FEB Introduction Paper 2010 Everything you need to know about your new faculty
INTERVIEWS WITH: JEROEN SMIT | KLAAS KNOT | MARLIES VAN WIJHE | HELEEN MEES
So what’s this about? This introduction paper was made as an introduction for you, a new student at our faculty, of all the interesting things happening at the Faculty of Economics and Business. In this FEB newspaper you will find an overview of the various bachelor programmes, interviews with alumni or staff of each bachelor programme, interviews with famous alumni of the faculty, examples of the various research institutions, the various study associations linked to the faculty and much more! More information on the binding study advise, the student support desk, the FEB research lab and the honours college can also be found in this paper. Please take some time to get to know your new faculty and the various opportunities that it has to offer!
Preface Your time at our university will probably be the best time of your
motivated lectures. The professors will guide you and help you
part of your life. If we have the opportunity, maybe we can have a
life. At least, that’s my opinion based on my own experience.
at the start of your programme. But eventually, this is your own
coffee or so and you will be able to share your experiences with
Although the start of my student life was more than 30 years
exploration of the exciting world of economics and business.
ago, my days as a student are all but forgotten. As a student you
Eventually, you have to be able to do it independently.
get ample opportunity to acquire the knowledge you are really
Good luck and enjoy,
interested in. This knowledge is valuable during the rest of you
At the end of your studies, hopefully in the not to distant
career, although that’s hard to imagine right now when you yet
future, you will notice that the return on investment is large.
have to start out. You are probably uncertain about the future,
Unemployment is not an issue. The wages of our alumni are
about the contents of the programme, about career possibilities
relatively generous. We know this because we keep in contact
and other things. That’s good: coping with uncertainty and
with our alumni. Alumni are interested in keeping contact
making decisions in a volatile environment is a very useful
with the faculty and current students and they share their
training. You will probably need these kinds of skills during the
experiences. Also, an increasing number of our alumni work
remainder of your professional life.
abroad. It is good to note that you will also be presented with
Professor Elmer Sterken, dean of the faculty
wonderful options to study abroad. Spending a semester at a So you are starting a programme at our Faculty of Economics
foreign university is a valuable experience for everyone. Our
and Business. This will be a wonderful experience. Our faculty
faculty has a number of highly respected partner universities, for
offers a wide variety of tracks and probably one of those will
instanve in Shanghai, Santiago, Oslo and Newcastle, that all offer
interest you. We have experienced lecturers that teach subjects
that are at the core of their expertise. You will notice that the lecturers the give are inspired on their own research projects and
It is time to wish you good luck and a very successful study at our
that they will try to attract your attention towards their fields of
faculty. Being the dean of faculty, it is my task to safeguard the
interest. These professors try to go beyond the limits of what is
quality of our programmes. Try to benefit from the programmes
currently known and they are very excited about that. This will
that we offer, choose the courses that you like if you are able to
lead to inspiration, which will be transferred to you through their
and be inspired by our lecturers. It is time to enjoy an exciting
Column Tammo Bijmolt How does an interest rate cut by the central bank affect financing
members is part of the SOM Research Institute and structured
with regards to courses you can take, allowing you to really focus
decisions of firms? Why do some countries grow rich, while
within six research programs: Economics, Econometrics, and
on your interests.
others remain poor? Are women more loyal than men? How
Finance; International Economics, Business and Management;
can firms improve their processes and planning? How can the
Human Resource Management and Organizational Behavior;
So at FEB you can try and find answers to questions in the field
creativity and innovativeness of employees be maximized?
Innovation and Organization; Marketing; and Operations
of economics or business that are most fascinating to you. This
Management and Operations Research. These six programs
search starts today with your bachelor: good luck and enjoy!
