Competitive advantage

Vlerick MBA boasts of its student diversity. Its not without a reason. There are only 46 students in class this year and yet this group represents 19 countries. Interestingly, the number of nationalities is not what contributes most to the diversity in class. More than 40 percent of the students have not lived in their own country for the past 5 years! Its amazing to see Japanese and Polish students speak with each other in Italian while Belgians and Chinese converse in Chinese. Students from US have spent the past 18 years in Tokyo. My guess is that such a diversity (or lets call it the density in diversity) would be very hard to match. The work experiences are just as diverse too; Lawyers, Scientists, Accountants, Journalists, Venture capitalist.. you name them. If that is not sufficient, there is even a student from the army!

With such diversity, I was dissappointed that through out the first week, there were hardly six to ten students participating in class (The picture is completely different, as you may guess, after a month). Its not that students did not participate in class discussion, but if I were to guess the stage time of each student during class discussions, the ten students took up nearly 60 percent of the time. However, outside the class, everybody talked to everybody; everybody had an interesting point of view.

I wondered why was it then that students did not talk much during the first week. I wondered if they were just getting used to the new environment, if they wanted to guage the others or if they just didn’t like the first course. After all that analysis, I’ve concluded that the answer is rather simple. The six to ten students who participated most during the first week (me included) were from english speaking countries or spoke excellent english. Its amazing how the competitive advantage shows itself in the shortest possible time : )


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