Karin Heijink

Karin Heijink

Programme/year: OneMBA11
Nationality: Dutch
Job Title: Senior Director Music Content
Company: MTV Networks International, Emerging Markets
Age: 41 




"When you come into a new company, you have to understand very quickly how the company operates; with OneMBA I had a framework I could immediately put into practice at MTV. It’s fascinating to see our learning come off the pages of the textbook and come to life!"

Your background shows a lot of ‘humanistic’ affinities: a degree in Cultural Studies, a career in international marketing and media, and many personal and professional initiatives in terms of charitable work and education promotion. What can OneMBA do for you? 
I wanted to develop in a more generalist management route. I come from a marketing background; what I observed is that very often those who come from a more apparently ‘solid’ business background have an advantage in getting to the next level of senior management. To be able to make that next step, I thought it would be good to get an MBA, and gain an understanding of overall business, especially areas like finance and operations and HR. And I think that the OneMBA offers that to me - plus its unique international outlook, which is very important for me, as my career is within an international environment. 

How is the OneMBA impacting your current work at MTV Networks International? This is a relatively new position for you (in July 2010). 
Yes, I’ve been at MTV for four months now. And the OneMBA already really had an impact on my career. First of all, I was living in The Netherlands when I started with OneMBA; halfway through the programme I moved back to London, and that decision was made inspired by the Personal Leadership Development programme (PLD). Reflecting about key issues in PLD – what are your personal values, what are you good at, what do you enjoy – made me realise I missed living in London, and I missed working in the international media environment. So being back in London, is in part thanks to the OneMBA! 

It has been interesting entering a new company – you have to adjust yourself to what is happening, you have to see really quickly how the company operates, what the culture is like, how you get things done. In OneMBA, we had just finished the course on leading and managing global operations when I began at MTV, and immediately I could put a lot of what I learned into practice. There are things you are aware of on an intuitive basis, but the course had given me a certain framework, so I could ask better questions, understand the ‘lay of the land’, implement new processes. It’s fascinating to see this knowledge spring to life, and come off the pages of the textbook! 

As a self-funding programme participant, what is the Return on Investment you expect from OneMBA? And how does MTV feel about your programme? 
More important than the money is the support you get from the company, and not just your boss, but also especially your team. My team supports me and that helps me a lot. I’m out of the office four days every 6 to 8 weeks, and someone has to pick up the emails when I’m gone. 

I do believe strongly that OneMBA will help me further my career. It helps me to understand business as a whole, move forward, and develop on a functional level. And from a personal perspective, it had been a while since I’d been in university and had been learning new things, and I’m a big supporter of life long learning. In OneMBA you really develop yourself, get in touch with different points of view, perspectives, new frameworks and theory that can only broaden your horizon. It gives me a new outlook on life. 

Do women contribute something different than men within the OneMBA? 
What is most important, and what I really like about the OneMBA at RSM is that it is really a diverse group of people. It’s not men versus women, or engineers versus humanitarians…everyone has a different, and valuable, point of view. This diversity is really unique and adding an extra dimension. 

With your very busy schedule, how do you manage the cross-continental projects that you are doing with an international team? 
What we do in the team I work in is to have regular phone calls, scheduled at a time when everyone can do it. And within the whole global group, there is a high level of support – everyone understands that sometimes people are busy, sometimes certain people are busier than others, and those are things you manage within the group as long as everyone is upfront about it. It does take a lot of discipline – and carrying around a lot of books when I’m travelling – but there is so much you get in return. 

How have you enjoyed the Global Residencies so far? 
They have been great. Both residencies have been on familiar turf for me – in the U.S. and Turkey - so I’m really looking forward to going to Latin America, China and India. Those are regions I’ve never worked in. 

But even in Turkey…it was such an eye-opener to meet with businesses in Istanbul and see how successful they are, not only in their own country but worldwide; you come with a certain perspective on Turkey, and in the EU this view can be so politicised. Learning more about the Turkish banking system, learning about very successful international companies – that’s nothing you read about in papers, and you realise you get a very one-sided view of a country from the media. Then all of a sudden you discover this whole economy and the people behind it, and you get a completely different perspective on the country. That’s one of the key things in OneMBA for me – looking at diversity, getting that different viewpoint. 

RSM’s values (in education) include: Sustainability, Innovation, and Critical Thinking. Have you found these values expressed through the OneMBA? (You can just choose one of the three if you like!). 
Yes, especially if you’re talking about sustainability and innovation. From my perspective, the focus on emerging markets and working for the bottom of the pyramid is really important. 

It’s fascinating to see what companies are doing for the BOP, and how they manage to be successful not only from a business point of view, but from a CSR point of view. It does make you look at your own work, and ask yourself – what am I doing in terms of CSR? Is this something I should be paying more attention to? 

What has been the best part of OneMBA for you so far? And after OneMBA, what does the future hold? 
I have to say that, besides the excellent classes, it’s the people. This is an amazing group of people! Not just the whole global group, but especially the group in Rotterdam which is so diverse. People are flying in from the Middle East, from Russia, from all over – often when I arrive in Rotterdam I’m really tired because I’ve been studying hard, but when I see these people I feel energised and great! We are a group of 30 to 40 peers, and we’ve come to learn and to change our lives, and everyone is open about discussing their lives. 

That’s the best thing – I have a group of peers I can call and ask for advice and help, or just have a chat with. This is also part of the ‘widening horizons’ of OneMBA.