Impact case of the month: BYONA-sessions@Nyenrode
During the first corona lockdown in March of 2020, Nyenrode changed its course: Physical education spaces were transformed into online study environments. Lecturers and professors looked for and found new possibilities to provide the optimal learning experience. Professor Lidewey van der Sluis, Professor in Organizational Leadership & Talent Management, even managed to develop a new way of educating: Bring Your Own Nyenrode Alumnus (BYONA). As part of this educational concept, Van der Sluis’ MBA students invite former Nyenrodians to exchange working experiences and visions in online sessions. “If the students won’t be able to go into the world, then let’s bring the world to the students”, was Van der Sluis’ reasoning. The BYONA-sessions were a huge hit and have been permanently incorporated in Nyenrode’s international MBA program.
“With this educational innovation, we are able to connect the principles of our education with the new situation and, as such, make digital use of Nyenrode’s strength as a professional ecosystem”, says Van der Sluis.
Within the module Organizational Leadership & Talent Management of the full-time MBA program, company visits are a huge part. During those visits, students are able to take a peek behind the scenes of both national and international organizations, preferably at companies where a Nyenrode alumnus is in charge. The alumni share with the students how their professional careers have developed after graduating at Nyenrode and tell them about their insights gained in the field of leadership and talent management. Van der Sluis: “Students experience this element as an extremely valuable, educational and inspiring part of the module. The company visits also help develop new contacts and insights in the profession from the practice. These ‘company experiences’ as we like to call them really are the icing on the cake.”
To guarantee the quality of this experience also in this digital era, Van der Sluis came up with the BYONA-sessions: digital company visits with a Nyenrode alumnus of choice, who works wherever in the world. That of course is the advantage of going digital: there are no travel and time restraints. The sessions take two to three hours and are prepared by the current students. They get in touch with a Nyenrode alumnus of choice and align the content of the session with the lecturer and alumnus in groups of 4-5 students. This teaches the students to work together and to jointly carry responsibility. It also offers a great and effective way of networking. The result?
Students learn from former students and vice versa. The different generations discover new perspectives on leadership and reflect on norms, values and believes in organizations. “The format inspires and activates. It makes students think about what and how they want to move forward after their graduation, as leader, entrepreneur and as steward”, explains Van der Sluis. “At the same time, former Nyenrodians can learn from the ideas and questions of the new generation of Nyenrode students.”
The BYONA sessions receive great feedback. “I really enjoyed the BYONA-sessions. Not just because these are Nyenrode alumni, but also because of our shared experience with taking an MBA at Nyenrode. To me, it feels like a shared connection and a feeling of camaraderie. I think that this is what they mean when people talk about the Nyenrode experience. The BYONA-sessions were a highlight of the Nyenrode learning experience for me”, says Marike Beindorff, FTMBA20-21 Alumna.
Of at least one of the students we know that he has been offered a job immediately following a BYONA-session. The invited alumna was very impressed with the knowledge and learning ethic of the student concerned. They stayed in touch, and after his graduation the student could get started for her right away. A great result of only one of the 6 magical BYONA-sessions.
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