SBE alum David Valente on his SBE Alumni Ambassador Programme experience: “It’s about giving back”

To attract students to Maastricht University School of Business and Economics (SBE) and engage with its alumni, Guido Vanderbroeck, Marketing Communications Officer at SBE, developed the SBE Alumni Ambassador Programme, giving SBE alumni an opportunity to share their experiences at Maastricht with prospective students. “Alumni are role models to inspire our future leaders to study at SBE,” Vanderbroeck explains.

David Valente, an SBE alum now based in Poland, recently attended a Master Education Fair in Warsaw, serving as an ambassador. David shares what motivates him to be an ambassador and what it means to give back to his alma mater.

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Master Education Fair in Warsaw. Current UM student talking to prospective students.

SBE has always valued input from its alumni for its Alumni Ambassador Programme. What was the appeal for you?
If I can help others with such important life decisions, I feel satisfied. So I like to show my respect and loyalty to people who always treated me well at Maastricht. It is also about giving back some of my time to help potential students make wise decisions based on my real-life experiences. This aligns well with my idea of starting to give more of my time back to the community whenever I can, and I feel good about doing it.

Describe your experience at the fair. What added value would you say talking with an alum had for prospective students?
The students at the fair have a big choice ahead of them, and my experience can give them information about the advantages of choosing Maastricht, so they can consider whether it matches with their ambitions.

There are some things you can value only looking forward, but there are also things you cannot value until you look back. I give students a little idea of the impact that such a choice can have in their path a few years down the road. Specially, when they are looking at pursuing an international career.

How did you as a Portuguese native come to be in Poland—were you seeking an international working experience?
After completing my bachelor’s degree in Lisbon and doing my (Erasmus) study abroad in Slovenia, I saw the potential to focus on the central eastern European region.

I began an international traineeship at a Portuguese Bank in Poland. As I wanted to further my education at a top European school, I decided to go to Maastricht for my master’s degree.

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Colette Verlinden (UM) and current student who participated with David Valente in Warsaw

I completed my master’s in 2009, a very tough year during the global financial crisis, and returned to Portugal to rejoin my previous bank employer. It was during this period that I started to lay the foundations for my entrepreneurial career. I gave up corporate life at 24 and launched my own company Expandglobe in order to help Portuguese companies do business in the central eastern European region. Nowadays I spend a significant amount of time in Poland both supporting international companies entering this market and also supporting Polish companies in doing business in the African continent, specially in the market of Angola.

How would you say your experience and education at SBE contributed to or prepared you for your current career?
SBE gave me two crucial things: additional knowledge and learning methodologies and networking opportunities. I strongly increased my international network of friends and business contacts while at SBE, due to the big international student community at the University. I made friends who helped me with referrals of potential business partners and actually also some of my current business partners in some projects I met at SBE.

I can definitely say that not only is the education top level and the do-it-yourself philosophy effective in developing your learning capabilities, but the international community of very smart and interesting people is extremely rich, and a big benefit both personally and also potentially business-wise.

More about the programme and how to get involved
When reflecting on student recruitment events Vanderbroeck emphasizes the added value of alumni ambassadors. “Having alumni present is very effective. They have a certain credibility, because they have personally attended SBE, and share how their study contributed to their career.”

Vanderbroeck says alumni ambassadors are a great benefit to prospective students, but participating in the programme is also a positive opportunity for alumni. “It is all voluntary, and alumni do it because they are loyal to the University and have a feeling that they want to give back,” he says. “They are a special group of alumni who were mostly really engaged with the University during their studies, and they are still in contact with us. This programme extends their network, and keeps the bond with SBE strong.”

Interested in participating in the SBE Alumni Ambassador Programme? Contact alumni-sbe@maastrichtuniversity.nl for more details.

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