2016 Best 40 Under 40 Professors: Robert Boute, Vlerick Business School

Vierick Business School's Robert Boute teaches	Operations & Supply Chain Management

Vierick Business School’s Robert Boute teaches Operations & Supply Chain Management

Robert Boute

Associate Professor Operations & Supply Chain Management, Academic Director Full Time MBA Program

Vlerick Business School and KU Leuven (Belgium)

Before joining Vlerick Business School and University, Robert Boute was a visiting professor at Kellogg School of Management where he conducted research and taught the school’s part-time MBA students. Along with his teaching load, Professor Boute is the Academic Director of the International MBA at Vlerick. In each of these institutions he has been ranked among the top teachers.

Inside the classroom, Boute uses simulation exercises and solves real life supply chain problems, allowing Vlerick MBAs to gain first-hand experience of the challenges found within supply chain management. While doing so, students say Boute treats each of them as “chief executive student,” always engaging and eager for their feedback.

On the research side, Professor Boute looks at operations management from the perspective of designing, managing and improving organisational processes for manufacturing and for service organisations. In particular, he hones in on interactions between operations and other functional areas such as marketing and finance while also looking at managing volatility in supply chains. In 2014, he won the Vlerick Best Researcher Award from over 150 faculty members.

Age: 36

At current institution since: 2006 (Vlerick Business School) and 2012 (KU Leuven)

Education: PhD in Business Economics, KU Leuven (2006)

Courses you currently teach: Operations Management, Supply Chain Management, Production & Logistics Management

Professor you most admire: My academic mentors who became good friends: Marc Lambrecht and Jan Van Mieghem. Excellent teachers, committed researchers, but foremost modest and warm persons. I feel privileged working with them.

“I knew I wanted to be a b-school professor when…during my undergrad program I attended Zeger Degraeve’s Decision Sciences course. He travelled each Monday morning to Belgium and taught us the same way he did his MBA students at London Business School – something I hadn’t witnessed before. He made use of case-based teaching (like the “Red Brand Canners” Case) and showed us that you could solve relevant problems using mathematics. And he did that in an engaging manner and with a lot of student interaction. He influenced me greatly in the way I teach today.”

“If I weren’t a b-school professor…I’d want to be the mayor of my University City (sounds intriguing to me, although admittedly I am not a fan of politics…)

Most memorable moment in the classroom or in general as a professor: I enjoy most when participants have an Eureka or Aha!-effect, when suddenly they notice that theoretical derivations lead to practical insights that they can (and are even eager to) implement in their own organization. When I feel that moment happening in class, it makes my day!

What professional achievement are you most proud of? When my students and/or colleagues tell me they enjoy working with me.

What do you enjoy most about being a business school professor? The feeling that you are developing the leaders of tomorrow: they will make it happen, but it feels great that I can contribute (to some extent) to that.

What do you enjoy least about being a business school professor? Grading is a undoubtedly the most painful part of the job. At the same time it is a necessarily evil: students deserve good (and tough) exams, but also correct grading and useful feedback so they can learn from it. Too bad it all takes so much time.

Fun fact about yourself: I look younger than my students.

Favorite book: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

Favorite movie: Il Postino

Favorite type of music: Belpop

Favorite television show: The television shows my kids watch on Sunday morning

Favorite vacation spot: The mountains and/or the ocean

What are your hobbies? Cycling races in the French Alps, as well as Belgium’s Tour of Flanders.

Twitter handle: @RBoute

“If I had my way, the business school of the future would be…Incubators where students and researchers are sponsored by companies to create and develop new knowledge that is needed to address the (current and future) societal problems that intersect with their business.

Students say…

“Practice and theory blend together in his teachings. He not only allows students to experience the challenges of supply chain management through real life cases and immersive games, but he further stimulates out of the box reflection through inspiring guest lecturers, behind-the-scenes company visits, discussions on trends or simply by applying complex frameworks to managing his toddlers at home.”

“Robert is so much more than just a passionate professor. He is a lifelong mentor who is approachable for guidance during as well as beyond the MBA trajectory.”

“Buckets of positive energy, good attention for everyone in class, very clear repetition of where we are at the beginning of every class and a very good and consequent wrap-up at the end. Good balance between seriousness and play.”

“He treats each of us as chief executive student: always engaging, ever adapting, and eager for feedback. Practice or theory, it all blends together in his teachings. He not only allows us to experience the challenges of supply chain management through real life cases and immersive games, he further stimulates out of the box reflection through inspiring guest lecturers (US DoD), organizing behind-the-scenes company visits (e.g. AB Inbev, Materialise), discussing trends (drones, beer pipelines) or simply by applying complex frameworks to managing his toddlers at home.”


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