Be the change you want to see

For anyone who is interested in our MaastrichtMBA programme, attending a class experience or talking to one of our students or alumni is the ideal introduction. And every once in a while, we interview members of our growing MBA community to share their stories. Even when you have reached the end of our programme, the network you have become a part of will be yours for life! This time we asked Charbel Haddad to answer some of our questions. Please continue for a story about change and transformation.

Can you tell us something about yourself and why you decided to sign up for the MaastrichtMBA programme?

May I start by saying I am a better listener than I am a talker? But I will give it a try. My name is Charbel Haddad, I am 38 years old and married. I was born in Lebanon where I’ve lived most of my life. I studied telecom engineering and I am a working professional for fifteen years in a mostly technical context, with some pre-sales and project management. I moved around between various multinational companies like Siemens and Ericsson, and now I am working for a mobile operator in Luxembourg.

For a long time I wanted to pursue an MBA education, but the timing was never right. After relocating to Luxembourg, my current employer provided me with the time and stability to commit myself to four weeks a year. I chose Maastricht for several reasons. First, it is modular, which suits both my employer and myself. Second, I’ve read some very positive reviews about the programme, and they’re Triple Crown accredited. The international and diverse character is a major plus, it’s easy for me to blend in among students from many other countries. Maastricht is also just two hours away from where I work and live, so I can travel by car and I am still close to my family in case of an emergency.

When will you graduate?

Well, I started the programme in September 2015, so in a few weeks, sadly enough, I will have my last module, Entrepreneurship. Right after that, I have to start working on my Business Consulting Project. Hopefully, and I am being really optimistic here, I can finish by the end of the year.

Do you use what you’re learning in your work already?

In my current position as a technical expert, at this point, the answer would have to be no. However, this programme has given me the flexibility and tools necessary to deal with topics from different perspectives compared to just my engineering perspective. I’ve learned to discuss with people from all practices, and now I can use appropriate language with different people. This is really helpful. I am now better equipped to voice my opinion in organisational and business matters, which I was lacking before because I didn’t have the vocabulary. The most interesting part of the MaastrichtMBA for me was the Leadership Development Trajectory. In my situation, being a leader without authority is much more important. I am not a manager so my leadership comes from my expertise. The coaching sessions and the module on Leading Strategic Change changed the way I look at things and at people. I started to listen more carefully, observe better and I don’t jump to conclusions as fast as I used to. I am more open to other people’s opinion. In my area of expertise I was really a control freak (laughs) and convinced of my own opinion, but now I can relax better and value other opinions as well.

Was it hard to let go of the old concepts and notions about yourself?

Yes, it was, but that’s the good thing about the trajectory. It is spread over a period of one or two years. There is lots of room and time to practice.

What are your plans for using the MBA in the future?

In the short term, I would like to remain in the telecom world but move to a management position, preferably in business development. For the longer term, I have a few business ideas to explore, maybe I will end up having my own business. At the moment I think I have acquired the necessary skills that will come in handy at one point in time. So, this is my plan so far and I hope to find the courage to take action after I finish the MBA.

Is the programme what you expected or hoped for?

Honestly, the programme surpassed my expectations in many aspects. Especially in the international mix, I didn’t imagine it would be this big. The focus on the leadership module and the sustainability context was also a surprise for me. But coming from a non-business background, I only wish I’d had more time to dive deeper into the literature and market cases in the short, compact week. I would have loved to get more theory, but in some areas it was really unexpected, and I really appreciated it.

Are there points of improvement as far as the content of the programme is concerned?

I know it is impossible to fit everything within one week, but maybe some theoretical lectures can be compacted. Some modules really have basic theory, maybe this can be shortened to give more time to case studies and market insights. One of the improvements that they did in the last couple of modules is that they brought in more people from the business world or from the alumni. They should continue to do that because it’s really important. And maybe instead of one long presentation, make it two or three short ones instead? It gives a lot of insight, about what is happening and how the alumni do their business.

How would you describe the group of students you have been working with these past years?

It was more than I wished for with a great group of people. Naturally I feel closer to the people in the group I started with, and it is sad to see them leave the programme one by one, but it’s okay. We had a great time.

And did cultural differences, in a positive way, matter when communicating with people or was it irrelevant?

For me it was natural. Having different nationalities brings more diversity and richness, experiences and cultures. Before I came to Europe in June 2013, I worked in about fifteen different countries. In my previous jobs I travelled a lot, and believe me, I experienced completely different cultures so I am used to that kind of difference. Maybe it is in our genes, as Lebanese, we adapt easily to the culture we are living in.

