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An “oh wow!” week on the MBA

An “oh wow!” week on the MBA

Carlos is currently participating in Vlerick’s full-time MBA programme.

I’m part-way through my MBA. And so far, the programme has been enlightening – full of both “a ha!” moments and “oh wow!” moments.

And a few weeks ago was definitely an “oh wow!” week. First, we took the Business Value with (Big) Data and AI course. In a nutshell, Professor Philippe Baecke showed us how data-driven technology will affect many, if not all, business models in the future.

It was an overwhelming reality check that made everyone think: How is this going to affect the industry I work in? My background is in civil engineering. So since the course, I’ve been thinking about whether real estate and urban planning will be able to keep up the pace when the imminent digital data revolution happens…

Cities need to adapt

According to The UN, 68% of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2050. That’s another 2.5 billion people in our cities – with 90% of those in Africa and Asia. Is the world ready to deal with this? Does it have the resources to manage migration, transport, waste, pollution and water quality?

It’s clear that to cope with what the future will bring, cities need to evolve. And this evolution will happen through technology. We’re already seeing smart cities that have the technology – including IoT, automation and robotics – to capture data and use it to become more adaptable and resilient.

How cities will go about becoming smart will depend on physical, social and economic factors – no two cities are alike. But authorities need to remember that to work, technology needs to be integrated. Having “smart areas” won’t make a city smart – it all needs to be connected.

Suffice it to say, Professor Philippe Baecke has given me plenty to think about!

Going inside a tech giant

To top off this fantastic week, we had the incredible opportunity to visit Google’s Brussels office. We listened to a lecture about big data, AI and the ethics behind it from the team at Google and people from ML6 – Belgium’s fastest growing AI company.

It was great to explore a little of what Google is all about and get to know its business model and culture. It’s impressive how creative they are for a tech-driven company – it shows you should never think you’re too technical or too serious to be creative. And the work ML6 is doing is mind-blowing – machine learning and automation aren’t just things from sci-fi films, they’re real-life business tools.

We got to see all the advances they’ve made so far and what they are developing right now – from health and banking solutions to self-driving cars. It left me wondering, if they are showing us all of this, how much aren’t they showing us? It’s definitely an exciting time to be living in.

Life-changing experiences

Going to Google was an amazing experience. Technology is changing so quickly that even when you think you’re up-to-speed, there’s so much you don’t know about. Having experiences like this is one of the things I’m most grateful to Vlerick for. The full-time MBA is making us aware of what’s out there and what the world is all about. We’re learning we need to be adaptable, responsible and ready to embrace change.

I’m still undecided about where my career path will take me. But I’m excited to see how all of the trends we’re learning about on the MBA will affect my future. And I can’t wait for the next “oh wow!” moment.

Written by Carlos Ramírez Sandí

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