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    The adventures of working for a beer company in Belgium

    This summer, I had the opportunity to spend a 3-month-long internship in Belgium, at the Global Headquarters of Anheuser-Busch InBev, one of the largest beer producing companies. It manages a portfolio of over 200 brands, such as Stella Artois, Budweiser, Becks or Corona.

    Even though I am not a regular beer consumer, I’ve always been interested in beer industry from marketing perspective. It’s not easy for these giants to produce a traditional beverage and to keep up with the fast pace of product innovations at the same time, without cannibalizing own products. I was lucky enough to lead a project relating to this challenge. As part of a diverse team involving people from different departments, our objective was to develop a new range of products and to work out a new, experimental concept for selling them.

    The project covered different fields of marketing and a pinch of entrepreneurship: product development (with tastings 😉 ), market research, focus group tests, creative concept development and live tests on the market. Lots of field visits were included which helped me see the market from a full perspective - I met suppliers, customers and consumers on a regular basis, and also did a factory trip to learn about the brewing process. At the end, we presented the whole concept to the board like they were our investors.

    Regarding the atmosphere at a beer company – it’s full of friendly and young people with an adventurous mindset. All the interns were smart and open; we formed a great, diverse team. With different study backgrounds, coming from various countries, we learnt a lot from each other and shared great experiences. We explored together Leuven, home of Stella, a student city also known as the “largest bar” in Europe because its old market counts 35 bars in a row. Only 20 minutes away is Brussels, where we also spent nice moments relaxing in the spectacular rooftop bars or running market tests every then and now.

    My 10 weeks are almost over, but I have no reason to worry. Because from now on, whenever I feel “the glass is half empty “– I will fill it with my happy memories from Belgium…or with Belle-Vue Kriek, we’ll see.

    What Belgium taught me about:

    How to adapt

    In a climate where you can easily meet all the seasons on the same day, you will get used to frequent surprises. At a company, where almost all the interns besides me were boys, I found myself wearing Belgian supporter hat, watching football matches with them on my very first week.

    Problem solving

    In a city, where most shops close at 6 pm, but no chance you leave the office before that. Therefore, you literally learn to bake your own bread.

    Mixed culture and unity at the same time

    In a country where for historical reasons, people have separate mother tongues. (You can be approached in French, Flemish or English any time, sometimes even in German.) Still, what Belgians are proud to have in common are: their royal couple; the Belgian “Red Devils” at the World Cup; and of course their beer with thick foam, smoothed gently with a knife on the top.

    Story & photos: Dóra Holczinger