"Leadership in unprecedented uncertain times"

Keynote speech by Jan Nooitgedagt during the opening of the academic year 2020-2021

According to Jan Nooitgedagt, former chair of the Foundation Board of Nyenrode, there are similarities between a pandemic and climate risks. He says the latter are now getting less attention because of the pandemic. Nooitgedagt delivered his speech ‘Leadership in unprecedented uncertain times’ at the opening of the academic year 2020-2021 at Nyenrode Business University. 

Nooitgedagt discussed the coronacrisis and its impact on and financial and social consequences for the labor market and the accountancy sector, and made the comparison with the climate problem. “Digitization has gained momentum. Plans for 3 years are now being realized in only 3 months.”

Remmelt Vetkamp MSc, CFO of Nyenrode, welcomed not only the guests who attended the opening ceremony, but also the many people who followed the event via the livestream. He discussed the new set-up in the current ‘1.5-metre society’, which allowed only a dozen guests to attend in addition to the cortege. The rest of the audience watched the livestream. Vetkamp further elaborated on the current situation regarding COVID-19, the impact on Nyenrode and the consequences for the future. 


Stijn van der Vat, student Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, explained how the coronacrisis has affected his student life. He learned a lot from the TheFAC initiative that he started in March, together with Tjibbe Steenstra. In addition to helping companies in need, it has also taught him how his generation views business compared to other generations. Van der Vat concluded his talk with the following words: “Give us millennials the stage and let us help in how we could develop organizations.”

Social care

Nooitgedagt discussed the core values of Nyenrode, Leadership - Entrepreneurship - Stewardship, in a social context, and addressed issues ranging from the (economic) crisis to the situation on the job market, and also a trial in Germany with a basic income without a quid pro quo. He asked critical questions which no-one can answer yet: “Can a basic income reduce social insecurity and polarization? Does a basic income make people more socially aware of the environment and climate risks? Macro-economically, we are experiencing unprecedentedly uncertain times.”

In addition to praising the support measures, the former chairman also expressed his concerns: “What are the consequences of investment in support measures? Is there still money available for investments in the energy transition? McKinsey calls these the so-called physical shocks with respect to financial shocks caused by a lack of confidence. This is a social concern that can lead to crashes on the financial markets and bankruptcies.”

Health care in the heat of battle

Rector Magnificus prof. dr. Miša Džoljić then formally opened the academic year 2020-2021. He talked about Nyenrode’s mission: ‘serving society by shaping responsible leaders’, and the opposite: “Society has helped us. While we worked from home, healthcare workers - nurses and doctors - were the ones who did not step back. They stood their ground in the heat of battle to help us where needed.”

The video of the entire Opening of the Academic Year 2020-2021 can be found here from September 5th.  
September 2 2020