MScom 12’s Dirk De Muynck has his hands full: less than a year ago, he initiated Volvo Group’s Global Reputation Management function at the Volvo Group Headquarters in Sweden and—in near parallel—embarked on the rigorous, 21-month executive educational program at MScom. He says MScom not only informs his daily business decisions, but brings fresh perspectives which contribute to his personal and professional growth.
The Volvo Group, active in 180 countries and employing 100,000 people worldwide, is a leading supplier of commercial transport solutions, providing trucks, buses, construction equipment, drive systems for marine and industrial applications and aircraft engine components, as well as financial services to customers. It’s against that dynamic backdrop that De Muynck last summer helped launch the group’s reputation management function.
“I have a degree in tax management, but I knew from graduation that I was never going to work in finance because I had figured out at the end of my studies that I really had a passion for communication,” said De Muynck, who began his career in sponsorship communications for Volvo. After seven years of immersion in Volvo-sponsored professional golf tournaments, round-the-world sailing and the media activities around them, he was a lobbyist for Volvo Group’s European Representationfor seven years.
Fortifying the career toolbox
“Volvo inspires a lot of loyalty and because it’s a global group, it’s easier for people to move around and take on new challenges. In June 2009, I was looking for my next challenge in the company, and that challenge was to bring a more systematic reputation management approach to the Volvo Group,” he said, adding that while the reputation management function was his top priority, it was clear to him that MScom could play an important role in fortifying his communications toolbox on a strategic level.
He advocated for—and received—his employer sponsor’s full support to take on MScom in parallel with his work to build up Volvo Group’s reputation management activities.
“It’s a rare combination: changing professional functions, introducing a new concept in the company and pursuing a postgraduate education all at the same time, and it’s demanding. After a week at MScom, a lot of inspiring ideas come to me during the flight back home to Belgium,” said De Muynck. “I return home with a short list of what I’ve learned, what I want to take action on and what I want to learn more about, and this makes me look forward to the next MScom session.”
MScom is well-connected
Prior to joining MScom, De Muynck did not foresee the program’s many connections to the variety of professional organizations supporting communications disciplines.
“For example, I had earned a certificate in reputation management from the Reputation Institute and only later learned that many of the MScom faculty are also connected to that institute,” he said. “MScom goes deeper, offering me a chance to meet some of the academia behind the Reputation Institute, and that’s a real premium.”
Another premium is the network of alumni and professional peers associated with MScom.
“On a human level, I truly value the MScom relationships and network. On a knowledge level, the courses are very valuable, but on the interpersonal level, there is also a huge amount of value to the personal and professional experience my peers bring to the table,” De Muynck said. “This is something unique to MScom. The small class sizes and an open environment where each of us stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the faculty makes MScom the ultimate academic experience.”
Looking to the future
De Muynck said he feels confident that his MScom experience will extend far beyond graduation.
“Ten to 15 years from now, MScom will remain with me not only as an occasion to expand my knowledge, but as a peer-to-peer learning experience,” he said.
While it’s not uncommon for MScom participants and alumni to declare their own MScom graduating class as “the best one,” De Muynck is convinced that MScom12’s participants meet that criteria.
“I did not expect to gain so much from the professional contacts through the program and I can say without hesitation that my MScom class is the best one,” he said. “If you look at the age differences between us, the enormous diversity of professional experiences, the wealth of insights all of us bring to the class, and the genuine fun we have together in this learning environment, MScom12 is a very special experience.”
Text based on interview carried out in March 2010.