An Israeli expat living in Brussels, Ofir Raz is currently a Custom Research Analyst at the Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS). He is also one year into his Online MBA programme at Vlerick.
Ofir works in corporate governance consulting and advising institutional investors. He enjoys his work – but also wants to take his skills further.
“For me, an MBA made a lot of sense,” he says. “I wanted to enhance my business knowledge – and improve my standing, both as a professional and as an individual. And I knew an MBA would give me the holistic business overview I wanted. I also thought it would improve my prospects – MBA graduates have a lot to offer.”
Ofir looked at a number of programmes – and ultimately decided on Vlerick. He says: “It was important for me to choose a school with a strong reputation and good study package. And Vlerick was a great fit.
“I also really appreciated the flexibility Vlerick offers, because I wanted to be able to study alongside my family commitments and my full-time job. Other schools didn’t have the same level of flexibility.”
Almost a year into the programme, Ofir is thoroughly enjoying exploring new areas of business.
“We’re currently doing negotiation,” he says. “It’s something I don’t have any experience of, and it’s really interesting. There are so many practical elements.”
Ofir also likes the programme’s emphasis on leadership skills. “The first module you do is on leadership – and personal development is ongoing throughout the MBA,” he says. “Vlerick make an effort to develop you as a manager, but also as a person. Teaching softer skills alongside traditional business areas such as accounting gives you a really comprehensive overview of business and a well-rounded skillset.”
As well as learning a great deal in his courses, Ofir is finding he is learning from his classmates too.
“There are people from many different business backgrounds. It’s amazing – everyone brings a unique perspective. You have your niche – for me, it’s corporate governance. Then you meet people from sectors like supply chain management, healthcare, law. This adds so much value to discussions. It’s also helpful to see how people perceive business depending on their cultural influences.”
Ofir has noticed several differences between the MBA and his university experience – and the focus on group work is one of them.
“A really positive element of the MBA is the time we spend in groups,” he says. “We meet via video, do assignments, have discussions. It’s a very valuable tool. We get to know each other, test our team work skills and try out different ways of working. The dynamics of the group don’t always work – but this reflects a real business setting, which is very important.
“On an MBA, everyone has both professional and life experience to draw on. You see that right away. There is also a real focus on practicality – you hear from expert speakers and study real life cases. It’s hands-on in a way that other programmes aren’t.”
A flexible programme was a must for Ofir – and has proved essential for him. Earlier this year he welcomed a baby daughter – and Vlerick’s flexibility meant he could take a study break to spend time with his family. But he acknowledges that the programme is a big commitment.
“Of course, it can be very busy,” he says. “Working in groups can be challenging if people are in different time zones or their schedules aren’t aligned. The workload is intense – but manageable. And the important thing is you know the outcome you’re working towards.”
Ofir is working full-time alongside his studies – which means he can put new skills and approaches into practice as soon as he learns them.
“This is a real advantage of doing the Online MBA,” he says. “Gaining a holistic overview of business has really helped me develop how I see my role within the company. And many of the courses have been useful so far. For example, I learned a great deal in Accounting. And in HR, we explored interviewing skills. I’ve been involved in recruitment recently, so I got to put these practical techniques to work.”
Ofir has already seen the value his MBA is contributing to his work – and he hopes it will set him in good stead for the future.
He says: “When I graduate, I want to be able to move up in my company. I’ve learned a lot already – and I’m eager to learn more and grow my knowledge and experience.
“I’d certainly recommend the Online MBA. What I really like about the Vlerick programme is that it doesn’t try to imitate a face-to-face MBA. It is a unique online experience. If you’re looking for an MBA from a top school, that takes its participants seriously and offers lots of flexibility – then Vlerick could be the right choice for you.”