme contributed something to making the project better. The strategy course taught me how important differentiation was, while marketing showed me how to build a costing system. I also had lots of conversations with my peers. They came from all walks of life, and each had a unique perspective. Of course, I had to prioritise what I could do – but ultimately all the big decisions were mine. I’m very happy with the final result.”

The results have certainly proved that good planning works. Since the building opened its doors for seminars and events in June 2011, it’s catered for more than 1,000 different functions.

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