Our researchers do research on these fascinating questions.
cover the broad range of disciplines within Economics and
This scientific research is one of the two core businesses of
Business. Second, the SOM Graduate School organizes the
the university, next to education. Research output, that means
Research Master and a PhD program (a 4-year program in
Prof. Tammo Bijmolt
publications in major international journals, is one of the
which you execute your own research). In these programs highly
Director of SOM
key determinants of our reputation. Worldwide rankings of
motivated and talented students are trained to become scientific
universities are often based on such indicators. And, of course,
doing research is fun and has a social impact. Besides this, you can learn a wide variety of skills and gather more academic
Once you realize how fascinating research is, FEB offers you
knowledge through research. That is why we believe that it is
several options at this graduate school. During your Bachelor
important that our researchers share their findings with our
you can apply for the Honours College, which means that during
students. Students often get the opportunity to participate in
your bachelor, you will follow a challenging programme, which
research projects. In this way academic training can be based on
has additional courses as well as field work. After your Bachelor,
the latest scientific insights, which benefits you as students.
you can apply for the Research Master (RM). The courses you follow during the RM will allow you to undertake your own
Therefore both core businesses come together within our
research, discover what research is about and work closely with
Research School SOM. First, the research conducted by our faculty
academic staff. In addition, there is a lot of choice and flexibility
Opening of the Academic Year
Colophon Editor in chief: L.A. Rosmalen This publication was made possible by: N. Bastiaans, L. Bergman, T.H.A. Bijmolt, N.A. de Boer, F.S. Colstee, H. Criens, Y. Deen, F. van Driem, A.J. Koning, I.J. Kroesen, J. de Lezenne Coulander, B. I. Pander, R.S. Buikema, K. de Roo, A. Stapel, E. Sterken, K. Sportel, M. van Veen, J. Wessels, the directors of the research institutes and various others. This publications contains content previously published in: Prospect (EBF), FEB research, Broerstraat 5, Promemorie Magazine, Nestor. Layout: De Boer Communicatie Print run: 2000 copies Printed by: Van Noort Printing A publication of the communication department of the Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Groningen
Introduction Paper 2010
The Binding Study Advice (BSA) As a first-year student at our faculty, you will start an exciting
invite you for a meeting. The university offers a range of courses
period in your life. New studies, new fellow students, a new town,
that can help you study more effectively and in such a meeting, we
maybe a new house. In short: lots of changes. And from the first
can determine what course meets your needs best.”
lecture onwards, you will notice that studying at a university is very
Sometimes the chosen study simply turns out to be not the right
different from secondary education.
one. What to do? “Especially with regard to the BSA, it is important
“Now that students will have to deal with the BSA, it is important
to talk to your study advisor when in doubt. Together, we will
to start your studies off well,” study advisor Yorieke Deen says.
have a look at your results, your interests and your possibilities
“After your first exams, you know if you are on the right track. If
regarding switching or quitting. In some cases, it is possible to
you haven’t earned enough credits after an exam period, we will
switch to another study within the faculty” (see the chart below).
In case of a negative BSA for the Bachelor programmes below,
you are unfortunately also excluded from the following FEB Bachelor programmes:
Accoutancy & Controlling (Dutch)
Bedrijfseconomie (Dutch) en Fiscale Economie (Dutch)
Accountancy en Controlling (Dutch)
Economics and Business Economics
Fiscale Economie (Dutch)
Profile International Business and Management
Profile International Business and Management
Economics and Business Economics
Fiscale Economie (Dutch)
Accountancy & Controlling (Dutch)
Internationals @ FEB International Students
Economics & Business Economics International Business & Management Econometrics & Operations Research
Study associations Study associations offer great opportunities to make new
application of study material by providing high quality activities.
friends, travel, organize events, put your study in to practice and expand your network. The various study associations
In addition, the study association offers its members discounts
organize a broad spectrum of activities ranging form parties
on subscriptions to leading journals, information events
to conferences and from career related activities to an
concerning the study trajectory and a Soft Skills seminar. Finally,
introduction camp for new students. The EBF is the association
Pro Memorie is an excellent place to get to know your fellow
for all students at the faculty, a so called faculty association.
students and extend your personal network.
