Ruud Jacobs: Two Passions, One Goal

The MaastrichtMBA International Week: Broadening Horizons, Setting Itself Apart

The University of Maastricht is renowned for looking, and working, across borders. Its international focus is certainly clear to see in the Business School and, most notably, at MaastrichtMBA. And the epitome of that understanding is clear to see in its Students’ Week Abroad.


Each year, MaastrichtMBA sends its students to different locations where they garner exceptional information,whether about business in foreign countries or about themselves as business people and as human beings. 

Two passions, one goal

When it comes to work, Ruud Jacobs (1988) has two loves, though not entirely unrelated ones. But, because his conservatory education lacked decent business training, he wanted some experience to accompany his dream of consulting musicians and organizations to become healthy in their business.


Right now, Ruud works at Red Bee Media, a subsidiary of Ericsson. The company’s Dutch branch sells Dutch media – radio, TV, data warehousing, you name it – to media companies. He serves as Head of Managed Service Delivery and is the customer’s first point of contact for Red Bee’s operations and service delivery. He views his job as supporting his business training. Ultimately, however, he plans to go into business for himself.

Problem-based, international, diverse

MaastrichtMBA employs problem-based learning, which enhances relevant and practical experience, hones problem-solving skills, and promotes independent learning. Ruud says he found that style of teaching especially appealing.


“I have to say the introduction days were what convinced me to do my degree in Maastricht. We had the chance to meet other students and attend a variety of classes, all of which I really enjoyed. I loved how international the MaastrichtMBA programme is. The group is extremely diverse and open. It all felt very encouraging.”


Ruud took a job at Ericsson and, for a while, he was teaching music at three different music schools while maintaining his practice – not an easy task.

“I wanted to increase my knowledge of business so I could pour that back into my passion for music. Right now, local orchestras depend on subsidies, which can be taken away the moment the funder doesn’t think it’s worth its while anymore. For example, two orchestras in the southern Netherlands were forced to merge when funding for both shrank suddenly and severely. The same thing has happened in the east of the country. In each case, a lot of people lost or will lose their jobs.”

Two weeks abroad

Each year, the MaastrichtMBA programme sends its students on an outbound module and an International Week in a different country, such as Brazil, China, South Africa, and many others.


Ruud took part in the outbound module Leading Strategic Change at the Orshof Institute in Belgium. This one takes the form of a retreat and focuses on all forms of perception, whether of oneself or of others.


“The visit to Orshof sounded a little bit, well, airy-fairy for business students – what with all the yoga, meditation, dance, and everything else – but everyone really loved it. It’s the only place where you will learn about true self-perception in a highly trusting environment. I think this is unique to the MaastrichtMBA. In most cases, schools teach leadership from a book.”

Optimism in an unlikely place

Later on in his study, Ruud’s class spent their International Week at the University of Stellenbosch Business School in Cape Town, South Africa. By his account, it could not have been more different to the outbound module but was equally useful. The group learned about microfinancing and the people there create start-ups in a country that still has many obstacles to overcome.


“I was amazed at the degree of optimism among the people running small businesses in the townships. After learning about the work they are doing, we had the opportunity to help them grow their businesses based on everything we had learned.”


Businesses in South Africa are much more likely to think in terms of cradle-to-cradle manufacturing, design, and usage. Because of very limited resources, however, this is harder to accomplish in the townships.

“The visit to Stellenbosch gave me enormous hope for the future. The people there don’t have any of the security that we have in terms of work or materials. Yet they go on to create something wonderful from nothing. It made me see the world in a different way. But between this and the week in Orshof, my weeks abroad were by far the highlights of the programme.”

And the future?

“When I was studying music, I found I really missed learning about the business aspect of being a musician. My long-term goal, at least five years down the line, is to open my own consultancy in which I work with local governments, music conservatories, and local orchestras, always looking at the business aspect of music. For all these reasons, getting an MBA was the logical step for me.”

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