Arriving in Leuven and Touring AB Inbev
By Karim Sultan, PMP, CPIM, Telfer MBA candidate
For those unfamiliar with European floor numbering, the ground floor is always “0”, not 1 as is common in most of Canada. So in European style, here is the blog report for Day “0”.
It was a cool day on Saturday after a morning of rain. My train pulled into Leuven around 1:00 pm and as we were slowing for the station, my travel colleagues and I couldn’t help but notice the large Stella Artois brewery situated nearby.
After 30 minutes of meandering, admiring old architecture, checking the occasional map, and pulling suitcases across cobblestone sidewalks, we found our hotel. Already a large number of students were congregating in the hotel lobby – our meeting point for the start of class. The European trip is an unparalleled opportunity for Telfer MBA students to see high performance organizations in a European context -first hand. They’re given an opportunity to tour facilities, meet management teams, and learn how the dynamic factors of Europe influence their business strategies as they seek to improve their successes.
The class is popular – last year, 7 students attended; this year, 26 students are involved. It is taught by Professor Mike Miles, the Telfer MBA Director. Professor Miles is no stranger to this trip, having led it each year since 2008. Also, the Telfer School’s alumni network has opened the door on many exciting opportunities.
The week ahead will see us visiting Nike, Alcatel-Lucent, Deloitte, and Accenture in Belgium; and Google, Ivanhoe Cambridge, L’Oreal and Sodexho in France. The road show will cover Leuven, Brussels, Antwerp, and Paris and promises to be a busy schedule.
After a quick briefing, we get down to business, starting off the afternoon with a tour of AB InBev’s large brewery facility. As one can imagine, the students are particularly excited about this one. The clouds part, and on the walk down to the plant, one can’t help but smell the doughy-sweet scent of yeast as it permeates the air.
Our tour guide informs us that the tour will consist of 3 parts: how they brew the beer, how they bottle the beer, and – with a little help from us – how they take the beer out. The tour is detailed: this is an incredibly large scale operation, providing AB Inbev products (such as Stella Artois and Jupiler) to a large European market. Watching the bottling process is mesmerizing. The flow rate can reach as much as 80,000 bottles and cans per hour. But it doesn’t take much to see the bottling operation for what it is: a virtual printing press. The output is set to match demand, meaning AB InBev expects to liquidate its inventory (pun intended) in short order.
Afterwards, we circulate to the Stella Artois lounge where an expert bartender artfully pours multiple rounds of the brewery’s best offerings. It’s going to be a fascinating week.
May 25, 2013
MBAA Great Glebe Garage Sale
May 28, 2013
Alumni lunch with Ian Telfer in Vancouver
May 29, 2013
Alumni Reception in Calgary
June 6, 2013
2013 New Graduates' Reception
September 13, 2013
19th Annual Telfer School of Management Golf Tournament