“The Covid-19 period has shown what can be done by business schools in a virtual environment”, says Yolanda Habets, Head of MBA programmes at Vlerick Business School. “Vlerick already was a leading innovator in the field of utilising online learning in its programmes, and this has been accelerated even further by the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The shift to theory being taught through an interactive online platform and the applications and discussions around this theory dominating the classroom sessions is a move to maximise the practical peer-to-peer learning experience, according to Yolanda Habets. “Students want to get the most out of their experience on campus, networking with their peers, bouncing ideas of each other and learning from the interaction with professors and each other. It makes sense to ensure that all in-person sessions facilitate this, instead of students gathering in a room to simply study theory”. Martin Weiss, Professor of Strategy and Programme Director of the full-time MBA adds: “The interaction between the faculty and the students during the application of new concepts and frameworks truly boosts the learning effect.”
The redesigned full-time MBA will also group courses together in integrated modules. All modules undertaken in a semester will be relevant to each other and fit in with a specific topic area. There will be five modules, which include courses such as digital strategy, change management, business value with big data, CSR and innovation management.
The reason for the grouping of the modules is to strengthen the learning in these areas, offering a number of modules, company projects and other initiatives in each specific topic. “Ensuring that the modules are specifically grouped into key, essential learning areas for full-time MBA students will allow them to go much more in-depth into each key area of learning on the programme, taking a deeper dive into a whole topic at once”, says Yolanda Habets. “This allows us to overcome the usual silo-thinking with the traditional offering of an individual course. In the real world, those silos either don’t exist or – even worse – create significant problems for impactful management”, adds Martin Weiss.
Students will have the opportunity to take on various electives during the programme, such as strategy beyond markets, corporate crisis & restructuring, financing your own venture and more. Whilst the opportunity remains for students to immerse themselves on an international trip in Europe, engage in a two-month knowledge-in-action project within an organisation and play the Integrated Management Exercise (IMEX) business game.
The final change in the redesign of the Vlerick full-time MBA programme is a greater emphasis on both entrepreneurship and leadership; two skillsets the school sees as vital for MBA candidates to be able to create impact throughout their future career path.
“Entrepreneurship is much more than just starting your own business. It is an important mindset that is needed in every kind of organization, at every stage of their life cycle. It allows future leaders to identify and seize opportunities, to shape and develop cultures, and to help their organizations strive continuously!”, explains Martin Weiss.
Leadership development will be integrated throughout the programme, with the school offering a leadership journey that helps students build their leadership skills through numerous sessions and extensive leadership coaching throughout the whole year.
“The changes to the programme are all about optimising the time spent on-campus as much as possible, so students really get the best possible experience out of the programme”, says Yolanda Habets. “Ensuring that on-campus sessions allow maximum time for facilitation of discussions and networking, will really maximise the practical experience on the programme, whilst greater emphasis on leadership development and an entrepreneurial mindset, and the grouping of modules, will ensure candidates get as much in-depth knowledge as possible from all key MBA topics”.
These changes to the full-time MBA programme will begin from September 2021’s programme.