Learning with a competitive edge during the AXA-Vlerick Insurance Challenge

In mid-March, Professor David Veredas and AXA organised an Insurance Challenge. Within the space of one week, our Masters students in Financial Management had to set up their own insurance company. Along with AXA experts and David himself, they discovered the risks and balances of the insurance industry. Knowledge in action, together with our Global Community Partner AXA.

The AXA-Vlerick Insurance Challenge is a business simulation game, enhanced with theory lectures and keynote presentations by AXA professionals. The game involves dividing the students into four groups, each one an insurance company in a competitive market. For four days, students become the Executive Committee. They take decisions about all aspects of the company: strategy, asset management, marketing, pricing of life and non-life products, back office, distribution channels, and solvency.

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AXA Vlerick Insurance Challenge

‘Masters students need to get out of the campus’

The “guide” during the week was David Veredas, Professor of Financial Markets: “Business school Masters students who are aiming to work in the financial industry need to get off campus. Interactions with the industry are fundamental to leverage their education and better appreciate the added value of a Master’s degree in their future professional careers.”

‘AXA needs to be inspired by these digital natives’

David’s “counterpart” for the game at AXA, CIO Giovanni D’Aniello, underlines the win-win of this interaction: “In order to be successful in our transformation as an insurance company, we need to open up our ecosystem to key partners like Vlerick and be inspired by these digital natives. They represent the new workforce generation. When we hire Vlerick Masters students, we not only expect them to bring their knowledge, but most of all their personality and their diagonal view of what the future can hold for us.

David Veredas: “The students are the focus in class, not the professor.”

The learning journey at Vlerick

This business simulation game is one of the many faces of learning innovation at Vlerick. “We believe in learning journeys, as opposed to traditional teaching journeys,” Professor Veredas explains. “The students are the focus in class, not the professor. If the students do not need the professor’s teaching in order to learn, so be it. That’s exactly what we did during the AXA-Vlerick Insurance Challenge. Apart from a few hours of lecturing, the students were on their own: playing the game, listening, discussing, calculating, deciding. My role was to facilitate learning and coach the groups on their decision-making. If we combine the game with practical keynote presentations by AXA professionals, arguably this is a very effective learning approach.

Giovanni D’Aniello: “Vlerick graduates are equipped to impact on huge transformations.”

Being an MBA alumnus himself, Giovanni D’Aniello has experienced first-hand how Vlerick offers the unique opportunity to look at the world with a fresh pair of eyes: “You understand better what is happening around you from an economic and business perspective. It equips Vlerick graduates to impact on and overcome huge transformations. When I did my MBA in 2001-2003, I was in the telecom industry, which was undergoing a major transformation at the time. Today, that peak of transformation has shifted towards the financial services and insurance industries, so here I am again in the eye of the storm because that’s where I get my energy from (smiles).”