Thursday, April 24, 2008

Preparing Seminar at The London Business School

I'm working together with the Football Club of the London Business School (LBS) to organize a WSJE-LBS Seminar on Football and Business. The seminar is part of the further development of The WSJE Future Leadership Institute. We originally planned to have the 'event' at the final of the Champions League, i.e. May 21, so we could have ended the event with a live session of the final on a big screen. However one of the key note speakers is attached to a club that might end up playing the final. If that would be the case the speaker wouldn't be able to attend. Therefore we moved our seminar to May 29.

In working towards the final the students of the football club asked me to sponsor the games (quarter finals, semi finals etc) leading up to the final. They asked money for each game. I asked why they needed money for each final. "To buy beer", they said. Our policy is not to pay cash for sponsorship deals. But I understood their 'need'. It led me to contact a friend at a Belgian brewery to discuss sponsorship with Belgian beers. I quickly closed a deal, until the moment it became clear the beer had to be delivered in London. The taxes to be paid to import the beer in the UK were so hefty the brewery decided against the sponsoring. But I already had promised the Belgian beer to the students. I had no other choice than to call in a favor of another friend at a beer wholesale factory, hide a superb collection of Belgian beers in the trunk of my car, and deliver the beer myself. In the past, UK customs never ever inspected my car when I used the Eurotunnel so I thought it to be a safe strategy. Indeed, it worked. On the way back to Belgium however I was asked to pull over at Eurotunnel, five custom agents came out and strip searched the car. They even took a drug sample from the seating. Luckily my car was clean...and empty.

(Picture: The President (r) and his team of the London Business School Football Club receiving a collection of Belgian beers)

25th anniversary The Wall Street Journal Europe at the Gherkin

Two events in 1 go (April 16, 2008):
1. The Wall Street Journal Europe invited clients, readers and other VIPS to celebrate the 25th anniversary at the Gherkin in London. We rented both top floors, to accommodate the guests. Spectacular 360° view on London. A bit noisy because of the dome effect but certainly a place to impress your guests with.

2. For first time in history of The Wall Street Journal, the US version will be printed in London. At the moment WSJ will only be sold in the financial district of London. That means that in that area both WSJ and WSJE will be sold as separate products. In the rest of Europe we will still be selling WSJE.

Les Hinton, the new CEO of Dow Jones (former The Times) joined the party. He said we could be printing and selling WSJ also in other financial districts across Europe in the future.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

4th Annual Oxford Private Equity Forum, Said Business School

January 18, 2008: WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management, Valendar, Germany. The student body organizes their Campus for Finance. At the event I meet an MBA student from Said Business School Oxford University, Sebastian Wilde. He explains to me that the students at Oxford Business School organize a yearly
Private Equity Forum in April. He invites me to collaborate with the WSJE Future Leadership Institute. I end up sponsoring the event with copies and attention in my daily educational box in the newspaper. It is for the first time I see the box work like it was intended to work. In the upper part of the box I can highlight a seminar that perfectly fits the goal of the WSJE Future Leadership Institute, i.e. bridging university and industry, and in the below part I can publish the logo of Vlerick Business School as supporters of our Future Leadership Program. The box looks great.

About the event: Again I am so fortunate to be able to attend such events. My blood itches in my veins when I see students put together a quality event. It reminds me of my days at University. The audience (275) could listen to some very good speakers in the Nelson Mandela Lecture Hall, one of them Khaled Said, son of Mr. Said who gave his name to the Oxford Business School. There were only 2 sponsors, Deloitte and The Wall Street Journal Europe, both of which received a sufficient amount of attention and exposure. All details were being taken care of. The synergy between the WSJE brand and the Said Business School brand is so obvious when you look back at this event.

Friday, April 11, 2008

INSEAD Leadership Summit 2008

In the last 8 weeks I met 3 business men who referred to their Insead past as part of their current success. The most interesting story came from the entrepreneur who found a 3 million Euro investment for one of his new companies thanks to the Insead Alumni society.

I feel privileged that my work for The Wall Street Journal Europe leads me to attend such venues as The INSEAD Leadership Summit (invitation only). I don't think I attended an event the past year with an audience of this magnitude. Insead clearly attracts the c-suit to come and spend the day together in Fontainebleau. Keynote speakers, food, drinks, auditorium: all from an exceptional level. The event ended with a gala diner at the Chateau of Fontainebleau in a setting that looked like a movie stage.

