Webinar series ‘Moving Forward Together’ gets a follow-up

A follow-up series of our initiative ‘Moving Forward Together’ will kick off on May 28, shining a light on the next phase of the pandemic.

‘The human leader: what if it all started with me?’

With the UM Star Lectures, Maastricht University wants to facilitate its alumni by bringing the university to them. The lectures offer the opportunity to meet each other in an informal way and at the same time to get inspired and share academic insights and experiences. On Thursday 6 February, Star Lectures took place in 14 different cities in 5 countries. UMIO’s director Mariëlle Heijltjes was responsible for the Star Lecture in Düsseldorf with the title ‘The human leader: what if it all started with me?’.

The lecture in Düsseldorf was the third Star Lecture that Prof. Dr. Mariëlle Heijltjes provided. In the past, she already spoke in Munich and Cologne. About a hundred alumni came to the atmospheric Maxhaus to meet and listen to the lecture about leadership.

“I wanted to paint a picture of what the attendees should pay attention to when shaping their own leadership role, show them which elements play a role in this”, says Heijltjes. “I think this is a very important topic because in today’s complex world, as a leader you can literally make or break people’s well-being and productivity.”

How to be a human leader?

“In that complex world of digitalisation, sustainability and globalisation, as a leader you must constantly navigate between directive and empowering behaviour”, Heijltjes continues. “Because on the one hand you have to maintain a certain order – after all, you have to deal with a budget, objectives and operate within set legal and moral frameworks – and at the same time you have to keep people inspired because the work is too complex to only follow the rules.

To successfully navigate between these two potentially opposing leadership behaviours, you need to be aware of how you respond to paradoxes and complexity. In stress situations, the default reaction is to close the shutters and fall back on existing (behavioural) patterns that you feel comfortable with. However, another option is to notice that you are doing that and to consciously work on remaining open-minded and curious with the aim of continuing to move forward. With the latter attitude, the chances that you keep your employees motivated and engaged are much greater. However, this requires a certain internal flexibility and resilience. So to be a human leader, you must be prepared to work with how your emotions, behaviour and thoughts interact. That way, you can better understand what you do well and what you still need to learn. If you are willing to keep investigating how that works for you, it becomes easier to navigate a complex environment.”

Interested and enthusiastic

During and after the lecture, there was a lot of interaction with the attendees. Heijltjes: “I had set up an interactive lecture so that everyone could actively participate. That worked out well; the audience was interested and enthusiastic. Because most attendees have experience with leadership roles, I think what we discussed provided them with words to express what they already knew intuitively and had experienced. That led to recognition, introspection and a lively debate.”

Pictures: UM Alumni Office

UMIO designs and provides leadership training of DAS-CAM programme

One of the key needs identified by the European Society of Cardiology is the training of future leaders in arrhythmia management and research. For this purpose, the educational programme ‘Diploma of Advanced Studies in Cardiac Arrhythmia Management’ (DAS-CAM) has been established. UMIO designs and facilitates the Leadership Development Trajectory that is part of several modules of this two-year programme. At the end of January, the participants gathered in Brussels for module 5 on ventricular tachycardia.

The DAS-CAM programme is a joint collaboration between Maastricht University Medical Center (MUMC+), European Heart Academy (EHA) and the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA). This unique course trains future leaders in arrhythmology from all over the world to deliver state-of the-art cardiovascular services.

Excel as a leader

In addition to substantive training in cardiac arrhythmia management, the cardiologists and electrophysiologists also learn how to excel in a managerial position. This is done through a Leadership Development Trajectory designed by UMIO and facilitated by Prof. Dr. Marielle Heijltjes, Prof. Dr. Piet Eichholtz, Martin Lammers, Prof. Dr. Jan Cobbenhagen, Prof. Dr. Simon de Jong and former colleagues of SBE, Prof. Dr. Hein Schreuder and Prof. Dr. Anneloes Raes.

At the end of January, the module on ventricular tachycardia took place in Brussels. On behalf of UMIO, Prof. Dr. Simon de Jong and Prof. Dr. Anneloes Raes provided the leadership sessions of this module.

