While problem-based learning is what originally drew me to Maastricht, the international orientation of Maastricht University ultimately had the biggest impact on my life. The learning process was fun (I studied Economics and Dutch Law), but the cherry on the proverbial pie was the opportunity to take part in an exchange programme with a Japanese university (at that time, Japan was considered the country of the future, plus it was the farthest away and sounded exotic). An internship in Poland, several years after the wall fell, further broadened my horizons.
After graduation, my desire to travel increased and I realised I wanted to work abroad. I was employed by the Dutch Rabobank for several years and my international experience was a great asset to this international company. When the opportunity arose to become one of the managing directors at Rabo India, I did not hesitate. This time, India was the country of the future, far away and exotic. My experiences in Japan were a great help when setting up a new home for my family there. I had gained a flexible attitude, the ability to adapt (‘like it or leave it’) and the ability to improvise and persevere. At Rabobank, India is known as a great learning location: if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. After India came Indonesia and then Poland, where I now live with my family. In every country, Dutch residents will tell you how proud the locals are of their country. But I suggest the alternative: the Dutch could learn a lot from other nations and take more pride in their humble homeland. The people of Maastricht, on the other hand, do not lack any pride in their home city.
And what about problem-based learning? Well, that certainly comes in handy. The hustle and bustle of emerging markets and the enthusiasm of the local people can sometimes get in the way of logical decision making. Although I never use the seven-step process in practice, I do ensure that meetings are structured. What is the problem? What are the possible solutions? What agreements will we make for the next meeting? It is not rocket science, but it certainly helps that we were raised on this approach in Maastricht.
For the past half year, I have been an acting member of the International Advisory Board for the Faculty of Economics at Maastricht University. I am happy to be able to make an active contribution to the further development of the university and never thought I would annotate a university business plan. Plus, it is nice to be back in Maastricht every now and then; to meet teachers you once had lively discussions with and to get lost in the streets and alleyways you knew by heart twenty years ago. How beautiful it all looks in retrospect!
First Vice President, Chief Financial Officer at BGZ Bank, Poland