Willem Beyen started his professional life in environmental science – and his role at a water treatment company took him all over the world. But after five years, he decided it was time for a new challenge. So he joined the Full-Time MBA at Vlerick – and now he’s taking his career in a completely new direction.
Fast-track to the corporate world
Willem says: “I wanted to broaden my horizons and get into business – an MBA seemed like the right next step. My technical background meant I had no clue about the corporate world – but an MBA gives you a good foundation really quickly. “Before I started at Vlerick, there were many subjects I’d never studied. Corporate finance was an eye opener for me. Accounting was another – it’s not sexy but it’s so important for business.
“I had so many great experiences in one year. There are lots of highlights, but one that stands out was the global social project. I teamed up with four people to go to Colombia. We were based in an arid area, where communities struggled to get around, grow crops and find fresh water. And our task was to explore entrepreneurial opportunities for local people. I could combine my experience from my previous role with my new MBA skills and make a real impact. It was absolutely fantastic.”
Finding a new career direction
“Exploring so many subjects really helped me make a decision about my next steps. The boot camps in particular are a great way to explore different business areas in depth. I was interested in strategy so I registered for the strategy consulting boot camp. It was a great decision. The professor, Martin Weiss, taught us the essentials of consulting – including structuring complex problems, telling a story with impact and presenting. We learned valuable insights from guest speakers. And we put all our knowledge into action on a real-life project. Having the opportunity to work on something real was so useful.
“I’m now working in strategy – so of course, it made a great impression on me!”
Gaining the skills to succeed in business
When he graduated from Vlerick, Willem became a strategy consultant. He now advises clients on how to tackle challenges, making recommendations, carrying out deep analysis and sharing market knowledge.
He says: “I use so many of the skills I gained at Vlerick – particularly structuring problems, presenting skills, storytelling skills and some corporate finance – every day. “I also draw heavily on what I learned about working in teams. This was a new experience for me at Vlerick, where the teams are always diverse. A mix of cultures gives different perspectives – you need to be open to other views. This is something I had to adapt to – but now I work in these types of teams all the time, it’s invaluable experience to have.
“There are so many similarities between the MBA and my current role. The MBA covers the whole breadth of business. And now I work with many industries and sectors, across business areas. So my year at Vlerick really did prepare me.”
Willem is enjoying his current role – but says one day he might like to own his own company. “I have that entrepreneurial spirit,” he says. “And the foundation and skills from the MBA will help too. I’d definitely recommend Vlerick to anyone considering an MBA. It helps you grow and decide what’s next. If you’re looking for a professional switch or a new challenge, it’s the perfect thing to do.”