Learning from an alumnus of your choice

Educational innovation at Nyenrode

October 22 2021

During the COVID-19 lockdown, Nyenrode Business Universiteit was also forced to switch to online education. To continue to meet its own goals and not sacrifice on the learning experience of its students, the institution developed a new form of instruction. And it was a huge success. The BYONA sessions are definitely here to stay! Lidewey van der Sluis, Professor Organizational Leadership & Talent Management at Nyenrode Business Universiteit explains.

For the past year and a half, students and lecturers have been forced to communicate remotely via technological systems to shape education.

As a key lecturer of Nyenrode Business Universiteit’s full-time MBA program, Lidewey also took on this challenge. For MBA students, studying at Nyenrode usually means giving up a good job, passing a rigorous admissions test, saying goodbye to your home country, and taking out a loan. These choices mean that they also have high expectations from our lecturers. Students expect something good in return, even during a lockdown. This requires empathy, creativity, dedication, resilience, organizational ability, and the ability to think and act on our part.

Belief in our goals

The education program at Nyenrode has to be seen against this social background. We base our program on the motto “Serving society by shaping responsible leaders”, which has been our purpose since 1946.

Even during the pandemic, our belief in this goal and purpose remained firm. And maybe because of the pandemic, we were strengthened in our mission to equip people to build organizations, to shape the future and to have confidence in a sustainable future. The fact that we had to switch to online, pained us, but it was also beyond question that we would continue our program during the lockdown, despite the doors of our university being closed.

Company visits

Before, when everything was still “normal”, company visits were an important part of the Organizational Leadership & Talent Management module. This course allows students to visit organizations both in the Netherlands and abroad, preferably companies with a Nyenrode alumnus at the helm. These company visits offer Nyenrode alumni a great opportunity to tell current students about their professional development after graduation. Students always told us this was an extremely educational, inspiring, and motivating part of the module. In other words, before COVID-19, the company visits were something MBA students always looked forward to.

This resulted in the development of a new form of education: the BYONA sessions: Bring Your Own Nyenrode Alumnus. These digital meetings, lasting two to three hours, bring current and future Nyenrode alumni together.

The BYONA sessions have been enthusiastically received by both students and teaching staff: “We found the lectures very interesting and the BYONA sessions, where practical examples and business cases of different companies from various sectors are discussed, went down very well! It is great to see that during the various lectures, you would see different students interact with the alumnus guest speaker. I was positively surprised that the Q&A sessions often start from the very first slide,” Max Walda, fulltime MBA student, says.

Charlotte Marinus, program manager of the full-time MBA, explains the initiative. “The BYONA sessions are a 100% match with what Nyenrode wants to be: innovative, practically relevant, network-oriented and state-of-the-art. It is great to see how this new educational concept is catching on. Other program managers also can’t wait to implement this concept in their programs.”

If you want to know more about these BYONA sessions, read the full article (in Dutch) or contact Program Management. 

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