Faye here, the Social Media Officer for the Westminster Business School! Last week, I was lucky enough to be sent out to Brussels to join the International Business Management (MA/MSc) course on their study trip. I boarded the Eurostar in the early hours of Monday morning, camera in hand and Instagram at the ready. Read on to find out how we all got on in this amazing city!

Why Brussels, Belgium?

Before I start, it is probably best to explain why the course decided to choose Brussels as their destination. With it’s 13th year of running at the Westminster Business School, it is not the first time the popular Postgraduate International Business Management (IBM) course have been to this beautiful Belgian city. This is due to Brussels’s connections with leading International corporations and for the fact that it is home to the main EU Institutions including the European Commission. Making this location the perfect place for students to develop their understanding of international business and provides a great backdrop for them to work on their exciting marketing projects.

Monday 30th November

I arrive at the IBIS hotel in Gare Du Midi Monday morning, where I’m welcomed into a room full of enthusiastic and excited students along with module leader Richard West, course leader Rebecca Wang and PhD Student and visiting lecturer, Chahna Gonsalves. Here, the students are being briefed on their project for the week which is to develop a brand and marketing strategy for a new chocolate product. Where better to develop a chocolate brand than in Belgium, home to the best chocolate!

After lunch we board the coach to make our way to Concept Chocolate, a unique chocolate company that launched in 2012, delivering high quality and personalised chocolate based in the heart of Brussels. We were lucky enough to enter through the chocolate factory doors and get an exclusive behind the scenes look at how the company produces it’s products. As soon as we stepped inside, the smell of chocolate was instant and we were swept away with the sugary fumes! Our tour guide and expert chocolatier talked us through their chocolate making process along with live demonstrations and tastings (a tough job, but someone has to do it.)

After the talk it was then time for the students to roll up their sleeves and make some chocolate of their own! Some came prepared with special moulds, packing and ingredients that they wanted to include in their products for their projects. Others used this opportunity to explore the market and see what creations they could come up with.

After we tried our hand at being a chocolatier for the day, it was time to package up our delicious creations, say goodbye to the factory and board back onto the coach ready for our dinner reservation at Chez Leon.

Tuesday 31st October

Halloween had arrived in Brussels, but it seemed the students were working too hard on their projects to notice! A well earned break was in order for the group, and what better than a trip to the famous European Commissions office. Here the students were welcomed by members of staff who happily talked them through the history of the European Commission and gave the group a chance to explore the impressive timeline in the lobby before heading into the boardroom.

The students received a fascinating presentation on how the European Commission operates within the EU, addressing it’s responsibilities from economy to sustainability. This was shortly followed by opening up the floor to questions from the group, which included a Brexit debate and offering feedback on how the European Commission should operate going forward.

After getting a chance to tackle real life issues within the European Commissions office, it was time to head back to the hotel so students could apply what they had learnt that day to their business models.

Wednesday 1st November

The day kicked off with a workshop lead by module leader Richard and PhD student Chahna to help the students with their upcoming presentations which would take place that Friday. Richard delivered some great advice on how the students should think about their target market, particularly creating certain personas to help focus their brands accordingly. This was then followed by a presentation on how NOT to do presentations by Chahna, which the class (and myself) found very amusing. After the workshop, students were left with some free time and thought what better way to spend it then by jumping on a train and taking the 1 hour long journey to the beautiful and historical Bruges! I joined the party, with my camera at the ready, and got to soak up the sights along with some of the course members. We ate, took pictures, laughed, ate, walked and ate… Overall, an amazing day!

Thursday 2nd November

Presentation day was drawing nearer and nearer, so to help tackle the nervous energy we boarded our trusty coach which took us to the Stella Artois factory! We promise, there is an educational point to visiting a brewery. From logistics to packaging, from production to marketing, what better company to learn from than a global beer company that dominates the market.

After the tour concluded, it only seemed right to test the actual product and so our tour guide invited us through to their special bar area where we were welcomed by two Stella Artois bar tenders. Everyone was handed a glass to enjoy which was then followed by a special masterclass on how to pour the perfect Stella Artois pint. Did you know it takes nine steps to pour the perfect one?! Neither did we, but now we’re all experts and have the certificates to prove it…

Friday 3rd November

Presentation day had arrived. The students were dressed in their finest and all looked incredibly professional as they got ready to present to the panel. Richard, Chahna and myself were sat on the panel and we were all blown away by the quality of work that was presented to us. From chocolate test tube samples from around the world, to gold covered chocolate which was ready to dominate Instagram.

The brands and ideas that were developed during this week away were so strong that I could already see their products sitting on shelves in stores. It really is a testament to the quality of teaching that the International Business and Management MA/MSc deliver as well as being in the inspiring city of Brussels.

Make sure to watch IBM student, Irina’s vlog that she took whilst out there! Watch the video on our YouTube channel below and make sure to subscribe.

Thank you to module leader Richard West, course leader Rebecca Wang and PhD student Chahna Gonsalves for organising such a wonderful trip and to Irina Pecherskikh for making this amazing video of her time in Brussels. Find out more about International Business and Management MA/MSc. You can view the rest of the IBM Brussels album over on our Facebook and make sure to follow us over on Instagram where we update our stories whenever we’re away on an exciting trip just like this.

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