Word from the dean

Dear Vlerick friend,

Philippe HaspeslaghWelcome to the new-look Vlerick reflect. This is the first issue to appear since our rebranding on 12 September, when we changed our name to simply Vlerick Business School. Why? Because the old name was hard to convey to an international audience, not to mention a bit misleading with our additional campuses in St Petersburg and Brussels. But rest assured, we are still THE business school of UGent and KU Leuven, collaborating more than ever with our parent universities. The renaming is only one small part of our rebranding, which introduces a whole new look and feel and a brand-new website. And in the spirit of our more positive mindset, we’ve decided to step up our visibility and go against the grain of our Flemish modesty by being more outspoken and direct about what we have to offer.

We are in a business that is based on reputation, because for students and managers, choosing a business school is a big - often one-time - decision. Trust in the brand is important.

It’s not easy to differentiate yourself in the competitive and fragmented world of business education. As you will read in this issue, we worked with professional partners to find out where we are seen to stand out. Being international is merely a qualifier for a top business school. We are certainly well on the way, with fifteen nationalities represented among our faculty already, and more than forty programmes outside Belgium last year. What distinguishes us most, we were told, is how pragmatic we are, much more practice-oriented than most other schools, with our many partnerships with companies, our student projects, and our faculty members who do not stop at theory but help students to apply it in the real world. It was also stressed how open we are: besides being easy to work with in partnerships, we don’t advocate “one best way” but instead – no doubt because of our experiences in China and Russia – take the view that there are multiple truths in different contexts. Most striking, however, is the entrepreneurial vitality that students and executive participants experience on our campuses: Vlerick staff are an enthusiastic bunch on the whole, going the extra mile to serve the customer.

So, international, pragmatism, openness and vitality are the brand drivers around which we present ourselves, but which we’re also committed to living up to. To ensure this, we’ve spent a fair bit of time this year reviewing our programmes and revamping our organisation, because a brand is never stronger outside than how it is lived inside.

We are delighted that our alumni association has decided to join in with the rebranding – so that henceforth we’ll have one common visual identity and soon also a combined website, with new capabilities for interaction with our alumni, whom we will reach via a combined and updated database.

Many alumni know us as we were when they passed through the School. The rebranding will hopefully encourage them to catch up with what we have become and what we can offer today. And perhaps many who don’t know us will be intrigued by the stopping power of the “Enjoy Change” campaign we’ve launched. Change is a necessary medicine that Vlerick itself certainly takes in a healthy dose. Because without proactive change, schools – like all organisations – cannot thrive.

The Vlerick team is energised by the new identity, which builds on our past. We hope you will join us as ambassadors of the brand, because the business community needs a school that, like Vlerick Business School, opens minds for a better business world.

Philippe Haspeslagh
Dean, Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School

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