Tiemen van Bruggen

Tiemen van Bruggen

"The natural next step would be to get more responsibilities, and my MBA will benefit me with extra knowledge. In time, it will enable me to change the course of my career; in general I feel it gives more choices and exposes you to lots of different fields of business."

Head of Central Operations for PostNL based in Marlow, Bucks, UK (Logistics & Supply chain)

Executive MBA 2013


How did you come across the Executive MBA?
I spent two years as a project manager for PostNL in Germany, Italy and now the UK, where it’s known as TNT. I like the working culture there; it’s a good balance between getting things done and getting to know your colleagues. In the Netherlands, PostNL is part of the establishment but in the UK, the postal system is in the process of becoming deregulated. TNT is fast-growing and making headway against an established competitor. Last March I set up pilot delivery network in the UK; it felt like starting up my own business.

After graduation I worked as a specialist in strategy and logistics optimisation since I wanted to go into analytical depth, before transferring my skills to management. After over three years I made the change to project and general management. However, I was missing the general approach needed in management; I worked a lot with operations and finance, but didn’t know so much about marketing, organisational behaviour or human resources.

An MBA is the best way to know more, and I briefly considered other universities, but I knew RSM well because I completed my master degree in Econometrics at Erasmus University Rotterdam. and I liked the idea of experiencing the city and environment of Rotterdam again. I started in January 2012, and even though I’m accustomed to studying, now I’m juggling studies with a relatively new job.

How are you managing to balance studying with work?
It’s down to planning. I live in London – a great place to be – and have found there is a balance between enjoying a social life and studying in the mornings. I work 50 or more hours a week, and study in my spare time. I use the libraries in London to get out of the house sometimes, and the company gives me 15 study days a year. When I started my current job, it was already known that I would also become a part-time MBA student. I feel fully supported by PostNL.

Is having an MBA common in PostNL?
In the Netherlands, yes. People are generally positive and supportive, and often impressed, especially as there is a clear link between what I am studying and the job. I think I’ll really be able to show how useful the MBA is when I come to do the in-company project.

I can see how much I’ve learned – and how some situations in the past could have been avoided. As a specialist, I became accustomed to doing a lot for myself, but that’s impossible with the size of the projects we handle now. I have to delegate more as doing the MBA means my time is restricted, which is improving my managerial skills! You learn a lot about people’s behaviour, difficult situations that arise and how to deal with them.

What is your contact like with others on the course?
Really good. Almost all assignments are in groups so we work closely together and have conference calls each week. The team has to deliver a result but we make it enjoyable; we socialise together and have time for fun even when it is busy. I like the international setting, although the Dutch character is quite strong. We all go to Cape Town in South Africa in July to visit businesses at various locations, and the University. We have some great teachers from South Africa, and I’m curious to see what the culture is like and to speak to students about their experiences. It will be interesting to see what the country is like as it emerges from a background of apartheid. A full week with fellow students will also be fun.

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

I was pleasantly surprised that sustainability is included in the course. Social and environmental sustainability is not always the main topic, but it is referred to within and outside the course. For example, students will be taking part in a project to work with South African slums. The topic of ‘giving back’ also comes up regularly.

The course is about new learning and how to develop businesses, so innovation is a key part of our learning, but the course is delivered in a traditional way. We are learning a lot about recent business activities and world affairs, and apply current affairs issues to the topics under study. We use the latest information about the crisis, and apply our new knowledge to it; there are a lot of cutting edge developments involved.

Critical Thinking
You are continuously challenged by the teacher and your fellow students, and have lots of discussions in order to come to a better result; this is a major attribute of the programme, and one of its strengths – that it’s not about the grades but about the learning process and a continuous exchange of ideas.

RSM has a strong spirit of openness; all of us are in the same situation in finding a balance between work, private life and studying, between tough months and study courses. The feeling that we all want to learn brings out the hard-working spirit of the school. The group sessions make learning fun, and the teachers make it worthwhile spending Friday evenings in a classroom.

What has been the best part of the EMBA so far?
The managerial courses and the classes from Dr Bill Collins who teaches organisational behaviour. You get to be the best leader when you really know how to manage yourself, and be honest with yourself and other people. You are forced to think about these topics from the moment you start at RSM; I like the MBA because it teaches me about myself and my own behaviour.

What do you envisage for the future?
 I used to be someone who planned his career path, but now I’m being persuaded to ‘let it happen’. The natural next step would be to get more responsibilities, and my MBA will benefit me with extra knowledge. In time, it will enable me to change the course of my career; in general I feel it gives more choices and exposes you to lots of different fields of business. Ultimately, an MBA gives you more choices to move in different directions.