The current group of 32 participants is the second batch since the start of the DAS-CAM programme. Their first module took place in February 2019 and their eighth and last module will take place in October this year.

More information

Do you want to know more about the DAS-CAM programme? Then go to the DAS-CAM page on this website.

Photos: Diana Berdún Mingo 

Personal and professional development: an MBA case study

This article originally appeared in Ambition, AMBA’s thought leadership publication (in print and online), and has been republished on this website with the permission of AMBA.

Author: Tim Dhoul (Content Editor, AMBA & BGA)

Google Key Account Manager and Digital Marketing Consultant, Guy Luchting, tells Tim Dhoul how studying for an MBA has impacted his career journey.

While studying for his bachelor’s degree in the Netherlands, Guy Luchting was selected for an internship at Dutch multinational, Heineken. The application process was unusual. Interviewees, including Guy, were secretly filmed as they responded to unexpected situations, such as being led to the interview room by the hand or the interviewer passing out mid-interview.

The resulting footage was used to create a viral marketing video, which amassed 2.8 million views within a week and has now had more than 5 million views. Known as ‘The Candidate’, it picked up a Gold Lion PR award at 2013’s Cannes Lions Festival. For Guy, who hails from Germany, it was an early opportunity to gauge where his career interests lay.

He reflects: ‘I was a great fan of Heineken advertising back in the day; I was studying hospitality management and watched all of the company’s YouTube videos. I see now that this was the beginning of my passion for advertising and creativity – I just didn’t know it then. Overall, it was an amazing opportunity, and an amazing stunt.’

The public attention the campaign, and associated footage, received took a little longer for Guy to come to terms with. ‘In the beginning, it was a lot of attention,’ he recalls. ‘I got recognised on the street, for example. I know this is weird, but it took me some time to say, proudly, that I was part of this, without feeling like I was showing off.’

Ultimately, however, he is grateful for the experience and how he benefited from it: ‘What I got from the internship was that I wanted to work in a creative advertising agency. I still follow what Heineken is doing. I think the company is a pioneer and an example of best practice in advertising.’

Developing a personal vision

Fast forward six years and Guy is now a Key Account Manager and Digital Marketing Consultant at Google, based in Dublin, working with clients who represent some of Germany’s top retail chains.

‘It’s a mixture [that involves] advising them on the digital market, technical troubleshooting and stakeholder management,’ he says, explaining that his role takes him to his home country of Germany frequently for meetings and workshops on product solutions with clients.

Guy Luchting.

Guy’s current role is his first since completing an MBA at ESCP Europe and the latest instalment in a career journey that has provided ongoing insights into what motivates him at work and what he excels at.

He explains that his desire to join Google stemmed from his Business School experience. ‘At ESCP, I developed a personal vision, and from that, I derived what I wanted to do and identified companies that would be aligned with this vision. Google was one of these companies. I wanted to work in an international environment and to learn from the best. When I read the job description and the nature of the job, I was hooked. I was reading it and I thought, “this is me”.’

Guy believes that it is not a job he could have done prior to his MBA. ‘Without it, my mindset would not have been ready to apply for a company like Google,’ he says.

Despite the current ‘techlash’ against Silicon Valley’s tech giants, he is quick to emphasise the strength of Google’s position when it comes to recruiting top talent. ‘If you are into business, but business with a purposeful twist, and you want to have an impact, then this is the company to work for,’ he argues. ‘The culture at Google is unique in so many ways that it will attract, and hopefully, retain people who are looking for something more, who are open-minded and see the big picture. I think that Google will continue to attract great talent, especially MBAs.’

While he does not feel able to comment on the current debate around privacy and the EU’s introduction of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018, he points to the importance Google places on its users. ‘The users are the centre of everything,’ he says. ‘Without them, Google wouldn’t be anything. If you don’t respect that, there won’t be a business and you won’t achieve anything. Google is a purposeful company, it’s more than earning money, it’s all the services that Google users can use for free, such as Google Maps, Gmail and Android [the mobile operating system developed by Google].’

