Back to the future

SBE’s 80s reunion. They were some of the first students of the Maastricht University School of Business and Economics (SBE), then part of the Rijksuniversiteit Limburg.And they’re back! In October 2010, a reunion will take place for former students who graduated in 1984, 1985 and 1986. If this is you, you are heartily invited back to your alma mater for a day of friendship and fun. Professors and tutors from the time are most welcome as well.

The keynote speaker will be Tom van ‘t Hek, the dynamic Dutch hockey player and coach of the 1980s and ‘90s. Also on the programme is the world-renowned professor emeritus Geert Hofstede, whose pioneering research still plays a key role in dealing with the cultural dimensions of international business. He will speak about the latest developments in his field, and also officially launch his new Geert Hofstede Fund. The day will include an interactive activity to get everyone involved, and finish up with – what else? – a festive borrel.

Utterly unique

On the reunion organising committee is Ger Slangen, who graduated from the Business Economics programme in 1991. Now, he works as a business consultant for Illumni Consulting, a Euregional firm specialised in the optimisation of business processes. But back then? He was just a kid keen to dive into the Maastricht education system, which at the time represented a brand new approach to learning.

“It’s true – my choice of university was completely thanks to Problem-Based Learning. Back then, Maastricht’s PBL approach was new and dynamic. What is now considered ‘the norm’ here was then utterly unique. Working in small, committed groups required a combination of substantive knowledge and skills, which helped me during and after my studies – and still helps me to this day.”

Possibilities for the future

Maastricht was clearly the perfect choice for students like Slangen. “After completing high school, I wanted to follow a study programme that was as broad as possible and offered a lot of possibilities for the future. Business Economics seemed like a natural choice for me. I specialised in Administrative Information Science, which encompassed an ideal mix of process and administrative courses, complemented with essential methods and techniques.”

And Slangen wasn’t shy about getting involved in student life: together with several fellow students, he was a founding member of the Chasquis study association. “Setting up the association, organising activities and networking with organisations was a very educational process for me”, he says. “The ideal way to combine business with pleasure!”

Career steps

It was during his final year in Maastricht that Slangen began to focus in earnest on his career – and his future. He decided to do his internship at the multinational manufacturing company, Unilever, which he describes as “a real bull’s-eye: I was only young, but I was given the chance to work on a large-scale project, with a lot of freedom and responsibility. I worked there for about five years, then decided to move into the consultancy sector. And about four years ago, I took the step from big consultancies to a smaller organisation. Here I can influence the daily activities more directly.

“But it was at Unilever that I met my future wife, Sabine, an intern from the Maastricht Hotel Management School. She’s the one who made sure that I stayed connected to the Maastricht region. Together with our two children, aged 5 and 7, we try to balance our work (which is always busy, and not always local!) with life in the Limburg countryside.”


So what has he learned over the years? “During my working life, I’ve learned that there are two essential things. On the one hand, you have to choose the work you’re sincerely interested in. On the other hand, it’s important to constantly develop yourself and to have people around you at your workplace, at home and in your circle of friends who you can use as a sounding board for your ideas. To this day I’m hugely drawn to the variety and dynamics of ever-changing environments. And lately, I’ve been following a study programme called Strategies and Methodologies for Sustainability. I’ve been fascinated by this topic for years and I’m convinced that it will benefit my career immensely in the years to come.”

As for the present: “I’m pleased to be part of the organising committee for the reunion. I’m really looking forward to catching up with as many fellow students as possible to reminisce about our student life in Maastricht. It’ll be great to see where everyone ended up and to reconnect so that, in the future, we can put our experiences to good use and share our ideas.”

The reunion will take place on 2 October 2010 at the Maastricht University School of Economics and Business, Tongersestraat 53. For more information about the programme, or to register, please visit

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