After a recommendation from a friend, she sold her business assets and applied for a full-time MBA at Maastricht School of Management (MSM) in the Netherlands; thousands of miles from home.
“I did my research and saw that the MSM MBA is one of the best in the Netherlands,” Meilinda explains. “The Netherlands is a very good location for an MBA. It’s very economically stable and it’s one of the best countries to start a business in.”
In 2016, the Netherlands’ startup business climate was ranked first in Europe in a European Digital Forum report. An emergent Silicon Valley in Europe, the Netherlands’ tech startup scene has seen huge developments in clean tech, healthcare tech, virtual reality, and 3D printing in recent years.
After Meilinda graduates in September 2018, her plan is to continue as an entrepreneur; she’s thinking about setting up her own impact investing company.
She’s not alone. According to the school’s Manager Enrollment and Career Services, Hermina Kooyman, around 15% of MBA students at MSM try to start a new business immediately after graduation. The advanced technology scene means more jobs for MBA students too. Hermina says 95% of MSM MBAs typically have a full-time job within six months of graduation.
Mutende Musonda, a 2015 MSM MBA graduate and a former official at the Zambian Ministry of Agriculture, was impressed by the school’s close connections with advanced technology firms operating in the Netherlands, like Phillips, Mercedes Benz, and Microsoft.
After starting two eco-friendly businesses in the Netherlands, he’s set to return home to develop a series of commercially-viable business models for farmer training sessions and work to modernize agriculture in Zambia.
“I saw Maastricht School of Management as this global school which was going to connect me with different players in the global arena,” Mutende explains. “The Netherlands is a knowledge economy; the technology and the expertize is there. You’re talking about studying in a place where people have years of theoretical and practical knowledge of business.”
MSM offers MBA specializations in entrepreneurship and the digital economy—covering hot topics like big data analytics, cybersecurity, and Industry 4.0—as well as a one-week innovation management module at RWTH Aachen University, a leading German engineering school.
Oliver Olson, director of global education programs at MSM, says a focus on high-technology can be seen throughout the MBA curriculum. Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence are all on his radar. For 2018, a major focus is on the incorporation of online learning.
“I’ve heard from major employers—Nestle, Virgin Media, SAP—that we need to take advantage of a modern classroom,” he explains. “The lecture format, even the case study method, isn’t enough—employers want students to go through an immersive learning experience.
“We don’t want to use our classes to lecture to the students. We want students to do the required reading before class and then debate, discuss, and put into practice what they’ve learned. That’s where online learning comes in—it fills in all the gaps.
“With our MBA now, you can see it’s about flexibility,” he continues. “Our students can do it in one year in a full time setting; in two-four years in an executive format; or in two-to-four years online. And they’re not bound by any of those—they can move around.”
Maastricht School of Management reviews its MBA curriculum every year to match employers’ needs. As the high-tech sector in the Netherlands continues to boom, and high-tech topics and technology drive the MBA curriculum, the school’s MBA students are reaping the rewards.