71st Dies Natalis: How can you make a difference with leadership?

On November 20th Nyenrode Business Universiteit celebrated its anniversary, the Dies Natalis. Nyenrode was founded in 1946 by board members of Dutch multinationals. The theme of leadership was the central focus during this 71st Dies celebration. The keynote speaker was Bob Chapman, CEO of multinational Barry Wehmiller, a company with 12,000 employees and a turnover of $3 billion. Chapman gave an inspirational speech about his mission: Truly Human Leadership.

In his introduction speech, Remmelt Vetkamp, CFO of Nyenrode, spoke about the university’s founders and the future with the new chapter called “Amsterdam". He also made the connection between Bob Chapman and Nyenrode. Chapman’s mission fits seamlessly with Nyenrode’s core values: Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Stewardship.

Job satisfaction

During his speech, Bob Chapman discussed his dream regarding leadership: instead of the moment when people say “Thank God It’s Friday”, he looks forward to the moment when people say “Thank God It’s Monday”. Most heart attacks take place on Monday morning, a topic that has been studied in the US. Illness due to stress must be reduced, Chapman says. “Working should be fun!” According to Chapman, there are a number of crucial aspects when it comes to leadership. Leadership is about acknowledgment, recognition and always looking for the good in people. “How we show leadership influences the personal health and social environment of those who we lead.”

Making a difference

“The three worst management words”, Chapman continues, “are management, supervisor and boss. And it is high time that these words are replaced in the business world by leaders, mentors and coaches. People don’t want to be managed. You make a difference with leadership, not with management.”

Because of the special fact that Chapman is in the Netherlands, Nyenrode also organized a lecture for students, alumni and business relations on the morning of the Dies. During this lecture, Bob Chapman and Prof. Nick van Dam discussed leadership and “doing what you really care about”, based on the latter’s book of the same name. Students also had the opportunity to ask questions: “What do you do if one of your 12,000 employees doesn’t believe in your leadership approach?” Chapman’s answer was clear: “Focus on the people who do understand it and have a positive attitude. Respect the position of the people who don’t support it, but don’t focus on that.”


From the Nieuwe Compagnie van Verre student association, Clay Bobeldijk, chairman of the LXXIInd Collegie der Heeren V and MSc25 student, also spoke: “At Nyenrode you are forced to become a true leader. We are taught the urgency of learning to lead instead of managing.”

Miša Džoljić reaffirmed the core of Bob Chapman’s message. “Nyenrode’s mission – ‘shaping responsible leaders’ – is not only about the present, but future generations as well. And this doesn’t just involve words, but actually showing and conveying what you believe in.”

After the Dies Natalis, the Leadership & Development event will take place at Nyenrode on 21 November. During this gathering, Bob Chapman will team up with Prof. Nick van Dam to discuss the interplay between people-oriented leadership and good business strategy. This day is being organized by EEOD Customized for 80 L&D thought leaders and specialists in the field.

Photo's of the L&D Event


Guest lecture about Truly Human Leadership with Bob Chapman