Shannon Kenedy from North Carolina, United States of America, and Thao Nguyen from Vietnam are halfway through their one-year Full-time MBA Program at Nyenrode Business University. Shannon’s goal is ‘to gain more confidence in her business acumen’, while Thao states she wants ‘to learn to connect architecture, business and sustainability’.
Shannon has worked in Customer Success, Sales and Marketing. “After I taught English in Taiwan for 6 months, it got me thinking on an international level. I wanted to know how different markets work and the local ways of doing business.” When she worked at Game Plan – a start-up providing eLearnings for professional and college athletes – she realized: “I wasn’t able to analyze as critically as I wanted. Shannon decided to build on her education at Nyenrode, to gain a stronger business skill set: “I wanted to learn more about what is strategically going on with different businesses and how business leaders decide on the best moves forward”.
Thao has been an architect for 8 years in the hospitality field. “I realized that only focusing on aesthetic and technical aspects is not enough to make successful hotels and resorts. There are other critical factors such as market understanding or investment budgets.” Thao therefore decided to build on education and learn how to make the most out of the available budget. “My goal is to connect this business part with design, and I want to explore sustainability more to apply it in my future projects. This is a big issue in my country, while the Netherlands is very active in this field.”
Both international students are first timers in Europe. Shannon: “I wanted the full international experience to expand my horizon. I have an apartment in the Jordaan-area in Amsterdam, and love to be part of the culture.” Her main criteria for choosing a university were practicality and a diverse program. “When I found Nyenrode it felt like ding ding ding, it just all added up. I get to learn from CEOs and apply the knowledge to real companies in Europe”. Shannon continues: “The classes are intense, but with amazing professors. I was able to apply the knowledge of the Big Data and Strategy classes to my former employer Game Plan, making valuable suggestions for the future of the company. That’s what I call real life critical thinking.”
Thao lives in Diemen and explains her choice for Nyenrode: “My bosses spoke highly of Nyenrode and I loved the vibe of the Nyenrode community when I was reaching out to the alumni: they are helpful, they love their works, and they proud of the university. After talking to the Program Manager, I was also fascinated that they know each student on a personal level, and I felt like the program content is tailor-made exactly for what I need—both are very important to me”. Shannon adds: “Nyenrode has small classes, which makes it possible to really get to know each other. We actually celebrate our global holidays together, like Thanksgiving and Sinterklaas.” Both students admit that the pandemic makes things harder, but they get creative: “We have Online Friday Happy Hour on Team, a game night thing. I am also planning a 5-day bike trip through several cities with some classmates. Exploring this beautiful country on bikes would be a very Dutch way to see more of the Netherlands!”, says Thao.
When asked about what’s next Shannon states that she is still deciding on what route to take: “I want to stay in the athletic sphere and explore the possibilities in Customer Success Management and Marketing. Thankfully, there are major career opportunities in all these fields here in the Netherlands.” Thao aims to one day start her own consultancy firm for hospitality development in Vietnam: “I aim to become a connecting node among architecture, hospitality, and business. I’ll help the hospitality developers efficiently build high quality and sustainable projects, without wasting money and providing a good environment for people.”
Thao joined the Stewardship Committee of the Student Association at Nyenrode to learn more about sustainability. She also pushes herself to become a better presenter: “To be a successful entrepreneur, I think only good ideas and sharp problem-solving skills aren’t enough. I need good presentation skills which can convincingly convey my ideas and motivate people. The Personal Leadership Program equips me with the skills I need to follow my dream.” Shannon adds: “It’s easy to get lost in the assignments but the leadership program helps you to look at how everything applies after graduation.” She aims to by then have broadened her horizon, to use her newly gained business knowledge at an athletic company and to have built in-depth relationships. “I will carry the network of classmates and professors of Nyenrode with me for life.”