Purposeful twist

This ‘purposeful twist’ is something Guy had been searching for prior to his MBA, when the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party rose to prominence in Germany ahead of the country’s federal elections in 2017. ‘The AfD gained a lot of traction in Germany and I was really shocked, thinking “this is not the Germany I want to believe in”,’ he explains.

At the time, he was working in Hamburg for the creative advertising agency, Jung von Matt/Havel, but took the opportunity to move to the company’s Berlin office to work on the election campaign for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

This project, during which he coordinated the production of advertising across TV, online and social media channels and drew up presentations for his superior to present to the Chancellor, was his last at the agency before he opted to embark on an MBA.

‘I was looking to change, although I never thought I would do a master’s degree. Then a friend of mine applied for Harvard and I thought, “well, if he is applying for Harvard, I can at least try for a master’s!”’.

ESCP Europe stood out because of its international dimension, the programme’s length and the fact that it would not require him to sit the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). ‘I was scared of
the GMAT and was working 10-14 hours a day already, plus weekends, and I thought, “I’m never going to be able to do that”,’ he admits.

‘It was all really spontaneous, but I liked the admissions process; it felt personal and I think you can see this in the people who joined the MBA. I went to the Berlin campus and was talking to a programme manager and one other person involved in the MBA. It was a nice, open talk and you could really tell what ESCP was about.’

Valuing diversity

Guy took full advantage of ESCP Europe’s international and multi-campus opportunities. ‘I did half a year in Paris and half a year in Madrid, and I went to Turin, London and Berlin,’ he says, before enthusing about the varied (personal and professional) backgrounds of his classmates; one had been working in Syria’s oil industry while another was a former shopping centre manager from the Philippines, for example. This level of diversity was valuable, although he admits he ‘should have asked way more questions and listened more’.

Having finished the programme in the summer of 2018, the class remains in touch, reuniting for graduation in December and establishing an active WhatsApp group. One of Guy’s former classmate even started working at Google at the same time as him, allowing for frequent catch ups.

Guy stresses that his MBA boosted both his personal and professional development. ‘It helped me to develop myself and my
self-confidence, to learn and strategise about my future,’ he says. He also valued the School’s use of the case study method greatly. ‘I enjoyed the cases – you really saw what the main problem is and how one can go about solving it,’ he says, adding that this has helped him to apply a more structured approach to problem solving in his current role.

Eight months into his job at Google and armed with a greater awareness of his career aims and motivations, Guy is focusing on developing in his current role.

‘My priority is to learn my job well; it’s complex and challenging,’ he says. ‘I enjoy working with clients and giving presentations, and I like the proactiveness and the business approach of sales.’

While he does not know what the future might hold, he is fully aware of the part his MBA experience has played in getting him to where he is now. ‘Without it, I would not be where I am,’ he admits. ‘I am really happy right now. It really changed my life.’

Catching up with BISCI: ambitious agenda to create digital and sustainable supply chain innovation

Set up by Maastricht University and the Province of Limburg in early 2019, the Brightlands Institute for Supply Chain Innovation (BISCI) drives state-of-the art digital and sustainable supply chain innovation, combining expertise from knowledge institutions, businesses and government. Our colleagues from the School of Business and Economics (SBE) caught up with BISCI’s business development director Ton Geurts and BISCI’s scientific director Bart Vos.

Among other things, they discussed how BISCI can contribute to a more sustainable world, the Maastricht Sustainability Institute (MSI) joining SBE and the first annual Supply Chain Innovation Conference in February.

Full interview

You can read the full interview with Ton and Bart here.

Resultaten onderzoek naar draagvlak tweetalig onderwijs bekend

Is er in Limburg draagvlak voor het aanbieden van Nederlands- én Duitstalig onderwijs op vmbo-niveau? Dat onderzocht UMIO’s Service Science Factory (SSF) eind 2019 in opdracht van Provincie Limburg. In december presenteerde het verantwoordelijke projectteam de onderzoeksresultaten. Wij spraken met projectleider Dominique Meyers van SSF.