If you could have a say in how to change the world for the better, what would you do, or advise? Also in the context of the MBA programme with what you learned about leadership, what would be necessary?

The old me would have said we would need a magical wand to fix the world, according to my beliefs.  After the MBA, my favourite quote now is Gandhi’s “be the change you want to see in the world,” so my advice to change the world would be, stop looking for solutions outside yourselves. The solution always starts within, so we have to first look inwards. This will make us rediscover what really matters to us and show us what we need to do. It’s what I learned from the Leadership Development Trajectory and what I try to apply in my daily life now.

The MBA programme also ranked pretty high at the Corporate Knights Best World Ranking 2016 for their Sustainability Footprint in the programme. It was the first time they were listed, among many renowned business schools. Is sustainability something that should become a standard goal in business and corporate life?

Sustainability was a big issue for me. I agree with this point and I hope it becomes strictly regulated. I was not even aware that sustainability and corporate social responsibility were taught in an MBA programme. From what I knew, classical MBA was all about financial profit. I was relieved to see that the MaastrichtMBA was focusing on this subject in each module. I was afraid of having an inconsistency between what I believe and what I should be writing in a business paper (writing something profit-driven, while I don’t really believe in pure financial profit). So this was a huge relief! It was all very beneficial, and I hope to benefit from every moment I learned.

Eduniversal’s 2017 Best Masters & MBAs Rankings

On April 11th, Eduniversal published the 2017 issue of their Best Masters & MBAs Ranking, which again confirmed the MaastrichtMBA as one of the world’s best part-time executive MBA programmes and Maastricht University School of Business and Economics as one of the world’s top business schools. Ranked alongside the MBAs of renowned institutes, such as London Business School, INSEAD, Copenhagen Business School and University of Mannheim Business School, Maastricht University SBE gains continuous acknowledgement and appreciation from the global community of leading ranking bodies for its high-quality MBA provision.

Headquartered in Paris, Eduniversal is a global ranking and rating agency specialising in higher education. The company has established strong expertise in evaluating academic institutions and programmes in France since 1994, and internationally since 2007. Every year they issue the Best Business Schools Ranking (published in February, click here to see our accompanying press release) as well as the Best Masters and MBAs Ranking. These rankings are designed to provide information to prospective graduate students that will help them in their search for their future studies in the following geographical zones: Africa, Central Asia, Eastern Europe, Eurasia & Middle East, Far East Asia, Latin America, North America, Oceania, Western Europe.

Eduniversal’s mission is twofold. First, they aim to provide the tools and expertise to enable individuals, regardless of nationality, income level or background, to be able to navigate the best global educational opportunities and to make the right personal choices, from selecting an academic institution to choosing a career. Second, they aspire to provide an in-depth view on global academic expertise to all stakeholders of higher education with the goal of actively supporting international exchanges between schools, encouraging mobility for professors and students, and assisting HR professionals to identify specialised talent.

The MaastrichtMBA amongst the world’s best executive MBAs!

On April 5th, CEO Magazine released its 2017 Global MBA Rankings, which feature over 290 MBA, Executive MBA and Online MBA Programmes worldwide. After a pleasing Tier One rank in 2016, The MaastrichtMBA now claims 13th place overall in CEO’s Global Executive MBAs ranking and was announced the best executive MBA programme offered on Dutch soil!

The complete CEO Magazine Global MBA Rankings 2017 can be viewed in the latest edition of CEO Magazine or online on the magazine’s website.

CEO Magazine has been showcasing top business schools from around the globe since it first launched in 2008. In 2012 the publication launched its annual Global MBA Rankings, profiling MBA, Executive MBA and Online MBA programmes. This year CEO Magazine reached out to business schools across North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the BRICS, and received responses from over 160 institutions – a 20 per cent increase in submissions from 2016.

Using a ranking system entirely geared and weighted to fact-based criteria, CEO Magazine aims to cut through the noise and provide potential students with a performance benchmark for those schools under review.

25 years of the Maastricht Treaty: Party or Hangover?

Source: Maastricht University (

The signing of the Maastricht Treaty marked the first step towards the establishment of the European Union (EU) as we know it today. Now, 25 years later, it is time to take stock. Has the EU lived up to expectations? Is it up to the task of addressing the problems of our time – the euro crisis, the refugee crisis, Brexit and rising anti-European populism, with Trump as just the latest variation on this theme? Has the ideal of an integrated Europe become obsolete? We asked a number of Maastricht professors for their views on the institution under fire. Monica Claes, professor of European and Comparative Constitutional Law, and Bruno de Witte, professor of European Law, set the ball rolling.

