MBA Graduation Day at the School of Business & Economics

On Friday, the 25th of September, a group of nine MBA students were expected on the campus for the very last time. Pia Camardese, their MBA Programme Coordinator, was waiting for them to help them try on their gown and cap for the graduation ceremony. Nine professionals, each with a background of their own, followed the MBA programme in different timetables, depending on their availability and work schedule. But on this day, they’re all together. Their families and friends have already gathered in the Auditorium in the main building across the yard. After having had their pictures taken, with the group as well as individually, the nine graduates move forward to the highlight of this day. It’s a proud moment for all involved, entailing closure of a phase in life that will no doubt open doors to new avenues, to new possibilities in their chosen career path as professionals.

In the Auditorium, MBA Director Dr. Boris Blumberg and Prof. Dr. Mariëlle Heijltjes, Associate Dean of the School of Business and Economics and Director of Postgraduate Education, address the graduates and their family in what is also a joyful occasion for the business school in its own right. With every new graduate finishing their programme, a new incentive is given to the professional world, a message that investing in personal development results in highly capable people who have been given the chance to fully explore their potential and talents, in all their humanity.

We asked our new alumni if they would share some of their experiences with us. After a brief group consultation, they all agreed Frank Cremers (45) and Joeri Blauw (46) were the best men for the job. Frank and Joeri reminisced about their years as MBA students. Joeri, involving Frank: “You started a module before me, right, in South Africa?” Frank swiftly agrees.

Joeri had already followed a one-year module that prepared him for the MBA, so when his former employer invited him to join the MaastrichtMBA programme, he happily accepted. Frank worked for a major organisation where the MBA was part of its staff trajectory, but changed his work environment in the course of the programme. “I went from a real big company to a small one, and for me this MBA feels like a crowning achievement to twenty years of work experience, to translate it in a theoretical framework, so to speak.”

What they think stands out at the MaastrichtMBA programme, is the combination of theory and work experience, and how the students are encouraged to share and implement their work experience throughout the modules, in group and individual assignments. Frank: “The diversity of students and the difference in age was also very inspiring, because we were confronted with different approaches to a problem or situation, and so we learned from one another as well.”

Joeri agrees:” Especially the part where we shared different solutions to a problem, that’s what I value a lot in this program!”

“There’s also the challenge we’re offered, in regard to how we apply theory into practical action,” Frank explains, “we can use what we’re taught directly in our work.” Joeri finishes the sentence: “Otherwise it would just be theory. But this way, education becomes tangible and real.”

Their expectations of the programme were exceeded beyond surprise, in a more than pleasant way. “We thought the emphasis would be on the “hard” learning material, such as the administrative side, but instead we were challenged to be involved from a personal perspective,” says Joeri while Frank nods agreeingly.

It changes your perspective as a professional if you’re encouraged and allowed to be human, and to implement this as a valuable asset all throughout your work. This affects everything in a positive way. For certain a rewarding approach.

Breakfast Booster Addresses Business Ethics

We all have our own routines when we get up in the morning and prepare for work. Some might live close to their offices and get there within the blink of their eye. Others may have to endure the slow pace of traffic when dozens of cars try to get to their destination at the same time. By now, we have learned to make the most of a situation beyond our control. So we read reports while in our car and listen to voice messages while traffic is stationary. We adapt and implement efficiency, as dutiful ambassadors of our tasks and responsibility.

The Breakfast Booster events reach beyond all that. They reach beyond the virtue of duty and the comfort of routine, by offering participants a different approach while enjoying a tasteful breakfast at Buitenplaats Vaeshartelt.

For starters, the slow pace is one by choice, in a beautifully arranged and eco-friendly environment. The element of surprise lies within the company we’ll be keeping, and the nature of the speaker’s presentation. For what task will we be given? What issues will we be invited to discuss? And how fruitful will all this turn out to be afterwards?

It wasn’t the first time for Emmy Limbourg, Adjunct-Director Finance at Zuyderland Medical Center (previously known as Atrium & Orbis) to attend the Breakfast Booster. She signed up for this 8th edition along with a participant she met during one of last year’s events. “We agreed to go together, but unfortunately she couldn’t make it, so I came alone instead,” Emmy Limbourg explained. “I received a mailing about this particular edition and liked the ambiance the previous time, so that’s why I decided to sign up again. The setting of these breakfast booster events is very informal, which makes you feel at ease rather quickly. It’s a good combination of meeting new people and learn something that can enhance your own expertise.”

A little over thirty participants gathered in Bar Sirius on the ground floor of Vaeshartelt. Everyone was randomly seated with name tags on the tables to point them where to take place. Martin Lammers, Director Business Development & Customer Relations at Maastricht University, welcomed the group and led them to the breakfast buffet. In the meantime, Prof. Dr. Harry Hummels arrived, he would provide the food for thought part of this event.

As the participants enjoyed their nourishing buffet, they also engaged in conversation with their table partners. Some of the participants already knew each other, either from previous events or because of their work and interests. Theo Peters (SBB) and Hans Franken (HF-Smart Solutions) are both members of COMB (Contactgroep Opleidingen Maastrichtse Bedrijven), matching quality education to non-commercial companies in Maastricht with the emphasis on guarding the level of education and HRD (Human Resource Development). The topic chosen by Prof. Dr. Harry Hummels zoomed in on ethics in business, which both Theo Peters and Hans Franken acknowledged as an essential part of their work and its goals.

After a brief introduction, Prof. Dr. Harry Hummels started with a bold statement. “We don’t learn from our past”, he said, in reference to Wall Street and the infamous “greed is good” signature line from the movie. “What can we consider as greed?” professor Hummels wondered out loud, addressing his audience.

“Isn’t truth in the eye of the beholder?” This prompted his next question which was answered by our BB participants. “How would we define ethics?”

Values. Standards. Rules. Mentality. Dilemma. Balance. Giving and taking responsibility. Christian values even. And within an organization or business? Ethics is a reflection of our values and standards concerning every corporate culture and within one’s own organization. The group approved. For context, professor Hummels prepared a case about the current refugee crisis and migration issues. The participants were assigned the role of representative of the Dutch government and divided in small groups who each had to discuss and decide which 500 refugees out of 5000 applications would be granted access to the Netherlands. They were given a list of criteria and characteristics of 5000 refugees in the largest Jordanian refugee camp on which they had to base their decision.

For most it was a tough call. Professor Hummels asked why. “Because we make decisions about human beings, about people.” He translated it to the environment of an organization and pointed out that having to fire people from their job is a difficult task. Others suggested organizing aid and support in the region itself would be best, for people to stay in their homeland. But also medical urgency, family reunions and the right to a certain quality of life were taken in account, as well as including the element of luck. “At random”, someone said. “We don’t choose, we let them draw tickets.” But if those who’d draw a winning ticket would want to give theirs away so a family can be reunited, that would also be accepted.

By the end of this 8th edition, different layers of ethics had been shown as well as examples of how to apply effective and efficient in business. It was a meaningful event.