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“My take-away: if you want to start a business today, don’t wait until tomorrow”

“My take-away: if you want to start a business today, don’t wait until tomorrow”

The Management Acceleration Programme literally shifted Lorenz Cocquyt's career into a higher gear. For this young manager, the programme was the decisive push to go abroad. Lorenz will soon be leaving for the US to manage an ambitious SME plant.

Starting shot for a career

“I earned my degree in Industrial Engineering from Group T in Leuven. During the last year of my studies, I noticed an opening for a traineeship in industrial management at Greenyard, an international fruit and vegetable supplier. In their training programme, they combined the technical with the human aspect – which really appealed to me. Sitting behind the computer from morning to evening is not for me. I like working on the shop floor with people.”

“I started working at Greenyard four years ago. We packed frozen vegetables, 24/7, in several shifts. I oversaw production and worked on improvement projects. That was a very operational task. In that context, I also followed a number of training courses. But I wanted to further my education, in sales and marketing among other things. So, I discussed that with my supervisor – and I also immediately told her about the Vlerick programme especially for young managers. It seemed interesting to me, because it contained a good basis in various fields (in addition to operations), such as a module on leadership. Still, it was especially the third part – about entrepreneurship – that appealed to me. That’s always fascinated me. I also need that – to take things in hand and improve them.

dreaming of working abroad

“A quote from the entrepreneurship sessions at Vlerick has really stayed with me. A professor told us: ‘if you want to start a business, then you should do it now. Don't say: I'll do it in 5 or 10 years.’ If you really want something, then you have to begin today. That statement started me thinking. I had been wanting an experience abroad for some time – and now the time suddenly seemed ripe to look for an opportunity in concrete terms. I found it at Aluvision, where I recently started working.”

“Aluvision is a fast-growing global player in the stand construction niche. Our company, managed by a very enterprising couple, is developing an aluminium plug & play system to quickly and ecologically build stands and event and audio-visual installations.” “Aluvision has 2 different plants: one in Deinze, where I am currently in training, and one in Atlanta. The factory in the US employs 25 people. I’m to go there with my girlfriend in September to provide operational management for a period of 3 years. I look forward to taking this ‘entrepreneurial’ step in my career. I will apply myself as if it’s my own company.”

1-on-1 coaching

“Of course, I still have points to work on. One is: I am someone who likes to change and move forward. But I sometimes forget that I also have to have my team with me. What good is a great idea if nobody wants to implement it? That was made very clear to me at Vlerick. In particular, I learned a lot from the 1-on-1 sessions. We worked in groups. Sometimes we did role-playing, or we were asked very direct questions: How would you handle situations like this? How do you think that that employee feels about this? How else could you solve this? That was very confronting, but also very enriching. For example, I also learned how to strengthen the bond with your own supervisor. And why it’s good to do that. These are very useful things that you don't always think about.”

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Business is not a game

 “Another thing: at Vlerick, I finally really understood the relationship between marketing, finance, sales and operations. All those domains play a role in your business operations. From my work experience, I’ve become quite an expert in Operational Excellence. But I realized during the programme that that is one strategy among others.”

“At a certain moment, we played a business board game, in which all those elements came together. For example, I saw how ‘my company’ outdid others in the operations domain. But because they had studied their sales much better, they still got a lot farther than me. Very fascinating, that dynamic! The feedback from fellow participants during such interactions was also very valuable.

Entrepreneurship is a school

“We further deepened understanding around entrepreneurship in a new venture project. During the year, we had to bring a start-up to life – which makes you experience very concretely the difficulties associated with starting up a project. You also experience how a team works. Some people contribute a lot, while others do not honour their agreements. You have to learn to deal with that as well.”

“For me, entrepreneurship is a learning process. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. I think it's important to be open about that. That's how you keep on learning. But you don't do that on your own. Sometimes you need people who make you face the facts, people with more experience and knowledge. During such a programme, you encounter such people many times.”

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