When asked what there is to celebrate, the professors fall silent. Claes starts to chuckle, and eventually De Witte speaks up: “Celebrate is such a difficult word. Why celebrate something like that? Of course, it was an important moment in the sense that it made the EU what it is today. So it marks an important step whose consequences – both positive and negative – we’re still experiencing today.”

“It was a turning point”, Claes agrees. “Before the Maastricht Treaty people weren’t all that concerned with Europe. That was the moment when public opinion woke up. It was a shock for the European elite, who suddenly realised they hadn’t been paying enough attention.”

“Yes, in France the treaty was only very narrowly approved”, De Witte adds. “Things could easily have been different. It passed with around 51 or 52% in favour. I think many people voted no out of uncertainty. It was something new, something that was sold as an important step in European integration, but one with an uncertain outcome. That kind of conservative reflex also plays a role in the strong anti-European sentiment we’re seeing today.”

Would you call the treaty a success?

De Witte: “I think many things would be done differently if we had the chance again. The core of the treaty, the economic and monetary union, remains controversial. I think it was a good idea, but in practice certain aspects didn’t pan out well. European citizenship was one innovation of the treaty. Another was the fact that the European parliament not only plays an advisory role, but can also be co-legislator. That system works pretty well, better than some people thought it would. And the cooperation in the areas of migration, criminal law and police has been very successful. But you could have some structural criticisms of the treaty; for example, was all that text really necessary? Why didn’t they just make one very general article – ‘we’ll establish a European Central Bank to govern the EU’s monetary policy’ – like you see in the Dutch constitution? A number of the rules later turned out to be impediments to action during the economic and financial crisis.”

Back then the European Community had 12 member states, as opposed to 28 now. Was it a mistake to admit so many countries?

De Witte: “The disintegration of the EU has to do with the accession of countries with very different views. The differences between East and West are becoming increasingly apparent.” Claes: “Whether it was a mistake depends on what you want to achieve, but I have to say the Big Bang of 2004 [the accession of the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Malta, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania] marked the end of a certain kind of Europe. The EU became much larger and more diverse. You could regret that because progress is faster with a smaller, more homogeneous group, but what was the alternative?”

De Witte: “Mitterand had an alternative at the time: a European confederation. He felt you had to do something with the countries that emerged from the Soviet bloc. In a European confederation they’d be part of the EU, but not full member states. That proposal was quickly shot down, but actually it wasn’t such a bad idea. The problem with admitting so many member states is that it hinders decision making. In the last few years we’ve seen a number of the new countries, notably Hungary and Poland, being generally uncooperative and standing in the way of progress.”

How can the EU be made more effective, especially when it comes to the influx of refugees?

De Witte: “It’s very difficult. A big part of the problem is the negative way Europe is portrayed. To give a recent example: the perpetrator of the attack in Berlin travelled through Europe via the Netherlands, Belgium and France, and ended up being shot in Italy. What was the response in the media? ‘We have to abolish Schengen – the free movement of people is just not on. It’s outrageous that criminals can move around freely.’ Absurd, because what this story actually shows is that the various police forces in Europe work very well together. It was thanks to that European cooperation, made possible by the Schengen Agreement among other things, that they managed to find him.”

Claes: “And where the European institutions want to achieve all sorts of things, it’s the member states that hold them back and then say ‘Europe is doing nothing’. The member states are constantly blocking initiatives and yet the institutions get the blame. National politicians ought to be more honest about this, but it would mean delivering messages that wouldn’t win them any votes. The alternative for Europe is to go back to the nation state; just look at Brexit. More and more people are calling for that in the Netherlands too, but the problems we face – migration, the environment – are ones that require cooperation. It’s an illusion that you could deal with the problems of our time by building a wall or becoming more inward-looking. But that’s a message politicians don’t want to have to sell, which sometimes makes me despondent. Of course the EU needs constant improvement. I’m not saying the EU as it is today is ideal, but it’s clear to me that there needs to be an EU. There was another treaty before the Maastricht Treaty, a Dutch plan that went even further, called for closer integration. Not one other member state supported it; it’s known as Black Monday here. What happened to the Netherlands?”

