Désirée van Gorp, professor and change-maker
International companies, their employees and business processes must change constantly. Working rates are increasing, activities are often spread across various countries and renovation of all kinds is a daily occurrence. This is highly demanding for employers as well as employees. At the heart of this storm of developments is the concept of innovation. “Innovation must focus on reinventing both the organization and yourself. This has everything to do with a continuous learning process,” explains Désirée van Gorp, professor of International Business at Nyenrode Business University.
Innovation cuts straight through organizations and their old structures. “Now more than ever, it’s time to achieve fast results, and that must take place through several short learning cycles,” Désirée says. “Gone are the days of lengthy processes in which people like Gyro Gearloose start working on an innovative idea back in some department. The competition often consists of players outside the sector. To cope with them, it’s important for companies to come up with new ideas in a relatively short period of time, and then share these as much as possible with partners in an ecosystem and quickly bring them to the market.”
The need for a constant renewal process isn’t the only big trend that can be seen within companies. “Global sourcing has led firms, both large and small, to move more and more of their activities abroad. With that comes a certain responsibility,” according to Désirée. “The question is then: where does that responsibility begin, and where does it end? How do you keep track of production processes, and how do you ensure, for instance, good working conditions for employees abroad who are working on products and services for your company? I think we sometimes focus too much on cutting costs and other business aspects of global sourcing, which causes us to ignore these issues until it’s too late. Fortunately, there are many examples of companies that take a proactive approach to their responsibility, thus serving as important role models and sources of inspiration for other firms to do the same.”
Sustainable value chains
Désirée functions as a central link in education in the area of innovation and the development of sustainable value chains. “Education is very important,” she says. “Nyenrode distinguishes itself in this area by offering students not only theoretical perspectives, but also the necessary practical tools with the possibility to work on concrete projects themselves. This motivates and inspires students, who are almost always enthusiastic and for that reason are likely to choose Nyenrode.”
Is Nyenrode therefore a good recommendation for anyone who stands for something, or wants to do so? “Absolutely,” Désirée believes. “Precisely because of the combination between theory and practice. Fortunately, we are not the only institution focusing on innovation and sustainable value chains, but I’m working together with my Nyenrode colleagues to constantly look for ways to translate words into actions within my field, in which theory and practice always go hand in hand and reinforce each other.”