Paris Jungle

Meeting the extremely well connected TF again in the heart of Paris. Besides the fact he is interested to help me develop the Future Leadership Institute by opening a few doors to people, he is also a connoisseur of Paris' history and architecture.
He is
the sort of person that knows the owners and staff of all good shops in his neighborhood by name.

He invited me to his home office built on the roof of a prestigious appartment block in the center of Paris. He has a small terrace attached to the office, and when you step outside and look down, you look on the roof of the house of ... d'Artagnan.

One of the entrances of his building leads to a small alley, and ends up in a piece of South American jungle with an old wooden construction, a former house of a painter, dating back to the days the regio was in hands of poor artists. Suddenly the sound of the city has vanished. You only hear the wind in trees and birds. Today it is one of the most expensive areas of Paris, where you not only find the appartment of Katherine de Neuve, but also the best baker of Paris, Mulot.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Wonderful meeting at Access MBA Tour Brussels

The current sponsor of my ETP (Executive Travel) Program is the Paris based company Access MBA. They organize one-to-one meetings between candidate MBA students and potential business schools across Europe. Imagine a big room in a splendid hotel, 8 tables representing 8 business schools and a line-up of potential MBA candidates visiting the business schools matching their profiles best.

Today one of the Access MBA tours landed in the Stanhope hotel in Brussels. When I visited their event I noticed two gentlemen representing the Louvain School of Management, an upcoming business school based at the University Catholic de Louvain (UCL)(not to be mistaken with the Catholic University of Leuven, KULeuven).

I also noticed the Louvain School of Management with a big stand at the European Business Summit in Brussels a few weeks ago. They are clearly on the move.

Tonight I met one gentleman of this business school at a coffee table, exhausted from an afternoon filled with interviews. He clearly thought I was another MBA candidate, waiting to be interviewed. But when I told him I actually worked for The Wall Street Journal Europe, and that I came to support a partner, his face lit up like a flare.

"The Wall Street Journal Europe ??", he asked.
"Yes", I responded.
“Sir”, he said, “The Wall Street Journal Europe is the best business newspaper I know. I am a subscriber since I don’t know when, probably since 1989 I think."

The man turned out to be Professor Charles P. Van Wymeersch, Professor of Accounting and Finance at The University of Namur, part of the UCL.

He told me the following things about his love and fascination for WSJE:

  • He reads the the paper every day, that is ....when he receives it. He lives in Namur, Belgium, and sometimes he gets the newspaper only after 2 or 3 days, thanks to the 'efficient' Belgian postal system. But still then he loves to catch up with the business news because of the particular WSJE angle.
  • The compact format is a big plus.
  • He likes WSJE because we have longer articles that tend to dig deeper than articles in other papers.
  • FT he finds 'irrelevant' when you have read WSJE.
  • He learned about the WSJ in the US when he studied there for his MBA.
  • If he had to chose between the WSJE and the WSJ (US version) in Europe, he would definitely chose for the current WSJE. The WSJ (US) version is 'irrelevant' for a European audience.
  • He spends about 30 to 50 min reading the WSJE every day although he would love to have more time to read the paper.
  • He almost always starts his lessons at the University with The WSJE. He uses the WSJE as his most important education tool in the classroom.
  • He absolutely dislikes reading newspapers on a screen.
  • Unfortunately he will be forced to buy an online subscription when he retires in a few years time because he will not be able to pay 400 Euro’s for a normal print subscription (today he says he has a ridiculously cheap university subscription).
  • A quote we should frame in our offices: “ I always tell my students it is better to read The Wall Street Journal Europe for 2 hours, than to come to class and listen to me for 2 hours. You probably learn more by reading this newspaper.”

Top: Access MBA Tour at Stanhope Hotel Brussels
Bottom: Professor Van Wymeersch, long time WSJE subscriber

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

1 week in Austria

I remember Vorarlberg from my distribution days at The Wall Street Journal Europe. It was a region our Austrian distributor asked permission for each year to open up in wintertime for possible WSJE readers on the ski slopes. I am here with 6 children and two women and sometimes I understand the pitifull look I get from other men.