Zeshan Bhatti has had a varied career so far, with roles in retail, banking and finance. But after completing his Bachelors in Business Management and Finance, he decided he wanted to continue into a people-oriented role – and he knew an MBA was the right next step. So last September, he left his home in New York City to travel to Brussels and start Vlerick’s Full-Time MBA programme.
Seeking an international perspective
Zeshan knew straight away that he wanted to study in Europe. He says: “I did a Bachelors in Business Management and Finance so I already know how the US does business. I wanted an international perspective – and my research showed I’d get this at Vlerick.
“It’s up there in the rankings – and of course, it’s one of the few schools that’s triple accredited. But I also liked their approach. I’ve always been a more practical person than a books guy, so the hands-on curriculum was perfect for me. And Vlerick focuses on developing you as a person as well as teaching you how to do business. That’s what I wanted – and I’m so glad I was accepted.”
Four months in, the programme is already making an impact. “The first few months have definitely been intense… but they’ve been great too,” Zeshan says. “It’s opened my mind. Some people say doing a Full-Time MBA makes you miss your job – but I definitely don’t feel like I’m missing work. Vlerick makes sure of that!”
Discovering a passion for strategy
Before coming to Vlerick, Zeshan wasn’t sure where he wanted to take his career. But the programme has helped focus his thinking and he’s now interested to pursue a career in strategy.
He says: “Strategy is something I never really thought about before – I’ve never known how much goes into it. But it’s been the highlight of the MBA so far. I’ve discovered I already have some of the skills I need – and I’ll build on these during my electives and on the strategy boot camp. And our strategy professor Martin Weiss has such a great approach to every project.
“It’s surprised me how great all the faculty are. They’re so passionate about their fields, they make it so interesting and really make sure you understand and apply theory – not just remember it. They are all top-notch at what they do.”
There’s still a lot to come in the next few months. Zeshan is particularly looking forward to the two major projects that make up a big part of the MBA. “We spend two months within one organisation – I know I’ll learn a lot,” he says. “It’s great to have the opportunity to put everything you’ve learned to work in a real environment.”
Supporting a cause close to home
For his global social project, Zeshan plans to return to an non-profit organisation he helped set up several years ago – the Pakistani American Youth Society (PAYS).
He says: “I’ve done lots of volunteering for PAYS, but by going back there for my project, I can really dive deep into the organisation. With my new skills and business perspective, I hope to make a real impact. A couple of my classmates plan to join me too – having more minds working on challenges will be even better.”
There’s still a long way to go on the MBA journey – but Zeshan has only positive things to say about his experiences so far. “I feel so much more confident in my skills already – especially with how hands-on the MBA is. It really proves how much you’ve learned,” he says.
“There are no downsides – only upsides. Everything is a learning experience. I have no regrets and I’m so happy I came to Vlerick.”