Below you’ll find a short description of the various associations at the faculty.
Vesting is the association for students of Econometrics, Operations Research and Actuarial studies. Each year VESTING organises her own Introduction camp, at which almost all freshman are present. Through VESTING, you are able to get to know your fellow students by participating in our activities, such as our monthly socials and activities like paintballing, speedskating and the VESTING Sportsday. Next to the social aspects of studying, VESTING focuses on another important goal: closing the gap between hard theory and practice. This is achieved by organising events like the Conference, the Foreign Trip and the Career Day. For more information, you can visit our website www. devesting.nl.
The student association, TeMa, has recently been founded and is already a great success. TeMa is going through a tremendous growth in the number of members, and we hope that we will continue this progress in the future. TeMa is an association for students that study Technology Management (TM) at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen and we have a clear purpose. We want to provide those TM students a link between the university, to companies, and to each other. To achieve this, we organise a number of activities, which are both educational and social. For example, we visit businesses that are in line with our study specificially, or invite entrepeneurs to come and speak at our symposium. Every third Monday of the month we have socials, where you can have a
Risk is the study association for the financial student at the University of Groningen. Risk has set itself the goal to close the gap between theory and practice in the areas of Finance, The EBF (Economics and Business student Faculty association) is the faculty association for all students who are studying at the Faculty of Economics and Business of the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen. The EBF is one of the youngest, but also one of the largest student faculty associations in the Netherlands. Currently, the EBF counts approximately 4300 members.
Accountancy & Controlling, Organizational & Management
and Business. Examples of activities are the Risk Conference (March, 2011) and the Risk Investment Day (June, 2011). If you want to find out more about the many different activities that Risk organises, please visit www.verenigingrisk.nl or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Since its conception in 1981, the MARUG (Marketing Association RijksUniversiteit Groningen) is the association for students whom are interested in marketing. Although being an association
substantive and relaxing activities. There are 22 committees
linked with the Faculty of Economics and Business, our members
who organize these different activities. The EBF has various
range from not only business students but also communication,
substantive and relaxing activities, varying from the Booksale to
psychology and even history students. This gives the MARUG
the EBF Conference and from Parties to the ‘Prospect’ Magazine.
is for marketing interested students, Risk is for finance and accountancy interested students and VESTING for econometrics, operational research & actuarial studies students. These subassociations organize activities which are aimed specifically at their designated target audiences. More information about the EBF and its activities can be found on www.ebfgroningen.nl
basis for a colourful future.
Risk organises activities for students at the Faculty of Economics
enjoyable and easier. She does this by offering miscellaneous
associations, which serve specific target groups. The MARUG
TeMa, a brand-new student association with already a strong
Control and International Financial Management. Consequently,
The EBF makes studying special by making it more relevant,
Besides organising its own activities, the EBF has three sub-
drink and meet some friends.
its diverse and open demeanor. Since our founder Prof.Dr. P.S.H. Leeflang conceived the MARUG 30 years ago,we have been and Pro Memorie is the study association for Accountancy &
still are an adept organization devoted to facilitate a connection
Controlling students studying at the University of Groningen.
between students, the University and the business world. More
Since its founding almost six years ago, Pro Memorie has grown
straightforward, we function as an intermediary between
to be the hub in the network between student, university and
marketing theory and marketing practice.