De Witte: “It’s especially sad when you see that this country is doing really well. You could imagine something like that in Greece, but here?” Claes: “Support for Europe dropped from the moment the Netherlands turned from a net recipient into a net contributor. Then of course there’s the rise of populism, which is stronger in the Netherlands than in some other countries.” De Witte: “And yet no other country has benefited more from European cooperation than the Netherlands. Take the harbour of Rotterdam, importing and exporting products from all over Western Europe. A lot of that wouldn’t have happened without the EU.”

Claes: “Europe’s problem is actually how successful it’s been. What brought about the desire for European integration? No more war – we want peace and prosperity. We’ve achieved that and now everyone thinks Europe is just getting in the way. The EU gave us what we wanted and now we don’t need it anymore. Maybe we can no longer imagine what our world would look like without Europe, as our parents could.”

Perhaps the EU as an institution has become obsolete, unable to make decisions?

De Witte: “Not at all, things are forever being decided, but the press only reports on things that fall through. All sorts of agreements are constantly being made and there’s an everyday routine that works well, but no one takes any notice of that. Fortunately attention is sometimes paid to the successes; take the climate agreement in Paris in late 2015. The EU played a big role in that, and within the EU, too, very far-reaching climate policy measures have been agreed on. The system works better than you might expect.”

Claes: “It’s in crisis situations and on very sensitive topics that things can go wrong, because decisions have to be made by consensus. That’s difficult these days because a compromise is no longer seen as a victory, but rather as a kind of loss. You didn’t get your way. That’s something we’re seeing in national politics, too, not only at the European level. In a compromise you take into account the interests of others you’re not necessarily in agreement with. But nowadays the majority just wants what the majority wants and it’s no longer about getting the best for everyone. That’s a change in the contemporary conception of democracy, and it’s magnified at the European level. Europe is facing a crisis, but it’s primarily a crisis of democracy, of politics. Are things really so bad in Europe when you compare it with places like the US?”

De Witte: “And Russia. The US functions many times worse than the EU. That’s a political system based on full-frontal opposition, where in recent years you have two camps outright blocking one other. But here, too, the idea of compromise has been lost, and that leads to the election of radical types who no longer have any sense of the public interest, careful governance and the role of the US in the world. That someone like Trump can be elected as president shows, I think, that the political system is not working. Could his presidency lead to another crisis, and thus problems for the EU? We’re now seeing the consequences of his election in terms of defence policy; people are talking about more far-reaching cooperation in this area. Incidentally, cooperation on defence was another thing the Maastricht Treaty initiated, very modestly, but still. Looking back it was definitely the most important treaty in the history of European integration.”

Monica Claes (1968) is professor of European and Comparative Constitutional Law at Maastricht University. Her research focuses on the interaction between European and national constitutional law.

Bruno de Witte (1955) is professor of European Law at Maastricht University and part-time professor of Law at the European University Institute in Florence. He is also co-director of the Maastricht Centre for European Law and involved with various journals, including the European Human Rights Law Review and the European Constitutional Law Review.

Eduniversal 2016 Business School Ranking Results

The ninth edition of the Eduniversal World Convention held in Perth, Australia, brought together 250 representatives from the world’s best business schools including Harvard Business School, London Business School, Copenhagen Business School, Melbourne Business School and Fudan University School of Management.

More than 120 schools from 50 countries participated in this event, which promotes the internationalisation of higher education and the mobility of students. At the Convention Gala Dinner, in the presence of Her Excellency the Honorable Kerry Sanderson AC, Governor of Western Australia, and several ambassadors to countries of the academic institutions ranked, the 2016 ranking of the World’s 1000 Best Business Schools as selected by 1000 deans was unveiled and the three best academic institutions by geographical area were rewarded with a prize.

Maastricht University School of Business and Economics – home of the MaastrichtMBA programme – again was awarded a prestigious Five Palms of Excellence rating, which proofs our business school’s strong global influence.

The World’s 1000 Best Business Schools

The results of the 2016 Dean’s Vote survey were officially announced at the 9th World Eduniversal Convention in Perth, Australia. Each Dean’s vote was transformed into a recommendation rate (‰) that students and other actors in the academic world can use to evaluate and compare the different academic institutions selected by Eduniversal. The annual survey continued to grow strongly in 2016, with a participation rate of more than 70%.

