Right time, right place… right programme

4 campuses, 4 stories - Modular MBA in St Petersburg

Russia has one of the world’s fastest moving economies so to be successful you need to be adaptable and innovative. It’s an approach that we’ve taken to heart with our modular MBA programme in Russia.

Serge HaywardAs Business Development Manager for Vlerick Russia, Serge Hayward is based at the St Petersburg campus where he is also Professor of Finance. His international background in consulting, teaching and academic research has given him a unique perspective on MBA degrees, enabling him to develop a strategy to improve the positioning of the Vlerick programme. “There are basically three demands from the Russian market in terms of MBAs,” he explains. “They have to offer good-quality Western education, use innovative approaches and have strong relevance for the Russian market. We believe Vlerick can meet the bill here on all three counts.”

Quality & innovative tools

For many Russians, Western education represents a certain standard of quality, a quality that has been long established and will be maintained. Yet although quality and reputation need to stem from yesteryear, the methodology cannot. “Russian business students are looking for something new, whether it concerns the programme design, ways of thinking, or guest speakers,” says Serge. “Russian business schools and universities are very advanced in this area and they expect the same from us. Students also want lots of interaction. Of course, what this means is that the programme has to be continually updated, so each year we need to tailor it to the group dynamics.”

Local market relevance

In terms of relevance to the Russian market, our MBA programme works hard to not only use the insight of our experienced Russian faculty, but also obtain case studies from local businesses, the students’ own employers and multinationals operating in Russia. “Corporate MBA candidates find it really interesting to work on a case study from their own company, and companies like to provide the material, as they know they will get something out of it in the end. We apply an inductive process, generalising the case details and integrating them into a module. This therefore serves as a specific example for a particular topic and becomes highly relevant for the local market. Guest speakers may be brought in to discuss the case study on the strength of their experience and the professors apply the relevant theories and draw conclusions. This process can then lead to new models, insights and even theories. Especially these days, when there are so many questions we don’t have answers to, this is an excellent way of developing the field you work in.”

Strong combination

“Bearing in mind the three demands for an MBA programme, there are almost no schools that provide all three at the same time. That’s where a massive opportunity lies for Vlerick. The market here is huge; it just needs the right approach. Vlerick is in the right place at the right time so I’m optimistic about our future here. There are Russian schools that are innovative and close to business reality, but they don’t provide the required quality assurance. And then there are Western schools that deliver quality, but either don’t use innovative approaches or have limited relevance to real-life business. Vlerick can combine all three strongly.”

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