“Be aware of where you are at and act accordingly”

November 16 2021

Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Stewardship. These are the core values, embedded in all the education programs from Nyenrode Business University. In these interview series, three female participants of the Executive MBA education program tell us how they experience these LES values and to what extent the education program was able to contribute to this experience. Jacqueline Stolmeijer-Arends learned for example how contribute to society by drawing from her own strength.

Looking passed your own interest at the common interest, is what the essence is of Stewardship according to Jacqueline Stolmeijer-Arends. With her master’s degree in Law and bachelor’s degree in Art History, Jacqueline had already been working in the cultural sector for many years when she decided to start a new education program. She was looking for more in-depth and theoretical knowledge in different fields, including finance, business, accounting, HR and strategy. “To reinforce the cultural sector professionally, I contribute in various ways. In this sector, the artistic aspect is very important and I really want to link this to the importance of healthy business operations.”

Personal development

That was Stolmeijer’s intention when she started the two-year education program in 2018, as a mother of three young children at the time. And that was where she gained the knowledge she was looking for. “For the ‘Platform Governance in Culture’, which I had started together with Marceline Loudon at the same time, I instantly drew up the marketing plan as part of an assignment during the first module; it was really great to connect thinking and acting successfully right from the get go.” But to Stolmeijer it really was the personal development component that made all the difference. “Within the Executive MBA, you also start working on yourself. In a way you are forced to take ownership of your own story. This has taught me a great deal. Especially since it has helped me becoming aware of the essence of my work and life, in which man and environment are always central with an important place for art and culture.”

That is why Stewardship was an indispensable part of the Executive MBA for Stolmeijer. “The education program challenges you to think about your role, not only in your work, but also, and more importantly, within a bigger context”, she explains. “That is why it felt natural to me to match the EMBA16-ambition Leave a sustainable impact for the module in South Africa with Ikamva Labantu, an NGO which I have been working with for a number of years now as part of my administrative work for the COR Foundation (Stichting COR). We made an amount available for children’s shoes and handed it personally to founder Helen Lieberman, who shared her impressive life story with us during that same module; it was a confirmation that a small gesture can have an impact on multiple levels.”

Personal contribution

Also the advice she got during the module in San Francisco has stuck with her: Trust your guts, be confident that you, from your position and with your dedication can contribute to society. Stolmeijer: “To me, that is the power of the MBA: becoming aware of the possibilities you have as a person, awareness of where you are at as a person and acting upon that.”

During the program, Stolmeijer’s attention for man and environment became apparent as one of her natural talents. “I am curious about the other person’s story, I always wonder: what can I learn from this, how can I help the other person with his / her search and how can I connect people? But I also learned, that your strength can also be your weakness.

Receiving feedback from the group can be confronting, but is also informative.” In addition, she learned to step out of her comfort zone. “Everyone has limiting beliefs. And especially in the modules you are being challenged to deal with those and to develop yourself. I remember a simulation that taught me a great deal, especially because it did not go as I had planned.”

Growth and gratitude

Also Stolmeijer’s Platform partner Loudon noticed how well she was developing at multiple levels during the program. “She has more knowledge in the field of business and entrepreneurship and is capable of analyzing a situation extremely fast. But what I see most, is her personal development. She knows what she wants, what she stands for and uses that to her advantage. During the so-called Garden Room Sessions (Tuinkamersessies) that we organize and in which we stimulate the dialogue between different parties, she takes the role of moderator more often and with a broader view and more self-awareness.”

Now Stolmeijer has started her own company, offering business support to clients in the cultural sector in the areas of proper management & supervision, business operations and entrepreneurship. “If someone would have told me ten years ago where I would be at right now, I probably would have replied: Yes, that is exactly where I want to go. The MBA gave me the tools to get to this point and helped me answer questions such as: What is my story and what is my strength? How can I contribute to subjects I find relevant, from my knowledge and experience? And how can I be an example to my daughters? I learned that, even when it makes me feel anxious, I have to go for it when something feels right. Yes, I am extremely grateful for these two years and the opportunities they have brought me.”

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