Job Title: Director of Business Development
Company: Driessen Aerospace Group
"This year’s OneMBA has just completed the European residency in Amsterdam and Istanbul. I was surprised that when I saw people again in Europe after first meeting them six months ago in Washington, it felt like I had known them for much longer than just that one week in Washington – it just goes to show that the residencies are so intense that what you pick up sticks with you."
What will the One MBA do for you?
Everyone has a different approach to doing an MBA, and different motives. For me, there are two main reasons. The first is to broaden my financial knowledge, since my background is mainly commercial, and my education was in public administration, so I’m keen to know more about company valuations, economics, marketing and with the globalisation: the Leading and Managing Global Organisations course. Thus far I am en route to my goal, and I’m looking forward to the second year of One MBA.
Secondly, and this that’s a key element as well, I want to work on my personal development. The Personal Leadership Development course ‘forces’ me out of my comfort zone, which is necessary to grow and develop.
There’s an additional benefit to the OneMBA, and that is to extend my network and make more international connections. After the OneMBA I will be part of a global network of other OneMBA graduates. A very valuable asset!
Is the MBA a well-known degree in your industry or organisation?
Yes, it’s a well-known degree within the Netherlands and the industry, but not common in my company. A few individuals have done an MBA but it’s not typically the way to progress. An MBA has the potential to catapult ones career, and it’s probably much more common in the USA than in the Netherlands. Having an MBA won’t just help my prospects over there or in the Netherlands; if the BRIC countries continue to grow at their current rate there’ll be an increased need for understanding and the ability to cross cultural barriers, and this is one way to move forward and extend myself. The USA and Europe are thought of as much more alike than they really are, and I’m interested to find out more about this to increase my effectiveness. My first working group on the OneMBA at RSM included students from China, India, Russia, the USA, the Netherlands and Brazil. Almost every continent was represented in that small group.
How is the OneMBA impacting your current work?
I am more aware of cultural differences as I’m dealing mostly with Dutch, French, US and German colleagues and counterparts. If I can consciously recognise the pitfalls, it is easier to avoid them. I have already identified a few pitfalls that I have stepped into in the past when I lived and worked in Mexico. I’m also trying to hold back on certain Dutch aspects of my cultural character, for example, my typically Dutch directness!
As a company-funded programme participant, what is the Return on Investment (ROI) you expect from OneMBA? What do your employers think of it?
I want to make some forward steps in my career. I have just successfully completed an important project for my company. My team and I have just closed a big deal and have handed it over to the operational teams for execution. I’ve made suggestions to the company’s management team for further projects, and I hope some of them will happen and can be finalised. With the MBA I will be bring more knowledge and different experiences to the table, from which Driessen can benefit.
With your very busy schedule, how do you find the programme and the cross-continental projects with an international team?
The schedule works out very well for me. The whole rhythm of coming to Rotterdam roughly every six weeks for four days is manageable, and straightforward. The schedule was one reason for choosing to do this programme; another was the age profile and level of experience of the other students.
I tried out one of the Executive MBA classes on one of my early visits to RSM, but I realised that I was at a difference phase in my career compared to other participants. Then I tried a OneMBA class and immediately realised that this was the type of group that could give me valuable information and experiences. I had more in common with the other participants, and they related to my experiences. When that happens, people can give you different insights into the problems you are facing, which is very useful.
The Personal Leadership Development (PLD) thread, which runs throughout the programme, is a great motivator to develop yourself. My first PLD coaching session is coming up soon, and so far I have felt like I have only just scratched the surface in the process of examining myself and my motivations. The OneMBA and PLD in particular will help me identify myself and my values and passions much more clearly than before. I have done this kind of thinking before without it being a formal part of a training programme – sometimes there’s a trigger event that starts the process – and I find it very useful. Others might not be aware of its benefits (yet).
I also enjoy coaching others and the PLD process helps me to do this by making me take a step back and look at my own coaching style.
How have you enjoyed the Global Residencies so far? Which ones have been completed?
In September 2010, immediately after starting the programme in Rotterdam, we travelled to Washington DC. That was a crazy time! First, there was the ‘pressure-cooker’ experience of starting the OneMBA programme. You try very hard to remember everyone’s names and start to realise that these people are your local network. You’re also just learning how to study again, then you travel to Washington DC with them all for an intense international experience.
We have just completed the European residency in Amsterdam and Istanbul. I was surprised that when I saw people again in Europe after first meeting them six months ago in Washington, it felt like I had known them for much longer than just a week – it just goes to show that the residencies are so intense that what you pick up sticks with you.
The ‘problem’ is that after returning from a local or international residency, you have to adjust to a different speed or intensity of work with your own company. During a residency, everyone here is on the same, highly intense level of concentration and thought. It’s something you get used to, and you accept it. I think that getting accustomed to working at such an intense level makes you grow; I know that I now have a higher tolerance for more intense work, and it’s more difficult to get me out of my comfort zone. This gives me an advantage. I can deal with an even higher workload than I could before.
RSM’s values in education include Sustainability, Innovation, Critical Thinking and Spirit. How have you found these values expressed through the OneMBA?
Yes. Critical thinking is something that’s provoked in the classroom. I am accustomed to doing this at work, and I’m a firm believer in challenging myself and others and of digging deeper to find new ways of thinking either on my own or in a group. There is plenty of discussion in class because no two people think alike. We confront each other with our thinking all the time, and I enjoy it very much. The reason for this also goes back to our local and global teams, of course. Local teams tend to know each other better, and see each other in one location that becomes familiar, so there are fewer cultural barriers and the discussion runs freely.
What has been the best part of OneMBA for you so far?
The global residencies have been great, and I really enjoy the personal connections you make with people – this is the ‘soft skills’ part of doing an MBA. The network is making a difference to me already. I’ve discovered how I react to being asked to transfer my loyalties; after working on challenges with on one team for six months, you join a new team. It was a new sensation for me, and I did not expect to need to build up a feeling of team loyalty again. But I can see that this is an important skill to develop; to be able to sit down with people we don’t know, to make a new team work well – especially a new international team – then, when the task is done, step away. It’s completely different to working within your own company, when you know you will encounter those people and work with them again.
And after OneMBA, what does the future hold?
I would like to have a management leadership position in an international company, and I’d like to live abroad again. I’m keeping an open mind about where that would be, and I’m grateful to have my wife’s support in this.
After I finish the MBA, I’m planning to extend my ambitions in everything! My comfort zone has grown, and I have got used to stretching myself. In November I took part in the 2010 New York Marathon and it really was a stretch to accomplish the training in combination with everything else. I suffered through it, but ran and finished the Marathon. I’ve scaled down my ambitions for running during the MBA, but I’m thinking ahead to the Berlin marathon in September 2012. Maybe....