The entire 2016 ranking of the World’s 1000 Best Business Schools and the detailed methodology is available on the website

A unique ranking

The 1000 business schools in the Official Eduniversal Selection are selected by the International Scientific Committee, composed of nine independent academic experts* recognised in their geographical zone, after careful evaluation. The objective is to establish a global mapping that considers the international influence and reputation of each selected institution. Thus, the EES (Eduniversal Evaluation System) compiles and analyses hundreds of data from global, national and regional higher education systems, taking into account the accreditations, the results of other rankings and the distinctions obtained in the country of the schools analysed.

For the ranking of the 1000 Best Business Schools, the EES designates among the thousands of institutions listed in 154 countries, those that will integrate the ranking. The number of schools and universities allocated per country is determined according to a quota method using quantitative and qualitative criteria (macroeconomic, historical and cultural data).

Eduniversal then classifies institutions according to their international reputation at the national and international level as well as by geographical zone. After their selection, the institutions are divided into five leagues of excellence or “Palmes of Excellence”. A “Palme of Excellence” level (1 to 5) is assigned for each of the schools selected according to the set of internationalisation criteria defined by the International Scientific Committee. Their classification in their league is then determined according to the evaluation made during the Deans’ Vote Survey.

The Dean’s Vote is an exclusive feature of the EES, in which the Deans and Directors of the 1,000 best selected global institutions pass their recommendations on each of the 1,000 institutions selected in the 154 countries. The number of recommendations collected then determines the ranking for each of them within each “Palme of Excellence” or league.

About Eduniversal

Headquartered in Paris, France, Eduniversal is a global ranking and rating agency specialised in higher education. The company has established a strong expertise in evaluating academic institutions and programmes in France since 1994, and internationally since 2007.

In 2008, after establishing a global map of the 1000 Best Business Schools in 154 countries, Eduniversal decided to highlight the expertise of these Institutions ( In 2011, they launched the first Worldwide Ranking of Masters and MBAs in 30 fields of study ( These rankings are designed to provide information to prospective graduate students that will help them in their search for their future studies in the following nine geographical zones: Africa, Central Asia, Eastern Europe, Eurasia & Middle East, Far East Asia, Latin America, North America, Oceania, Western Europe.

The Eduniversal ranking is published once a year and is announced at the annual Eduniversal World Convention. For the past 9 years, this Convention welcomes the most prestigious professionals in the higher education industry, giving them the opportunity to interact with their international counterparts and meet potential partners.

Turning the Page

During the two-year MaastrichtMBA programme, the flexible modular setup allows for students to mix and mingle beyond the group they started with. Newcomers may find themselves collaborating with students who are already in one of their final modules, which most certainly adds an interesting dimension to the programme. Given the fact that each professional also brings his own work and life experience to the MBA, even the most casual meeting of minds can result in something vibrant and unique.

Hery Randrianantoandro resides in London, UK. As a Business Development Manager with seventeen years of experience, he signed up for the MaastrichtMBA programme in 2014. Just recently, in September, he was in town for his last module. Yves Frissen, Manager Facility Services at Maastricht University Medical Centre (MUMC) started as an MBA student earlier this year, 2016. They engaged in a lively conversation, sharing experiences and expectations. Yves wondered about Hery’s perception of the last day.

Walking the talk

“Yes, this is my last day, these are my last couple of hours,” Hery answered. “But it’s not the end. There is still the Business Consulting Project I have to prepare. The feeling however is that I’ve made the journey. I went through those eight modules, which was tough. But I feel it’s time now to turn the page, and practice what I learned. It is not about learning anymore.”

“Are you confident you can use what you learned?” Yves asked in his next question. Hery had no doubts whatsoever. “It’s proven itself from a career point of view already,” and Hery shared his story from the start: “I recently moved from a big company to a smaller company in London.  Only recently I added the MBA to my resume on Linkedin. And guess what? I got people calling me every week asking if I wanted to work for them.” Hery was amused and Yves surprised. “But you haven’t even graduated yet!” Yves said. Just by adding the MaastrichtMBA credentials, Hery’s employability gained power. That’s how well the MaastrichtMBA programme is received by the corporate business network.

Immediate results

Another fascinating development occurred when Hery was interviewed for the job position he currently holds. It wasn’t a traditional interview. The company decided they wanted their candidates to come up with a twenty-minutes presentation, how to successfully launch their product. Hery felt lucky, because the most recent MBA module dealt with strategic marketing and other aspects of what the company required their candidates to do. “I used my MBA books for the marketing presentation and my findings convinced the company I was the right person for the job. They were very impressed with the solutions I offered and how I offered them.”

