As a Masters in General Management student, from next academic year onwards you will be able to opt for a specialisation in Business Analytics (BA). “Supplementing your general management skills with analytical skills will help you to become the data-savvy manager that everyone wants and progress through the ranks quickly.” Sound good? Professor of Business Analytics Philippe Baecke and Senior Career Advisor Wendy Lisarde answer five questions.
“No, an analytical mindset is more important”
Wendy Lisarde: “Our Masters in General Management traditionally has a very broad student profile: you might find an economist sitting next to a historian, who in turn is sitting next to a bioengineer or a law student. An important requirement for choosing the BA specialisation is not whether you already have these skills or have already taken analytical subjects. A more important question is whether you have an analytical mindset. Do figures give you a kick?”
Prof. Philippe Baecke: “I agree. Masters in General Management is open to everyone and the same applies to this BA specialisation. If you are inspired by the huge surge in popularity of BA and AI over the past 3 years, this specialisation is for you. Online courses will give you an introduction to programming languages such as SQL and Python, so that everyone will be more or less at the same level once the specialisation starts.”
“Because you will learn how to apply BA and AI in a variety of business domains”
Philippe: “As a business school, we have one foot in the business world. We know that companies are very keen to find business analysts and data scientists who can adopt a data-driven approach to searching for solutions and detecting opportunities. So, you shouldn’t expect a hard-core IT programme but a hands-on way of working with data, interpreting it, acquiring business insights and therefore becoming a strategic partner for both IT and management.
We also focus on machine learning and optimisation techniques for decisions that are too complex for the human brain. One example of this is how Google operates its data centres: how should we adjust the cooling systems in order to cool the data centres in the most energy-efficient way? Optimisation algorithms help to control the multitude of parameters automatically.
On the other hand, Vlerick has been focusing strongly on digital transformation – and BA and AI in particular – in numerous sectors and domains for many years now. This is clear from the initiatives we are taking within the Vlerick community, including the Centre for Excellence in Financial Leadership & Digital Transformation under the impetus of our colleague Kristof Stouthuysen, or the executive programme Creating Business Value with AI and Big Data that I myself developed. This BA specialisation, completes the circle for our Master’s students.”
“It opens many, many doors, and not just in consultancy, IT or technology”
Wendy: “McKinsey's research on the Future of Work describes the skill gaps in the labour market. The top 5 all involve analytical thinking and data analysis. Nobody can avoid data these days.
On the one hand, this specialisation will allow economists or engineers to add an extra layer to their profile, making them even more sought after in the fields of consultancy, IT or technology.
On the other hand, business analytics and AI have gained a different dimension in the last two or three years. They have become popular in a wide range of businesses too. For example, AI is used in the construction sector to automate quotations. AI is also increasingly being used in the justice system as a decision support tool for providing advice. Students are aware of these developments. Thanks to this specialisation in the Masters in General Management programme, a structural engineer or law student who wishes to explore this technology further will also discover many opportunities in these sectors.”
“Job fairs and a BA community”
Wendy: “During the careers fairs throughout the year, we connect students with companies that are specifically looking for data scientists. We are also playing with the idea of creating a Data Science Club, following the example of the Sales Club, where students and companies could interact more as a community.”
“The Masters in General Management specialisation is more technical”
Philippe: “In the Masters in Marketing & Digital Transformation, the analytical skills and techniques focus primarily on digital marketing tools such as Google Analytics, Google ads, Facebook ads, CRM, etc. In other words, customer-facing data. We also cover AI, but mainly from a marketing perspective.
The Masters in General Management specialisation is broader and more technical. Here, we will really dive deeper into the world of IT and data management, data science and models involving machine learning and advanced deep learning. We will apply all of this to areas such as strategy, finance, the supply chain, HR and so on.”
Curious to find out out more? Discover our Masters in General Management programme.