companies. By bringing these parties closer to one another, Pro Memorie is trying to accomplish a wide range of goals. For
For more information about the MARUG and her activities please
instance, it offers students the opportunity to come into contact
with potential employers and to get acquainted with the practical
Why the Duisenberg Building? The Duisenberg building is named after one of the most famous alumni of the faculty of Economics & Business. Wim Duisenberg (1935-2005) studied economics at the Faculty of Economics of the University of Groningen and graduated cum laude in 1961. He continued his PhD in Groningen and wrote his dissertation on “The Economic Consequences of the Disarmament” (1965). Duisenberg subsequently worked for the IMF in Washington, the Dutch Central Bank and the University of Amsterdam. From 1973 to 1977, Duisenberg was Minister of Finance under Prime Minister Joop den Uyl. He became vice president of the Rabobank and in 1982 president of the Dutch Central Bank. In 1998 he was appointed first president of the new European Central Bank, from which he retired in 2003. Duisenberg has been highly praised for his record of service by politicians and financial experts from both the past and the present. He has become known as the driving force behind the realization of the European Monetary Union and the introduction of the common European currency. The Faculty honours and commemorates Duisenberg with the establishment of a chair and naming the main faculty building in his honour.
Sandwiches at the Kapteynborg canteen! WELCOME TO RESTAURANT KAPTEYNBORG! Would you like a delicious sandwich! A freshly-baked and royal cornbread with mozzarella, filet americain or salmon? By showing us this coupon this sandwich will only be € 1,95 instead of € 2,75. This offer will be valid the month of September in restaurant Kapteynborg (building J) between 12.00 - 13.30 pm.
FEB Research Lab The FEB Research Lab has opened its doors on the first floor in the Duisenberg building. Researchers from the departments of Marketing and HRM&OB will conduct experiments in this lab, and are in need of you to be able to do these experiments. Do you want to help our faculty by engaging in this research, whilst making a quick buck? Sign up for the research lab: it is the perfect opportunity to spend some useful hours between classes. You will receive € 7,- an hour and be able to contribute to science. *How can I participate?* You can sign up for the pool of candidates in NESTOR, by clicking on ‘Sign up’ in the menu button and enrolling yourself in the group. When new research starts, we will contact you to ask for your participation. By applying through NESTOR, you allow us to contact you to ask for your participation in research, we will by no means force you to participate.
The Student Support Desk Questions about your courses and exams, faculty regulations,
A SANDWICH FOR €1,95!
study abroad, graduation, personal circumstances or anything else? Please visit the FEB Student Support Desk in the Plaza of the Duisenberg building. The staff of the Student Support Desk know the answers to many of your faculty-related questions and if they don’t, they can refer you to the right person. You can visit us in the Plaza but you can also have a look at the frequently
Free second cup of coffee at the Micaffè! Micaffè is THE place to be for a delicious and fresh cup of Segafredo coffee, espresso, latte or cappuccino, Dilmah tea, cold drinks, fresh juice and fruit, Chiquita smoothies, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, sweet and savory snacks from Panos and candy. You can find us at the ground floor Plaza of the new Duisenberg building. With the coupon below you can get 2 coffee/espresso/ cappuccino/tea for the price of 1!
asked questions on www.rug.nl/feb/studentsupport. In case your question is not amongst them, you can ask your own question online. The staff of the Student Support Desk will answer your question as soon as possible.
The University Student Desk University Student Desk: temporary branch at the FEB! The University Student Desk (USD) is the general information centre for students of the University of Groningen. As extra service to FEB students, the USD will have a branch in the plaza of the Duisenberg building, from 23 August until 30 September.
We hope to see you soon at micaffè! This coupon is valid till September 7!
The temporary USD branch will be located in the Meeting Studio, one of the glass houses in the plaza (behind MiCaffè). Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 10:00h to 12:00h. The USD staff members are specialized in dealing with questions in the fields of: •
Registration and admission
Tuition fees (e.g. how much to pay and how to make the payment)
Registration and deregistration (e.g. requesting the registration status)
Complaints, objections and appeals
Choice of degree programme
Study delay and the Graduation Fund.