“Duits is nog steeds een populair vak op middelbare scholen in Limburg, terwijl de populariteit in de rest van Nederland afneemt”, geeft Dominique Meyers aan. “De toevoeging van Duitstalig onderwijs binnen het vmbo kan op termijn zorgen voor een betere aansluiting van vraag en aanbod op de Euregionale arbeidsmarkt. Daarom heeft Provincie Limburg ons gevraagd om het draagvlak voor tweetalig onderwijs te onderzoeken.”

Belangrijkste resultaten

“We hebben het onderzoek holistisch aangepakt”, vervolgt Meyers. “Dit betekent dat we deskresearch hebben gecombineerd met uitvoerig kwalitatief en kwantitatief onderzoek. Daarnaast hebben we alle belangrijke stakeholders bij het onderzoek betrokken.”

In de onderzoeksresultaten wordt onderscheid gemaakt tussen de volgende stakeholders: leerlingen, ouders, scholen, grensinformatiepunten en belangenverenigingen van werkgevers.


Uit het onderzoek blijkt dat bijna 50% van de bevraagde vmbo-leerlingen inziet dat tweetalig onderwijs kan leiden tot een betere baan. Wel denken ze dat de tweetalige studie hen 50% extra tijd gaat kosten. Daardoor is slechts 20% van de bevraagde leerlingen bereid om ook echt ervoor te kiezen.

Verder blijkt dat leerlingen in de hoge vmbo-stromen meer interesse hebben in tweetalig onderwijs en ook meer bereid zijn om in Duitsland te werken, terwijl juist de leerlingen in de lagere, technische stromen er meer baat bij kunnen hebben. Daarnaast blijken leerlingen met hoge cijfers voor Duits meer interesse te hebben in tweetalig onderwijs dan leerlingen met lage cijfers.


Van de bevraagde ouders zou 50% hun kind inschrijven voor tweetalig onderwijs. Van die 50% zou 65% extra willen betalen hiervoor. 94% van de ouders gaf aan dat ze in staat zijn om hun kinderen te helpen met huiswerk of taken voor het vak Duits.


Vertegenwoordigers van scholen in de regio geven aan te willen meewerken aan een internationale regio, maar tegelijkertijd veel uitdagingen te zien op dat vlak. Voorbeelden zijn de motivatie van leerlingen, de vereiste basiskennis van de Duitse taal bij leerlingen en financiële steun voor het opleiden en begeleiden van leerkrachten.


Deze partijen geven aan dat onderwijs over de cultuurverschillen tussen beide landen cruciaal is bij tweetalig onderwijs. Zo moet aandacht worden besteed aan de hiërarchische structuur en formele omgangsvormen binnen Duitse organisaties.


De belangenverenigingen MKB Limburg en IHK Aachen zien aan beide kanten van de grens grote tekorten aan technisch geschoold personeel. Het aantal Nederlanders dat in Duitsland werkt, is relatief laag. Duitse bedrijven werven ook niet actief in Nederland, omdat de technische opleidingen in eigen land meer de diepte in gaan terwijl in Nederland de opleidingen breder zijn ingestoken en medewerkers zich on the job kunnen specialiseren.

Dominique Meyers, tweede van links, met de overige leden van het projectteam.


“Op basis van deze resultaten hebben we een adviesrapport opgesteld voor de provincie”, aldus Meyers. “Zo adviseren we om meer bewustzijn te creëren bij alle stakeholders – maar vooral ouders en leerlingen – over de meerwaarde van tweetaligheid. Ook raden we aan om klein te beginnen; eerst additionele taallessen en daarna eventueel uitbreiden. Verder moet er bij de invoering van tweetalig onderwijs voor certificatie worden gezorgd. Hierdoor kunnen leerlingen achteraf met een certificaat of diploma aantonen wat ze hebben gepresteerd. Een laatste belangrijk punt is het activeren van Duitse bedrijven, bijvoorbeeld door stageplekken en bedrijfsbezoeken te regelen bij deze bedrijven. Zo wordt de Duitse arbeidsmarkt tastbaar voor de leerlingen.”

Het cluster Economie en Innovatie van Provincie Limburg is zeer tevreden over het eindresultaat. De onderzoeksresultaten en het adviesrapport vormen de basis voor overleg over de te nemen stappen in 2020.