For Yves, who is merely at the beginning of his MBA experience, Hery’s stories filled him with encouragement, experiences and plenty of energy. “My background is Hotel Management, and the main focus this week regarding leadership, is close to what I was taught to do. So I had certain expectations. The reality of this week’s module, however, showed me something else. I was used to simulating knowledge as a method of learning, but here we deal with real life. Like the experiences you shared are all examples of real life. That’s the main difference, I think, between this MBA programme and a regular school education.”

The bottom line

Hery agreed wholeheartedly. “What I learned, I will apply and use and continue to use every day. You will see, and you will also learn to reshape yourself, and refocus.” Yves is already convinced. “Yes, that’s the point of it all. You have to apply what you learn, otherwise you can’t get to the bottom of it, and you can’t really understand the concept unless you try and fail.”

Yves recalls a recent session with dr. Peter Berends that made quite an impression. It taught him the difference between cognitive learning and really experiencing or feeling the energy in a room or in a group when having to make decisions. “Understanding it, seeing it, and feeling it when it actually happens and how it’s all different, that really was an eye-opener to me.”

Growing Commitment to Sustainability Education in Business

Today Corporate Knights released the 14th edition of the Better World MBA Ranking, which is the only major global ranking to evaluate graduate business programmes on their integration of sustainability into the education of future business leaders. For this reason, we are extremely proud to mention that The MaastrichtMBA, supported and endorsed by Maastricht University School of Business and Economics, ranked 22nd in its very first attempt to join the big league of global MBAs with a notable sustainable footprint!

Click here to view the 2016 ranking results.

People and Planet versus Profit

Compared to traditional MBA rankings, the Better World MBA ranking is designed to help students and corporate leaders identify solid programmes that have the infrastructure to support sustainability skills and knowledge. The rules-based ranking also recognises those programmes which best prepare graduates to solve business problems that intersect with larger social problems, such as climate change and inequality. The Better World MBA ranking evaluates the top 100 programmes on the 2016 FT Global MBA ranking, and invites all other accredited (AMBA, AACSB, EQUIS) programmes to opt-in. This year, Corporate Knights evaluated 123 programs in total.

One of the findings is that most of the best MBA programmes in the world for sustainability are not the same usual suspects that dominate traditional MBA rankings, which tend to be a function of salary-based metrics.

On average, the Top 40 Better World MBA Ranking offered students more than twice as much exposure to sustainability themes than the FT 100 Global MBA Ranking. It is also notable that 32 of the FT 100 MBA Ranked programmes do not have a single core course focused on a sustainability topic.

“Business schools have a major role to play in preparing the leaders of the future to solve the people-planet-prosperity equation. We are pleased to see an increasing number of business schools stepping up to the plate on this front and look forward to continued progress,” said Toby Heaps, CEO of Corporate Knights.

The Sustainability Footprint

Eligible programmes are assessed on the number of core courses related to sustainability (which includes corporate responsibility and ethics), institutes and centres devoted to the field, and faculty research related to sustainability produced in the last three years. The ranking is designed to be objective, transparent, and encourage participation. The Better World MBA ranking was formerly known as the Knight Schools ranking, focusing on Canadian schools since its inception in 2005 until 2012, when it expanded to become a global ranking that is more representative of the type of choices that MBA students have when selecting a programme.

About Corporate Knights

Founded in 2002, Corporate Knights is a Toronto-based media and research company focused on clean capitalism – an economic system that incorporates social, economic and ecological factors – and reports on sustainability at the intersection of business and society. As a “Magazine of the Year” winner in 2013 from the National Magazine Awards in Canada, Corporate Knights is best known for rules-based transparent rankings of corporate sustainability performance, including the Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada and the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World. Learn more at


Source: Corporate Knights   |   Edited by: Maastricht University

Students Representing Students: The Bigger Picture

michaela-harmEver since the MaastrichtMBA programme in its current format was launched, the number of professionals taking an interest grows with each application and intake. To safeguard a smooth and effective communication and evaluation process, it was decided to appoint two student representatives who would fulfil various intermediary tasks during the course of their two-year programme. Harm Mulder and Michaela Schütte volunteered and were chosen by majority.

Harm’s executive position in Education Management at the ROC Leeuwenborgh School in Maastricht and proximity to Maastricht probably played a significant role in why he was chosen as a student representative. “My age may also have been of importance, ” Harm smiles. “I am one of the oldest in the group. My fellow students must have deemed my 51 years the right age for the job.” Michaela, who works and lives in Paris, was already familiar with the purpose and role of a student representative council since her college years in Bielefeld, Germany. “Back then, I liked to be part of the creation process behind education instead of just being a consumer. I wanted dialogue with the faculty. So instead of sitting in the classroom and complaining about things that might need improvement, I joined the student representative council.”