Introduction Paper 2010
What is: The Honours College? Excellence allowed! The main aim of The Honours College at the University of Groningen is to develop academic, personal and professional skills and knowledge. It will give motivated and talented bachelor students the chance to be challenged by following specially developed honours courses and taking part in numerous other activities. The Faculty of Economics and Business also participates in this programme. We talk to Maryse Brand, Evelien Croonen and Padma Rao Sahib, the three coordinators appointed to support this initiative.
The Honours College The University of Groningen Honours College (UGHC) is a new university wide programme for excellent and motivated students who are interested in a challenging study programme on top of the standard bachelor programme. The university aims to provide these students with the opportunity to make the most of their talents. Also, it wants to be more attractive for such students. Brand: “All existing honours programmes within the university are integrated into the new Honours College, including our faculty’s two existing honours bachelor programmes that originate from the formerly separate Economics and Business faculties. The new programme starts in the second semester of the first year of study and lasts for 2.5 years. This year the Honours College will admit a maximum of 250 students from all nine RuG faculties, 47 of which will be economics and business students.” Rao Sahib: “The Honours College is a very ambitious programme; it is aimed at developing academic, personal, and professional skills. It offers course work for acquiring more knowledge within the student’s field of study, and for developing knowledge on the frontiers of other disciplines in order to be able to contribute to social, professional and academic themes beyond the boundaries of the student’s own discipline. This approach should provide students with the abilities and personal network to have an outstanding point of departure for a highly successful continuation of their studies and for providing major contributions to society during their future careers. The ambition and quality of the Honours College has led to it being recently awarded a four million Euro subsidy from the national Sirius programme, financed by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW).”
Contents of the programme within FEB Within the Faculty of Economics and Business, the Honours Bachelor programme (HB-FEB) consists of two streams to allow students to focus on topics related to their specific bachelor programme: • The Business stream, intended for students in the bachelor programmes Business Administration, International Business & Management, Economie & Management, and Technology Management. This stream is coordinated by dr. Maryse Brand and dr. Evelien Croonen. • The Economics stream, intended for students in the bachelor programmes Economics & Business Economics, Fiscale Economie, and Econometrics & Operations Research. This stream is coordinated by dr. Padma Rao Sahib.
students to focus on topics and research methods specific to their stream. In both streams, honours courses are aimed at small group teaching, intensive interaction within the group, but also on individual interaction with supervisors, research staff, practitioners, et cetera. For that matter, the whole programme will be taught in English, we expect ambitious international students to be specifically interested in this programme.” Croonen: “As our experience demonstrates, business students are highly interested in the practical relevance of what they are learning. The relatively small group size within the honours programme provides unique opportunities for personal interaction between the students and the professional field. The honours bachelor Business stream is designed to include and integrate research and practice oriented topics and activities. From the first year on, students are trained in developing their analytical and research skills, and directly apply them in a reallife context. This means, for example, that first year students get specific interview training and independently perform some interviews within organizations. These activities are embedded in a seminar on Leadership in Organizations, that will be taught by professor Onne Janssen. In the second year, students follow an Innovation Seminar, during which they develop a research question in collaboration with an external organization, and combine literature study with primary data collection to answer these questions. We already have very positive experiences with such a set up in collaboration with Philips Consumer Lifestyle in Drachten. We also invite reputed companies such as ORMIT and Boer & Croon to organize a workshop or personal training for our students.” Rao Sahib: “In the Economics stream (that also includes Econometrics) there are two flagship courses: the Economics/ Econometrics Seminars I and II. These two courses provide stateof-the-art knowledge on certain topics within the broad context of economics from a statistical/econometric perspective. The topics and specific subjects vary from year to year as the goal is to be topical and relevant. The first course, offered this spring by Dr.Lammertjan Dam, will focus on financial economics and of course, the current financial crisis.” Brand: “The remainder of the curriculum is similar for both streams. Both streams include a course in which honours students actively participate in ongoing (PhD-)research at our faculty. Students are also given the opportunity to do an internship with a highly reputed organization to experience how they can contribute to the professional field and to develop personal networks for the future. Finally, it is not only courses and seminars that are important, but organizing field trips, getting acquainted with academic traditions and customs, being involved in improving the programme’s quality, are all activities for which the students can also earn credits. Both streams end with the students writing an honours bachelor thesis which should reflect the extraordinary experiences and abilities acquired by them.”
