Friday, November 09, 2007

Vlerick Business School - The Wall Street Journal Europe - HR Executive Round Table

My first event in the new function at The Wall Street Journal Europe. I inherited the WSJE educational platform which includes the exciting possibility to build strong relationships with top universities and business schools all over Europe. The Wall Street Journal is currently delivered to some 170 universities and business schools across Europe. As part of our Future Leadership Program I hosted a Human Resources Round Table for international MBA and master students at the Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School, campus Leuven. It was for the first time I experienced the strength of our brand when contacting several companies with the question to participate at the HR Round Table. Finally HR executives from 6 major companies agreed to join the event.

For me it was a step back in the past because I used to study in Leuven and right on the spot where the Vlerick school was recently constructed, was in fact a famous student theater. I remember vividly how I witnessed the introduction of modern dance in Belgium, in that student theater, some 20 years ago.
Today it is a famous building again, but this time because of the Vlerick brand. What I learned from the students was that they questioned the big companies on their work-life/family balance. The 6 speakers agreed that their personal balance was not exemplary for a healthy work-life/family balance. But all companies assured that they had programs in place taking into account the desire of contemporary employees to strive for a healthy mix of work and family time. The extreme difference in amount of holidays between the European and American companies at the table caused a sigh from the international audience.

Another thing I learned from the HR execs was that it was not the Vlerick brand on the student's CV that was going to favour someones candidature (extreme silence in the audience and here and there disbelief), on the contrary, most important factor was and is the student's personality.

From right to left:
Gert Van Mol, standing, for The Wall Street Journal Europe, introducing the speakers
Pierre Devillers, Electrabel-Suez, HR manager Belgium-Luxembourg
Flor Boeckx, Dupont, HR Manager Belgium - The Netherlands
Romain Verdurmen, 3M, HR, Legal Affairs & Facilities Manager
Avinash Chandarana, MCI, Director of Talent and Development
Robin Koopmans, Borealis, HR Area Manager
Philippe De Bock, Telenet NV, HR Talent Management and Recruitment

(Picture: ©Mary Roll, Vlerick)