Niels Nijs

Our students are the core of the MaastrichtMBA programme. Students with a broad diversity on nationality, age and even professional background. The insights and thoughts of our MBA students describe the true experience of MaastrichtMBA. This time we talked with our Dutch student Niels Nijs. He works as Agile Transformation Lead at ING Group, a Dutch multinational banking and financial services corporation. Niels joined our On-Campus track in September 2021.

FAST FACTS

  • Nationality: Dutch
  • Start programme: September 2021
  • Entry age: 34 years
  • Track: On-Campus – Responsible Leadership & Sustainability
  • Company: ING Group
  • Job title: Agile Transformation Lead

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO PURSUE AN MBA?

Facilitating complex change and transitions is a recurring trend in my professional life. It gives me energy by motivating teams and people to develop by challenging the status quo. It is my ambition to become a thought leader in this field, while combining my background with the art of management.

 

I perceive a figurative ceiling in my career, potentially because of frequent exposure to digital environments. Following an integral Master of Business Administration programme enables me to lay a serious business foundation, become able to support a larger amount of people and transcend myself by breaking through this ceiling. By stepping outside of my comfort zone, I am motivated to push my boundaries.

 

This executive MBA at Maastricht University supports me in acquiring meta-skills, comprehension, and self-awareness. This will serve me in both personal and professional situations and as tools (in and) for life.

WHICH SKILLS DO YOU WANT TO REFINE DURING THE ON-CAMPUS TRACK?

This MBA programme has a family-like community culture that provides a pleasant and safe learning environment which attracts me.

 

The on-campus education maximises possibilities for face-to-face engagement which facilitates unexpected public speaking and self-awareness growth. It provides me with real-world experience navigating challenging circumstances, which strengthens my ability to make smart decisions.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE FOR THE MAASTRICHTMBA PROGRAMME?

I explored multiple business schools and found that this executive MBA at Maastricht University stands out in the market for my ambitions, such as making myself more useful to many people. The quarterly programme helps me to balance work and personal commitments. The Leadership Development Trajectory programme, which almost runs throughout the entire MBA, is unique and will help me develop my leadership skills and expand my horizons. The modular approach allows for more focused learning by introducing only one MBA topic every quarter.

 

Maastricht University is among 1% of worldwide institutions with a Triple Crown accreditation. This exclusive quality indicator highlights high international reputation. The Problem Based Learning technique of Maastricht University is attractive to me because of its engaging approach. In comparison to the traditional approach in which the professor is the central figure, this is more intuitive.

 

Finally, MaastrichtMBA provides a unique focus that relates to my greatest passions: change leadership and sustainability. Such a unique and inspiring combination is hard to find.

AND WHY DID YOU CHOOSE FOR THE RESPONSIBLE LEADERSHIP & SUSTAINABILITY ELECTIVE?

As organisations become increasingly concerned about sustainability, it can be challenging to achieve both social and corporate goals. This could be achieved by balancing the interests of both internal and external stakeholder groups. I would like to learn more how organisations might accomplish this.

 

More and more employees are expressing their dissatisfaction with their employers’ unsustainable business practices. Businesses that do not adapt, risk losing their ability to find and retain exceptional talent. Management as we know it is therefore evolving towards a new form of leadership. It is becoming more purpose-driven where proximity to people and teams is essential. With purpose, leaders balance financial, social, and environmental growth, and redefine value creation to include all stakeholders. I aspire to establish this new leadership paradigm.

 

The Module of Leading Strategic Change (the famous Orshof week) appeals to me since it aims to establish a genuine vision on leadership.

HOW DO YOU THINK YOU WILL BENEFIT FROM THIS ON-CAMPUS EXECUTIVE MBA?

The On-Campus track easily lends itself for rich conversations and experiences with fellow students during class, lunch, walks and “Thirsty Thursdays” which can never be replaced by online meetings. I am convinced all these real-life experiences will have a long-lasting effect (on me).

 

The diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and professional goals of all participants expose me to new perspectives on global, social, and business issues. Being able to sit together with other participants in the same room, offers the possibility to also learn from others. This is an experience that cannot be replicated in any other manner. This exposure encourages self-reflection and personal improvement. This way, I hope to achieve new insights on professional experiences and build new behavior.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST ENJOYABLE PART OF THE COURSE SO FAR?

My past MBA module was Corporate Finance & Accounting. The lectures were given by professors at Maastricht University who have one foot in academia and the other in business. Consequently, the courses integrated academic research with real-world business experience.

 

I made new friends from all around the world. Intersession conversations with peers offered so much more than course theory alone. These dialogues were enjoyable. It is a fascinating experience to learn from others’ opinions and experiences. I loved this down-to-earth and at the same time challenging atmosphere.

AND HOW DO YOU EXPERIENCE THE MAASTRICHTMBA PROGRAMME AFTER THE CORONA BREAKOUT?

The current pandemic changed our lives. Last November 2021, I was planning to attend the famous Orshof MBA module in-person. Unfortunately, this was not feasible due to personal reasons. It felt good to experience the organisation was committed to finding a solution.

ANY TIPS FOR SOMEONE THINKING ABOUT APPLYING FOR MAASTRICHTMBA?

After significant research and reflection, I decided to apply for the programme. Consider what you hope to achieve by pursuing an MBA. Your choice can be reached by applying a limited number of selection criteria. Also take your feeling into consideration. For me, MaastrichtMBA felt the right choice.

 

Another tip is related to the quality of the programme. For our previous MBA assignment to be successful, we had to have strong ideas and contributions, not job titles. You may expect decent challenges, grounded on solid academic literature.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME NIELS. WE WISH YOU ALL THE BEST WITH YOUR MBA LEARNING JOURNEY!

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