What do you do as the academic director of the Brussels Executive MBA?
My main task is to ensure the academic quality of the programme. But I’m ultimately responsible for all aspects of the programme. So participants see me from different angles depending on where they are in the programme – from very early on when they apply and attend info sessions about Vlerick’s Executive MBA, up to graduation when I am the one who hands them their degrees. And then I’m also a professor of operations management, so they see me as a professor in the course, too.
What is your own background as an expat?
I’m originally from Iran and came here nine years ago to teach at Vlerick. I found Vlerick a good place to join as a lecturer because it’s a school that is very close to the real world of business. And the fact that they really turn knowledge into action and action into knowledge very much appealed to me.
Why should people from outside of Belgium consider an Executive MBA at Vlerick?
Our Executive MBA is offered in a central location in Europe. Brussels is the hub of Europe. It’s centrally located, so potential European candidates can easily find their way here. It’s very easy to get to by train, by plane, etc. At the same time, it’s not a local programme; it’s a very international programme because people reach us from different corners of the world. That’s one of the reasons that being in the centre of Europe is going to help. Location is important.
Being an expat yourself, what do you think the programme has to offer expats in particular?
For expats who are already in Belgium, I would say that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. They can so easily take advantage of the fact that a world-class education is being offered in the country where they live. I have lived as an expat, and I know it’s a luxury to live in an area close to a Financial Times-ranked school. In terms of people who are not already in Belgium, I would say that Vlerick offers a programme that is very flexible and convenient. Because expats are often busy with their careers and do a lot of travelling, it’s an incredible benefit to have a programme that is easy to fit into your schedule; you only have class two full days every three weeks.
Why does it matter that Vlerick’s Executive MBA has made it onto the Financial Times ranking?
The Financial Times ranking is the most important ranking in the world of business education. So although other rankings exist, anyone who is looking to choose the right educational institution will always first look at the Financial Times. Vlerick Business School’s ranking is first in Belgium and second in the entire Benelux.
How heavily should prospective participants weigh Vlerick’s accreditations?
There are three accreditations for Executive MBA programmes. There is the AACSB, the AMBA and the EQUIS. And we have all three. That is not something that many programmes in the world can claim. Out of the 6,000 Executive MBA programmes that exist worldwide, only a few of them are triple-accredited. So wherever participants go in the world, their degree will be recognised.
What about expats who move here for their partners’ careers? Is this programme a good fit for them?
There are many people who are following their family when they come to Belgium. Those people leave a career behind to come here. This is one opportunity for them to use the time that they have here for their own professional growth. In their next move, they’ll then be able to put the benefits of this education to work for them. We think it’s very important to provide that kind of education for people who are here for the professional reasons of their partners and not necessarily for their own.
How can participants be sure that Vlerick’s Executive MBA programme will suit them?
This is not a programme that is only for economists and engineers. Our participants have very colourful backgrounds, and the programme fits all their needs. We have politicians; we have artists; we have medical professionals, lawyers, scientists, diplomats, military professionals. They all join the programme, and they all take advantage of what is offered.
So that’s an important element – to know that the people who are going to sit next to you do not necessarily have the same profile as you. They’re going to be very interesting people who you probably haven’t had a chance to meet before, and now you actually have a chance to get to know them well.