Sue Schiepers opened her own art gallery in Hasselt at the start of 2017. It was a first: it is the first glass gallery in Belgium. She is passionate about the arts, but also perfectly at home in the business world. In 2015 Sue started the Executive MBA at Antwerp Management School. She uses the skills she learns in this program every day.
"I already had some knowledge of economics, but not enough. The EMBA gives me the chance to learn some more general subjects."
Sue started out as an Art History student and ended up in London studying Art Business Management. After six years in the cultural sector, Sue wanted to go back to the private sector. She worked for a big international company and felt like she wanted to progress. The EMBA was the perfect way to go. “I already had some knowledge of economics, but not enough. I wanted to learn some more general things. The EMBA gives me the chance to learn a little bit about everything, to get a taste of everything.”
“I was surprised by how many people in the EMBA were interested in art.”
Cultural vs. business world
There was no conflict between the cultural and business worlds in which Sue worked. The two go together more often than you’d think. Many of her fellow students in London started art galleries as well as working for hedge funds. She talks about art during her Executive MBA more often than she would have expected. “I was surprised by how many people in the EMBA are interested in art.”
She has already been able to use a lot of the skills she obtained in her EMBA in starting her glass gallery. “A lot of people underestimate the additional value of a program like this one, but I have already been able to put a lot of my courses into practice.” In the art world, you also have to prepare a business plan, have a unique concept, find out who your potential clients are … In particular, she uses the negotiation tactics she learned surprisingly often. “You look back at the tips unexpectedly and use them automatically. That was one of those courses of which I thought: I will never use this.”
“A lot of people underestimate the additional value of a program like this one, but I have already been able to put a lot of my courses into practice.”
There was a part of the program that she didn’t look forward to as much: the community project. This project aims to create social awareness with AMS students. And that turned out just right for Sue. She often drove past a psychiatric institute in her neighborhood and was kind of curious. After a tough screening process, which comes as standard when you work with vulnerable people, she was allowed to start work as a volunteer. She took people to cultural events twice a month. That was such a special experience, that she still volunteers there to this day. “They have to keep doing the community projects! You have to get out of your comfort zone, that’s very useful.”
At first she was afraid that she would stand out in the program, as a woman. “I was actually scared that we would stick together with all the women of the EMBA. But we were taken into the group and divided ourselves. They didn’t look at that at all.” She did notice that there aren’t a lot of women amongst the students and teachers, and that’s a shame. “I also talked to my coach about that.”
“They have to keep doing the community projects! You have to get out of your comfort zone, that’s very useful.”
Women in business
“I can only encourage women to do the EMBA.” And that support of women for women is important. When she told people at the company where she was working she wanted to do the EMBA, the men were very supportive, but the women warned her. “I don’t understand how you have the time for that!” And it is a lot of work, but that shouldn’t keep you from doing it. “I think that if you go for it and you really want to do it, what do those few hours a week matter?”
Meanwhile, her gallery is doing well. She made the papers in The Netherlands, Belgium and France, and even has customers from Paris. For now, she sees herself working on the success of her gallery in the future. But secretly she dreams of opening another gallery and she’d like to do a PhD. “And not specifically about glass, but about galleries. About the commercial success of galleries and the difficulties that come with it. I have a lot of contact with other gallery owners and there are a lot of things that could be done better. That would be a good subject.”
“I can only encourage women to do the EMBA. I think that if you go for it and you really want to do it, what do those few hours a week matter?”
Our EMBA is designed for all academic and professional backgrounds, women and men of all nationalities and all sectors. We focus on developing your technical business knowledge on top of your ability to understand leadership, communication skills and strategic thinking.