Start of the 2017-2018 school year

An accent on entrepreneurship with Eric Domb as guest of honour.

On Friday, 29 September IHECS ceremoniously kicked off the school year and welcomed the founder and president of the Pairi Daiza Zoo, Mr. Eric Domb.

Director Luc De Meyer began with a reminder that we are quickly approaching the institution's 60th anniversary and that, to mark the occasion, a series of initiatives are planned over the coming months to celebrate the event in the most fitting way possible.

He then noted personnel changes, especially the addition of Nordine Nabili heading the masters programme in journalism and the naming of Camille Laville who will work at the new journalism research laboratory.

He also noted the student population beginning their studies (2,052 students) and the status of dual degrees. A recent mission of Mélanie Lalieu in Quebec is otherwise opening up new opportunities in this regard.

Finally, he highlighted this year's establishment of the new Masters of Event Management led by Patrick Vandoorne.

New challenges

Continuing with the speaker's "invent your life, dream your job" topic, the Chancellor invoked the aspects of creativity, imagination, and entrepreneurship that must continue to grow as the basis of our teaching programmes.

"We are facing an enormous challenge in the radical transformation of the communications field and we are effectively witnessing the emergence of a new information consumption ecosystem which it is essential for us to get a better handle on. These changes require new knowledge and a new skill set. Today's new digital entrepreneurs are developing innovative relational formats and creating new growth niches for tomorrow," he noted.

He added that "it is not worth training for tasks, let alone professions, that machines will perform perfectly well on their own tomorrow. What becomes vital is the ability to create, imagine, and invent new relationships. In a word we must build a real "entrepreneurial spirit" in our areas of expertise at all costs in the coming years."

Over the past few years IHECS has broadly begun the pedagogical shift through initiatives creating the tools to stimulate entrepreneurship within the institution but also the tools which make it possible to realise and complete projects such as:

  • The Brussels Bondy Blog, the web platform enabling journalism masters students to practice their future profession. IHECS' desire is to turn it into a real citizen's medium. With the support and experience of the new Head of the Departement of Journalism, IHECS intends to develop it even more over the coming years,
  • IHECSfund and IHECSfund-pro, the crowdfunding platform geared towards stimulating entrepreneurship in journalism by offering students the production tools and financial resources to complete their journalism project successfully. IHECS is currently working on extending the platform to professionals with the IHECS Fund Pro piece.
  • IHECSLab, the applied communications research laboratory intended for the students of IHECS' various communications masters programmes. Students practice their profession there through partnerships and orders coming from public and private sector institutions. Construction of the IHECS LAB on the fourth floor is nearly complete.
  • IHECSpreneurs, towards a 2nd edition, this project shouldered by IHECS and GroupeOne proposes to accompany IHECS students as well as alumni throughout their careers to help them reach their professional goals thereby fostering business development. While the experiment was first conducted in ASCEP, it will naturally be made available to all departments.
  • Cafetaria for cultural and relationship development, IHECS has signed a partnership agreement with "The Voyagers Circle" for a full renovation of the cafeteria, including furniture, acoustics, and configuration. The objective is to give the IHECS community a friendly meeting space that doubles as a cultural space since the purpose of the new cafeteria will also be to host a number of events and will be open to talented young people looking for space to express themselves. This new space will be unveiled in November.

These are the types of project IHECS will encourage in the future. But more than that it is a mindset for living and communicating together.

After ending his speech by wishing everyone a wonderful and productive 2017-2018 school year, Luc De Meyer turned the floor over to Jean-François Raskin, IHECS' General Manager.

Eric Domb: "Invent your life, Dream your job"

Jean-François Raskin recalled his childhood, his time in law school, his longing for space and gardens, his "encounter" with the Cambron Casteau Domain, and the wild idea to turn it into Paridisio and Pairi Daiza as he introduced the founder of the Pairi Daiza Zoo.

What could propel a young man, whose friends described him simultaneously as strong-willed and reserved, to undertake an adventure that some considered "rationally" impossible?

Everyone has a chance

Eric Domb explains his complicated childhood and education. He especially came away with some ideas to reform a system ill-suited to diverse intelligences and motivations as well as the challenges posed by a changing world.

After law school and a few years as a lawyer and auditor, the time came when he finally glimpsed the chance to realise what had until then been no more than an inkling of a budding passion. Something was buried deep inside which just needed a lucky moment to reveal itself. "Everyone has a chance," he attests. "It's just a matter of seeing it and grabbing on."

The burning desire to bring a plan to fruition

Nothing happens without a burning desire. He felt foolish before the incredulous expressions of potential investors as they listened to him describe his "bird park" project over dinner. 

And yet, despite a difficult start, the threat of bankruptcy, missed deadlines, and a literally flat business plan, the park came to life." "His faith in the project, the certainty that there was potential and that it could not help but "work" helped the park get out of the rut." This certainty drove conviction. The public had to be reassured, as did the suppliers; public and private investors had to be convinced to go along on the adventure."

Communication is essential

And then there is communication. Absolutely essential. It is the imperative link between entrepreneurs and the rest of the world. Getting the word out, explaining, convincing, winning people over, and creating connexions is the role of those who make communication and information their life's work. 

It's what you learn at this school," he says while specifying that even if technologies change quickly, any initiative, project, or endeavour will always need communications specialists to raise awareness."

Jean-François Raskin closed the session by presenting a gift to the day's guest: a case of Italian wines produced by a former IHECS student, Olivier-Paul Morandini, who one day decided to throw it all away and take unreasonable risks to live his dream: a vineyard in Tuscany. Years of work and perseverance were required so that today customers can enjoy an exceptional and renowned product. Pairi Daiza and Fueri Mondo, two passions and two beautiful realities.