Small-scale teaching is key

In periodical meetings with MBA director Boris Blumberg and programme coordinator Pia Camardese, Harm and Michaela share questions and concerns they collect in talks with their fellow students. Harm: “I did explain it’s not our task to be solving individual problems, and that our primary focus would be what’s beneficial to the group.” Michaela adds that apart from small concerns, there are helpful recommendations for fine-tuning and constructive feedback towards the MBA programme. The first concern raised, immediately turned into their first achievement: to bring down the size of the student group that had grown large by creating two smaller, better manageable units. Both Harm and Michaela agree there’s definitely positive dynamics in the reciprocity of communication, transforming suggestions and wishes into noticeable adjustments in form, structure or application of the programme.

Triple Crown means learning from feedback

As a Triple Crown accredited business school, the MaastrichtMBA programme recently managed to prolong its EQUIS reaccreditation for another period of five years, the longest period possible. Collaborating with students, recognising their value as professionals and respecting and learning from their opinion, can only contribute to an accumulative quality of the programme in the long run. For Michaela, Maastricht has proven to be the right choice. Her work as a financial and process director for a non-profit organisation in the field of preventive medicine and public health can be demanding. “The modular setup of the programme enables me to focus for a whole week each time, without the risk of getting distracted. I’m also a mother of two young children, (7 and 5 years old), so I have a full professional and private life. To be able to focus on my personal development, as a woman and mother, but as a professional as well, is extra rewarding if you consider what we accomplish by reaching our goals as student representatives. Looking behind the curtains and to know I can contribute in the process of making sure all of our different needs meet and match somehow, makes me feel very proud!”

“Learning new things is fun”

Harm engaged in a similar programme at Zuyd University before he signed up for the MaastrichtMBA programme. His job evolves around education, and he enjoys learning. Up until recently, his whole family could be found studying when at home. “Learning new things is fun. Meeting new people from different countries, in different age groups and with different goals is always good. I particularly like the modular setting, which continuously mixes experienced students with the newly enrolled ones. Very refreshing. We learn to step out of our comfort zones, which isn’t easy for everyone. To be part of this challenge, and to also be able to look at it from my professional perspective in education management provides for an interesting learning experience.”

“Learning on the Job” at MaastrichtMBA

Our programme is key to a promising future, blending professional ambition and personal growth

The MaastrichtMBA programme is aimed at working professionals looking to enhance their career options by recognising and developing the management and leadership skills they need to succeed in their demanding work environment. The average MaastrichtMBA student initially graduated from university or a business school quite some time ago, and now holds a managerial position or another job with large responsibilities. Our programme is key to a promising future, blending professional ambition and personal growth. A mission that not only resonates among the participants in the programme. In our organisation too, the MaastrichtMBA team walks that talk.

“… I am given real responsibilities and have to account for my actions, and as such learn from experience.”

Jordi Jansen (21) is preparing for his bachelor’s degree in International Business at Maastricht University School of Business and Economics. His major is Finance and Accounting, but he joined the MaastrichtMBA team in August 2015 as a Marketing & Communications Assistant. “It’s not the same as being an intern,” Jordi explains. “This is a real job, next to my studies. My tasks are not just to support the staff members in their work and “do as I am told”, no, I am given real responsibilities and have to account for my actions, and as such learn from experience. This is a great organisation, everyone is open and friendly. They welcomed me as an equal, my views, opinions and ideas are valued, which is unusual from a student’s perspective, I think. But that’s what makes this MaastrichtMBA team feel like a family. These values and vision reflect on the professionals who follow our programme as well!”

Jordi has to excel in time management by now, combining his studies at Maastricht University, his job as a Marketing & Communications Assistant, another job at a local grand café and a steady relationship. He smiles. “I like challenges and love to be able to develop myself and do different things. And I make sure there is time enough to spend with my girlfriend, next to my studies and my jobs. There is even time for sports and exercise, because I like to live a healthy lifestyle.”

For Jordi, being part of this professional MBA team, the learning experience presses on the reality of having a job with responsibility while Ron Jacobs, Marketing Manager at MaastrichtMBA, guides their youngest team member back on track in case he strays off focus. For Jordi, it’s all part of a challenge he accepted with enthusiasm and growing confidence.

