Each year, in the framework of the course "Service design and Innovation" taught by Professor Wafa Hammedi, the students of the master’s in management sciences & management engineering work on "business cases", in relation with the socio-economic news of various companies. The latter invite them to reflect on solutions to various problems linked to the design and innovation of the services they encounter in their organisation.

For example, the students have already worked for the Port of Antwerp, BeCode, Maasmechelen Village, Technopolis, always on issues related to the conception and design of customer or employee experiences, and of a complete and integrated service solution.

Throughout the second term, students work in teams and can benefit from the expertise and advice of various company representatives. IBM has been participating in this programme for ten years now and is available to the master's students at our university.

"One of IBM's core values is dedication to the success of every business customer. This does not only mean technological innovation, but the underlying business model must also be correct and innovative", said Yves Van Seters, IBM University Relations Manager. "That is why IBM pays special attention to management students. Every year, students are challenged to apply their theoretical knowledge to a realistic business case. The cooperation with UNamur is a good example of a win-win collaboration for all parties involved.

This year, IBM is once again at the heart of this programme. Last February, five IBM managers were present at UNamur, during Wafa Hammedi's course, to present the new Business Case. The company proposed to the students to work on an issue that affects it directly: "The war for young talent", in a context where the shortage of profiles in the field of technology and services is growing. Following the health crisis, many companies are facing a very high turnover and are experiencing difficulties in recruiting talent. How do you attract new young talent to meet IBM's challenges? How can you ensure that you keep the best people on your team?

Over the past 3 months, the students have been thinking about this issue and are now preparing to deliver their best proposals. Throughout this process, they have been coached by their teacher Wafa Hammedi, but also by IBM managers who have shared their field experience with them.

The students' projects will be presented, debated and evaluated on 15 June 2022 by a prestigious jury composed of IBM managers and academics from the University of Namur and abroad. The best projects will be rewarded with a prize awarded by IBM.  "We are delighted with this fruitful collaboration with IBM. Not only does it offer students the possibility of confronting the realities of the field, but it also leads to prestigious opportunities for the students, with, for example, the possibility of carrying out internships within IBM or of finding a job there", underlines Prof. Wafa Hammedi.

An opportunity that has become a reality for Mathilde Draye. Last February, she presented herself to the students as a representative of IBM, where she fulfils the duties of Associate Mobile Experience Consultant, although she had been sitting in their place a year earlier. It was during this course that the former UNamur student was able to contact her future employer, IBM.

The UNamur - IBM collaboration

Problem Based Learning

"University studies are often perceived as being very theoretical, often considered to be very specialised and, above all, not directly related to the 'real world' of business. This is obviously a source of stress for students who are about to enter the job market. Companies, on the other hand, also have expectations of having young graduates who are operational and able to solve complex problems efficiently. This pedagogy (PBL) therefore aims to bring the two worlds closer together, offering students a unique immersive experience where they have to mobilise, integrate and apply their acquired knowledge to solve a real managerial problem of a client (the company) with deliverables that will be evaluated by both professionals and academics", concludes Prof. Wafa Hammedi. This teaching method is fully in line with the philosophy of the "Learning by doing" programme applied in the Faculty of Economics.

A ten-year partnership

Professor Wafa Hammedi has maintained close professional ties with IBM for ten years. In 2013, Wafa Hammedi received the prestigious IBM Faculty Award for her research work. The IBM Faculty Award is a prestigious international programme. It rewards professors and researchers from all over the world for the quality and interest of their research work in relation to industry and fundamental research.

How did students respond to this war of talents?