UMind takes Problem Based Learning to the next level

Maastricht University is known for its Problem Based Learning (PBL), where students learn in small tutorial groups under the supervision of a tutor. In order to bring PBL to the next level and make use of digital innovations, the UM I-portfolio Board sponsors initiatives. Within the university BISS (Brightlands Institute for Smart Society), IDS (Institute for Data Science) and SSF (UMIO’s Service Science Factory) collaborated on the project UMind: a new digital tool to identify knowledge gaps with students and tutors during, before and after the tutorial sessions.

UMind provides students with a digital interface where they can create relational mind-maps to visualise the knowledge they have acquired. The data generated by making these mind-maps is analysed by a smart system and provides tutors as well as students with insights of what the entire tutorial group has learnt. Perhaps even more important, it also identifies knowledge gaps.

Great example of collaboration

This project is a great example of collaboration between various disciplines at Maastricht University. The project was initiated by BISS, as the institute operates at the cross-section of education, business, data science, artificial intelligence and philosophy. IDS analysed how to combine the mind-maps and delivered the technique in order to provide a valuable digital tool to the users.

SSF was approached by BISS to facilitate a design sprint to validate the project. In addition, SSF further developed the solution together with a small group of International Business students from Maastricht’s School of Business and Economics (SBE). Finally, students and teachers from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS) were involved because the Political philosophy course, coordinated by one of the BISS PI’s, Darian Meacham, was chosen as a pilot course to test this new tool. The next step is to run another pilot to further validate and develop the solution.

Contact us

Are you interested in working on the edge of research and society connected to digitalisation, validating your research or collecting societal challenges? Please contact BISS at You can find more information about BISS on

If you want to know how SSF can help you improve your existing services or develop new service concepts, please contact us at


Peter Sampers appointed as member of NWO’s audit committee

As of 1 January 2020, Prof. Dr. Peter Sampers RA has been appointed as external member of the audit committee at the Dutch Research Council (NWO). Sampers is professor at the Accounting and Information Management Department of the School of Business and Economics (SBE) and has been involved in UMIO’s iEMFC programme since 2002.

Peter Sampers

NWO funds scientific research at public research institutions in the Netherlands, especially universities, and covers all scientific disciplines and fields of research. It has earned the status of a public-interest entity and is therefore subject to stricter and more independent oversight. SBE and the Accounting and Information Management Department are very pleased to have a department member who is entrusted with such a significant position.

UMIO brings Design Thinking to Cape Town

In November, UMIO’s Carmen Vonken and Dominique Meyers taught an elective course about Design Thinking and Innovation at the University of Stellenbosch Business School. We spoke to them about their experiences in South Africa. 

Design Thinking is a method for solving problems or developing new products and services in a practical and creative way. “It is a user-centered discipline that is very practical and pragmatic”, Carmen Vonken explains.

During the Elective Week of the Executive MBA programme at University of Stellenbosch Business School, the students had to go through a so-called design sprint. Carmen: “This is a process in which you work from a challenge to a solution within a fixed time frame. The students worked in groups on a fictional case that they could fill in themselves. The starting point had to be a challenge for a company near the university, for example a shop or a restaurant. Part of the design sprint is the development of a customer journey. This is the path a consumer follows before, during and after purchasing a certain product or service. Many students indicated in advance that this was nothing new, that they already knew everything about customer journeys. However, immediately after the session they discovered that they had never worked out a real customer journey and that much more is possible than they knew from the books. That was an eye opener for them.”

How it started

Every three years, UMIO welcomes Executive MBA students from the University of Stellenbosch Business School for a European Management Residency. The residency is part of a fruitful and ongoing partnership between Maastricht University’s School of Business and Economics and University of Stellenbosch Business School. For the July 2018 residency, the content of the programme was adjusted; the focus was shifted from EU Business Themes to Design Thinking and Innovation.

The week in Maastricht turned out to be a great success with many positive reactions from students. “During the residency, professor Marlize Terblanche-Smit concluded that her business school was in structural need of more depth in the field of Design Thinking”, says Dominique Meyers. “I then suggested devoting an elective to this topic for the Elective Week of their Executive MBA programme. At the end of 2018, we received a request to prepare a proposal for the Elective Week of 2019. The continuation of the elective depended on the interest of the students. Ultimately, no fewer than 26 students chose our elective, which meant that Carmen and I could travel to Cape Town in November.”