As such he’s very proud his idea to recruit new students and ‘to get the word out’ about the MaastrichtMBA programme materialised in a new concept for events: MaastrichtMBA Goes Places. “The idea came up in a meeting,” says Jordi, “when we discussed our target market in relation to the physical distance of major business hubs in for example the Randstad area, Brussels, Cologne and big industrial zones. How can we reach potential students in those areas and make them consider our programme as a future option?”

“…former students are the best ambassadors for our current programme!”

Jordi compared some of the current strategies and added the possibility of exploring new avenues. Instead of inviting people to come to Maastricht, why not take the MaastrichtMBA to those major business hubs? “We started with Aachen, and have plans for Eindhoven, Rotterdam, Brussels and Düsseldorf. Of course there are more cities to choose from, but this is an event that needs time to grow and settle. Cooperating with others is important. Fortunately, we can count on our alumni, because former students are the best ambassadors for our current programme! The road team consists of a MaastrichtMBA staff member and a small pool of MBA alumni who are very motivated to share their stories. Getting this event in shape requires dedication and hard work, like finding suitable venues for meetings and presentations, and get connected to the right target groups.”

“Working as a Marketing Assistant at MaastrichtMBA has taught me a lot about myself…”

Another assignment for Jordi is managing the official website and the use of social media for promotional purposes of the MaastrichtMBA. “Working here has improved my skills using web content management systems and other programmes and resources. I have also learned to be more punctual and pay attention to detail, which for students, as you can probably imagine, is not top priority. Working as a Marketing Assistant at MaastrichtMBA has taught me a lot about myself and I hope to benefit from this experience in my future career as a full-time professional!”

Bringing a Taste of Uganda to the MaastrichtMBA!

He has a very busy schedule, but managed to spare some time to talk to us and share his experience as a MaastrichtMBA student so far. Musa Kiggundu Muwanga (42) is one of the founders and current CEO of NOGAMU: the National Organic Agricultural Movement of Uganda. The parent company was established in 2001, but Musa wasn’t involved fulltime until two years later, in 2003. Naturally, we were very curious to find out how Musa was introduced to our MaastrichtMBA!

“The modular format of four weeks a year works for me…”

Musa: “Given the nature of my work, I wanted to attend an MBA, but for me it was crucial to find an MBA that would focus on gaining practical knowledge and would relate to the realities of current global trading and business I encounter in my work. That was not easy to find, for most MBAs focus on achieving academic merit or lacked other conditions suitable for me. I searched around on the Internet and asked in my extensive network of friends and business relations. That’s how I was made aware of the collaboration between an institute of management in South Africa and the MaastrichtMBA. So basically I followed recommendations, visited the website of the MBA programme in Maastricht and was soon convinced that Maastricht University’s approach would fit my conditions. Because I have to travel a lot for work, I can’t take time away for one month, five months or half a year. The modular format of four weeks a year works for me because this way, I can plan in combination with my business meetings and trips in Europe.”

“…the educational weeks and interactions with fellow students enable me to expand my knowledge…”

Uganda, like many other African countries, faces challenges every day. However, it’s a beautiful country, rich in natural resources and soil, and as such creates opportunities for people to try and build a living of their own. Farming is a logical choice for many living in the rural areas. Musa stems from a family of farmers. He went to university in Uganda and also studied at the University of Greenwich in the UK. He is passionate about organic agriculture and wants to help build a healthy future for farmers in Uganda. His company facilitates in many areas of which education, marketing and export are key activities. “This is why the MaastrichtMBA programme can be very helpful,” Musa explains, “because the educational weeks and interactions with fellow students enable me to expand my knowledge on marketing and finances.”

“…I learned how to develop a plan for Uganda to export on a higher scale and provide a better livelihood for our farmers.”

Spending a week in Cologne for an MBA week that was organised in close collaboration with CBS, Cologne Business School, kept Musa “close to his roots”, since the main topic of discussion that week evolved around sustainability. With a group of around 40 fellow professionals, various angles and views on sustainability came to light. It was a good week according to Musa, who attended different sessions. What stood out for him were the sessions about financing, the sustainable supply chain and business ethics. “We export products like coffee, bananas and spices to Europe, Japan and the USA but now I learned how to develop a plan for Uganda to export on a higher scale and provide a better livelihood for our farmers. And that is our goal, our mission. To improve business for our farmers, who are already improving the food chain by growing organic fruit, vegetables and coffee.”