Denise Eikelenboom

Denise Eikelenboom

Programme/year: OneMBA13
Nationality: Dutch
Job Title: Director of Medical Air Assistance
Company: ANWB
Age: 40

“I have been put in charge of a new emergency service that in the past was outsourced. I am in charge from start to finish; before the OneMBA this would not have been possible. It’s given me the ability to implement ideas.

Everyone has ideas but they lack the tools to evaluate them properly, to see if they can really work and to put them into practice.”

Could you give a brief description of your job?

I run the Medical Air Assistance unit for the Dutch motoring association, the ANWB. It  operates helicopter emergency services for our policy holders.

How did you come across the One MBA programme?

I wasn’t specifically looking to do an MBA. I had always looked for ways of learning outside my job but there came a point when I was enjoying my work, and wanted to develop in the role. My boss suggested an MBA in our development conversations and it fitted my needs perfectly. It all just came together somehow.

I consulted within the company and with friends and RSM’s programme was top of the list. The Global OneMBA attracted me particularly. It fitted around my work and the profile of the students in terms of stage of career and age was similar to mine. This was important as I did not want to be with much younger students. The reception from admissions was very warm, they covered everything I needed to know.  

How has been the impact of the OneMBA on your work at ANWB?

I have been given tools that have been of immediate practical use. I understand processes better. Whether they are within my area of responsibility or not, I can see better how the company works. It gives you a good feeling to know what your part in the company is, to see where you fit in the complete value chain and how your team specifically adds value.  ANWB, like most other companies, offers a variety of services and products. It is key that you can see the whole value chain and how your part fits into the whole.

What would you say is the Return on Investment for your company?

It is difficult to quantify, though I would say the strategic understanding has changed everything I do. More concretely, I have been put in charge of a new emergency service that in the past was outsourced. I am in charge from start to finish; before the OneMBA this would not have been possible. It’s given me the ability to implement ideas. Everyone has ideas but they lack the tools to evaluate them properly, to see if they can really work and to put them into practice.

What were your expectations of how the OneMBA would benefit your company and how are they different now you are on the course?

I would not say I had a clear picture before I joined as I do these things intuitively. What I found that I did not know before was that it gave me a different way to look at my company, maybe even the economy as a whole. It really is a different way of thinking and looking at the world as a business and also as a leader. There’s more than I expected in terms of leadership development.

You are studying your Global OneMBA alongside your job and family. How do you keep up with it all?

I keep up by having a strong basis at home that supports me. I am disciplined in working steadily during the day and in the evenings. I also plan my free time, I have not given up on exercising and try to go out once a week for dinner/theater/family visits etc. Very important though is not trying to be perfect – I have to let a few things go.

You are taking part in the RSM MBA Kilimanjaro project, a women-only elective of the OneMBA programme. What motivated you to apply for it?

It is really a once in a lifetime experience. It is a type of challenge I have never done with women, which I really look forward to. I want to show the world that women can work together and achieve something through helping each other – something we will definitely need on the way up and down.

RSM’s values include Sustainability, Innovation, Critical Thinking and Spirit. How have you found these values expressed through the OneMBA?

Sustainability There is a lot of attention to what you can do that benefits society while you do your business. We also looked a lot of Base of the Pyramid businesses, with their great lessons for sustainability.

Innovation – the approach and tools used on the course was really innovative. The way we worked together online using tools hugely improved the work we did and I have since introduced these in my job.  It has greatly simplified an international way of work.

Critical Thinking - Definitely. You are specifically evaluated on your ability to be critical – to apply and challenge what you have been taught. There is a lot of interaction in the classes and in the papers; it is not just about reproducing what you’ve learned.

Spirit – for me this means that when work needs to be done we work hard together to get it done, but when it is time to relax we are able to enjoy ourselves together. This was definitely present during the course.

What has been the best part of OneMBA for you so far?

It has to be the residencies. We have already had one in Amsterdam and Istanbul and another in Washington. At the end of this year we will go to Mexico and Sao Paulo. Hong Kong and New Delhi are up for spring next year.  It is such a joy to bond with the fellow students. The learning and dynamic of the group creates a real buzz. You also learn to work in global teams with people you do not meet on a daily basis. Although we don’t see each other physically we do have to work remotely together and deliver three papers in six months. Combining to deliver under those circumstances was a great learning. We passed with a good grade and also had a lot of fun.