The most important things we as a business school can perhaps bring…

Dear reader,

Your School has weathered 2009 well. Research-wise, we met all our KPIs, including a significant growth in academic output. Organisationally, we became stronger in both faculty and management. Financially, we succeeded in breaking even, with modest growth in the topline. I want to thank all of you who turned to Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School for your personal and organisational management development. Given the lag between economic recovery and corporate spending on training and development, it will be a feat to repeat this performance in 2010 as budgeted. But that is what we intend to do.

The latest issue of Vlerick reflect has Strategy as its main theme. Strategy courses in a business school serve a dual role. Strategy has become a discipline in and of itself, with concepts, tools and practices. At the same time strategy serves as the integrative force to bring a lot of what is taught in other disciplines together in the minds of our students. In real life there is no such thing as an important production or sales challenge. If a challenge is important, then it probably has many angles and cuts across several functions. The most important things we as a business school can perhaps bring participants is a general management point of view, a strategic perspective, a willingness to change and a bias for action.

In an interview, our Director General Patrick Degreve and I comment on the strategy of the School itself. Though the best strategies are simple, one also needs to deal with the complexity of one’s mission. And as a full-service academic business school with international ambition we are indeed complex, and stretching in many dimensions. Holding up our three business branches, which are degree programmes, open programmes and customised programmes, is a strong stem: an ambidextrous faculty of researchers and educators, nourished by the roots of multiple research for business partnerships. The pace of faculty development determines both our qualitative and quantitative growth potential.

In this issue you will find articles which cover the strategy research of our faculty. An interview with Visiting Professor Marcus Alexander examines corporate strategy, dealing with the logic of a portfolio of businesses and the value added (or destroyed) by the corporate level. Interviews with Professor Kurt Verweire look at business strategy, dealing with the quest for sustainable competitive advantage, and an interview with Professor Christopher Voisey explores international strategy, dealing with cross-border challenges and the dual identity of subsidiaries, both as part of the parent company and embedded in the local environment. You will also come across interesting Vlerick strategy cases. The ING Direct case is one such example. The Deloitte-Andersen merger case is another, commented upon by Rik Vanpeteghem, CEO of Deloitte Belgium.

You will get a feel for company-specific programmes such as the ‘Lead the Organisation Programme’, which Vlerick has been running for Dexia senior management since 2003, or open programmes like the MBA-FSI, which celebrated its tenth anniversary as a unique programme focusing on the general management of financial service firms.

Organisations cannot become great if they have no memory, because we all stand on the shoulders of those who gave their best before us. It is therefore more than appropriate, in conjunction with our January Board meeting, that the School has decided to honour Jean Van Marcke, who steered the School between 1991 and 1997, as Honorary Chairman; Eric Dejonghe, then COO of Barco, and Dirk Lannoo, VP of Kattoennatie, who gave time and energy to support the School, as Honorary Partners; and Roland Van Dierdonck, who from 1998 to 2007 laid the foundations that I benefit from, as Honorary Dean. We are sure you join us in saluting their contribution to your School.

Finally, to all of you in a position to recruit international talent: in June we will have another 250 Masters and 90 MBA graduates of forty nationalities looking to put their new-found skills and confidence to work. Why not take a look at their CVs at http://apply.vlerick.com/Recruitment?

All the best for 2010!

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