Robert van Zanten

Robert van Zanten

“Perseverance starts where the fun ends,” says Robert van Zanten. That direct, nitty-gritty approach is just what makes NCOI, of which he founder, owner, and Managing Director, amongst the largest,  best-respected and perhaps best-known training institute in the Netherlands.

Offering a wide variety of accredited training programs throughout the Netherlands, the Hilversum-headquartered NCOI provides professionals ultimate flexibility in the way they engage in their trainings, which range from skills-focused training to high end Master programs. 

Robert founded the company in 1996, just two years out from his graduation from RSM. His first job was as a Marketer for the dairy company Friesche Vlag; in classic start-up style, he started making plans for NCOI in his rented attic flat.  Perseverance worked:  today NCOI is the largest non-public provider of accredited top-quality education and training programs, and employs more than 500 people plus around 2000 freelance instructors.

His ongoing success is no surprise to RSM Associate Professor Job Hoogendoorn, who nominated him for the DAA. Hoogendoorn  recognised early on in Robert’s Doctorandus studies, and particularly during his HR-focused research period  in 1992-1993, the inherent qualities of the  successful entrepreneur . “He was a very independent thinker with a huge dose of willpower, tremendous perseverance and a great sense of quality,” says Hoogendoorn.  “This was obviously a student of extraordinary calibre.” For his part, Robert remains happy with his study at RSM. “It has given me a solid base and essential tools which I benefit from on a daily basis as an entrepreneur,” he says.

His role models include Steve Jobs, Joop van den Ende, and chef Sergio Herman: “All self-made people in their own specific field of expertise, with a strong vision, a huge passion and perfectionism, and a will to reach the top,” he says. 

What continues to drive Robert van Zanten after such tremendous success?  He says that year in and year out, he continues to “define and set new and challenging objectives, and realise those objectives with focus.”  His current challenge is PhD research in the field of leadership. “It stimulates me enormously to get the most out of myself and to, over and over again, push my boundaries “