MBA in Amsterdam: educational, but also just fun

December 11 2019

There are many international students at Nyenrode Business University, such as Natacha Rodrigues Soares from Brazil and Sabri Assali from Canada. Both have just started the one-year Full-time MBA program. Here they tell us about their studies and their new lives in Amsterdam.

“At the beginning of this year, South America signed a trade agreement with Europe. That made me want to learn more about the European market: how everything works, how people do business, how they negotiate and so on,” says Brazilian student Natacha on her decision to pursue an MBA in Europe. “I then chose Nyenrode due to the content of the program. You learn to do business, but at the same time focus on making a positive impact on society. That really appealed to me. I also chose Nyenrode because a relatively high number of female students enroll in this Full-time MBA.” Sabri previously studied in the Middle East and North America, and was eager to add Europe to the list. He had two reasons for choosing Nyenrode: “First, the small classes here compared to other universities. Second, the program includes several forward-thinking topics, such as big data. You don’t see that in many other MBA programs. I can use my knowledge in those areas to make better decisions in the future.”

Diversity and sustainability

“I want to improve myself and expand my knowledge,” Natacha says about her expectations of the MBA program. “For example, I learned that you shouldn't wait long when it comes to entrepreneurship, but instead just go for it. I'm open to all the possibilities that Nyenrode brings my way. I'm also part of a committee within the student organization where we discuss diversity, female leaders, hiring people with a disability etc. There seem to be so many things that are indirectly related to doing business.” Sabri has a background in engineering but lacks the basic knowledge of business management. He thinks the MBA is a good choice to fill this gap. But that’s not all he hopes to achieve. “In the future, I’d like to become a business consultant in the area of sustainability, ideally at a large company. I want to further develop and roll out my business in Europe as well. This business focuses on developing smart distribution systems that can deliver energy in an extremely efficient manner. The basic knowledge of business management that I’ll soon have will help in this effort. But there’s also an incubator at Nyenrode that can assist with things like advice about legal aspects in order to operate in Europe. The Nyenrode network will be useful in this regard, too. The university has good contacts with banks and consultancy firms in the area of sustainability.”

Connecting with business leaders

All of the international students are looking forward to the ‘Meet the CEOs Sessions’. At these sessions, students meet various CEOs of large companies and can share their thoughts with them and pitch their ideas. “I’m also looking forward to the Nyenrode Breakfast Sessions, which draw numerous participating companies,” Sabri says. “The companies present a problem they are currently facing, and then students have to come up with a solution within 20 minutes. That’s definitely very useful for people who want to work in consultancy.”

Both Sabri and Natacha have been elected to be part of the JCV Board of 2020. Sabri as the Vice-President and Natacha as Commissioner. The Youngest Company from Afar (JCV) is the student association of Nyenrode Business University in Amsterdam, which aims to bring students of all kinds of backgrounds, both Dutch and international, together by organizing a variety of leisure and business-related activities.

Full-time MBA Sabri & Natacha 3_compressed

Getting used to the Dutch culture

“I thought it was interesting to explore a new city,” Sabri says about his first few weeks in Amsterdam. But he was suprised with how long it took to arrange everything, like a bank account and a BSN number. “That takes getting used to when you come from a country like Canada, where those kinds of things can be sorted more quickly. But besides that, it’s been a very positive experience so far.” Is there anything else that particularly stood out to him? “The number of bikes!”

Natacha is enthusiastic about studying in Amsterdam as well. “I really like the diversity of my fellow students. There are lots of different cultures. We share our experiences with the Dutch culture, which we all have to get used to. And the directness of Dutch people,” she says with a laugh. Sabri agrees, but also appreciates that characteristic. Natacha: “I wish there were more hours in the day. There are so many things that we want to see and learn. Studying in Amsterdam is like Pandora’s box. I think it’s a nice experience.”

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