Lei Li is the managing director of Vivalyte. As a former Barco employee and Vlerick guy, he founded Vivalyte combining his technology and business experience. His company is active in niche markets where illumination technology is used to its’ maximum potential: signage, retail, exhibition, event, museums, galleries and large visual communications in the public area. Together with the team he built the company that has a leading position in Belgium and is respected as an innovative leader in the European arena.
How did the Masterclass start at Vivalyte?
We joined the program with industrial product design alumnus Nils Welkenhuysen in 2018-19. Just before, Nils did his internship at our company and told us about the Masterclass Industrial Design Engineering. We were happy to discover that a start-up/scale-up like us could sign up. As Nils already did an internship at our company, we knew he was a good match with Vivalyte. Moreover, several of my colleagues and friends are graduated from HOWEST, so I knew I would get top notch quality.
What did you consider the biggest opportunities?
I always found that there was a gap between what fresh university graduates know and what a business environment needs. That’s why I’m an admirer of the German apprenticeship kind of program. Where young graduates can spend a significant amount of time in a company to be more immersed in the actual business environment. The Masterclass reminds me a lot of this system. As it is a unique combination of working, on the job learning and obtaining valuable social and communication skills. It’s a company investment in a future colleague. For graduates it provides a smooth transition between studying and working.
Moreover, as a small but fast scale-up, it is not easy to find talent and keeping them engaged. So, for us, this is an excellent recruitment tool. It was also a nice extra that we could use the KMO Portefeuille, to reduce the cost. We also see this as a part of our company’s strength and social citizenship to give young talent opportunities like these.
How did your company benefit from the Masterclass?
Vivalyte considers innovation as critical element of sustainable growth in business. It became clear that having in-house product design competence is critical for long term excellence. We use this knowledge to do better, to excel, to differ. Product design is a part of our company culture of lifelong learning.
Nils demonstrated a large scope and a wide variety of technical competence from the start. As a result, he can handle a lot of different challenges (electronic, mechanical….) and is very complementary to the team. Thanks to his critical view, he is able to understand the real problem and work out solutions.
Was the Masterclass a success?
The answer is quite straightforward. We hired Nils and are now working with Inge to start up a new Masterclass. So, this is/was definitely a success. Even more, we would love to see other Howest degrees joining this program. Because for us Howest is not only a source of human resource but also a source of inspiration, creativity and competence.
Thanks a lot for sharing your experiences!