A great success

The elective about Design Thinking and Innovation was a great success, with both trainers receiving many positive reactions from the students. Dominique: “It was a bit exciting in advance, since it was the first time that we taught this elective abroad. In addition, we were warned that South African students usually first see which way the wind blows. That also appeared to be the case during the first day; many students were enthusiastic but also critical. On the second day, they came loose. We had apparently shown that we knew what we were talking about. The atmosphere became more relaxed and we laughed a lot. The students asked many questions, they were also constantly busy with the question: what does this mean for my business? That was very inspiring to see.”

“What the students really appreciated is that we, as teachers, have a good command of the knowledge and the material because we implement it within the business community through our projects”, says Carmen. “This allows us to quote many examples of what we have experienced ourselves and what we hear from companies. They also appreciated the interactivity of the elective. They found it useful to be able to apply the theory to their own case. That was a nice change from the theoretical methods that they normally deal with within the MBA programme.”

Next year

In principle, the elective was a one-off assignment, but given the positive reactions from the students and professor Terblanche-Smit, Carmen and Dominique expect that they will also be able to submit a proposal for the 2020 Elective Week. “The official feedback has yet to come in”, says Dominique. “With bad evaluations we would no longer receive an invitation, but the feedback in class was very positive so we do not expect that at all.”

Successful Breakfast Booster event on Empathy in Business

Could empathy be the key for business to unlock competitive advantage, or does it compromise efficiency and performance? This was the central question during UMIO’s Break Booster on Friday 13 December. In this workshop, Dr. Lukas Figge explored the most important questions concerning empathy in an interactive and experiential way.

Empathy has two levels. The first one is about relating to the feelings and emotions that another person is experiencing. The second one, which is often forgotten, is the ability to identify and fulfil another person’s needs and thereby contribute to his or her well-being.

Empathy is a hot topic in business nowadays. Just google it and you will find many articles highlighting the benefits of empathy for innovation, employee engagement, customer satisfaction, organisational learning and financial performance. However, apply it with care. Empathy can also have opposite effects if it comes at the expense of addressing sensitive issues that are crucial to delivering results.

Sketching a theoretical framework

About 30 professionals attended the Breakfast Booster with Lukas Figge at UMIO Café in Maastricht. Lukas is lecturer in Strategy & Entrepreneurship at Maastricht University’s School of Business and Economics and works as innovator and trainer at UMIO.

After a delicious breakfast, Lukas started by explaining that empathy at best has an instrumental function in Milton Friedman’s liberal worldview: use it when it increases profits. This is in contrast to the stakeholder model, in which empathy itself has more intrinsic value. He then sketched a framework, including the work of Brene Brown on courageous leadership and the work of Marshal Rosenberg on non-violent communication. This immediately made the playing field clear to the participants.

Are we doing the right things?

The basic assumption of the framework is that every person on this planet is experiencing feelings right now. Those feelings are caused by the fulfillment or non-fulfillment of universal and life-enriching needs. As an exercise, participants then had to identify and share their own feelings and needs of the moment.

This was followed by a group assignment. In groups of five, they explored and discussed benefits and downsides of empathy. The term effectiveness came out remarkably often in the results, for most groups as an advantage of empathy and for some groups as a disadvantage. Apparently, empathy has a lot of influence on effectiveness and therefore on the question ‘Are we doing the right things?’.

Unlocking collaborative advantage

At the end of the session, Lukas explained that studies show that empathic care can jeopardise personal gains and benefits in competitive contexts where value capture is more important than value creation. However, it has major benefits for value creation and unlocking the collaborative advantage in organisations through the stimulation of connection, motivation and well-being.

Interesting and educational

This Breakfast Booster turned out to be an interesting and educational workshop with a group of enthusiastic professionals who were really working with each other and with Lukas. Everyone went home (or to work) happy and satisfied, because the workshop met the following needs of the participants: stimulation, collaboration, community, joy, presence, inspiration, discovery and learning.