Organization The UGHC is a small, centralized organization headed by the dean, professor J. Bosch-Boesker. It coordinates the programme, including student admission. The actual educational programme
is largely provided and organized by the faculties themselves. All faculties offer a 25 EC deepening programme to their honours students and offer broadening courses for honours students of other faculties. Each student has to complete the 25 EC deepening programme and 20 EC of broadening courses in order to receive his/her honours bachelor certificate. The 20 EC of broadening courses include project work during which students from all nine faculties will work together intensively, and will even go on a one-week international study trip. Each faculty will also offer specific broadening courses for honours students of other faculties, professor Peter Verhoef will teach such a course on the topic of Sustainable Markets. Brand: “The local coordinators are responsible for putting together a course programme for the HB-FEB, managing contacts with the central Honours College, and do all other things that are necessary for the programme to become a success. Important aspects are providing information to (future) students and faculty members, recruiting enthusiastic and qualified teaching staff to get involved in the programme, to be a contact person for the honours students and to actively support them (for example in gaining access to prestigious international exchange programmes), and monitoring and improving the quality of the programme.” Croonen: “Although student admission is coordinated by the UGHC, the local coordinators will do the actual selection of students. For that matter, the selection procedure is thorough. After the first exams of the first year, the faculty selects the top 10% students of each FEB bachelor programme. These students are invited for an information meeting and encouraged to apply for the Honours College. Additionally, first year teaching staff is asked to actively scout for potential candidates. Finally, there is an open invitation to all students, regardless of their exam results, to apply for the programme. All applicants will have to write a motivational letter, provide a CV, and supporting information such as high school grades and specific experience. Based on this information, applicants may be invited for a personal interview. Students are selected on the basis of their entire dossier.” We are all looking forward to working with this exceptional group of students the coming years.
Highlights of the programme 1.
aiming at top 10% of our bachelors’ students
250 talented students admitted this year, 47 of which from FEB
for students with high ambitions in academia or society
an additional 45 EC on top of the standard 180 EC
challenging, small group teaching 6.
students from all nine faculties
Laurie Reijnders Usually students have to be invited for an Honours programme. I was too impatient to wait for an invitation, and so I applied myself. After a successful first year in the Economics bachelor, I was aiming for a more challenging continuation of my studies. The Honours programme offered me the opportunity to have a tailormade study programme, and to determine whether academic research suits me. Given my interest in macroeconomics and public finance, the coordinator of the Honours programme decided to match me with prof.Ben Heijdra. The contact between Ben Heijdra and myself has intensified over time. The first year he merely guided me in study related decisions. I took some courses of the Econometrics bachelor at his advice, which I enjoyed so much that I decided to take it on as a second study program. One year later I started working as his research assistant. During the summer months I was a test reader and editor of his macroeconomic textbook and became a co-author of the accompanying exercise manual. By now we are writing a paper together, which will serve as my bachelor thesis and which will be submitted for publication in a professional scientific journal.
Brand: “Both streams within the HB-FEB aim to attract motivated, ambitious and talented students. The goal is to identify these students early so they can follow a challenging programme from the first year onwards. Some of these students may eventually choose to follow the Research Master programme at the FEB and eventually a PhD here or elsewhere. Another group will develop into successful professionals, civil servants, applied researchers, and so on. While the ‘broadening’ part of the Honours College is the same for both streams, the ‘deepening’ part allows
Next academic year I hope to follow a masters programme in economics and econometrics at a top-level university in the UK. I believe that being an Honours student will positively affect my chances of being admitted. As the programme has sparked my enthusiasm for economic research, I consider applying for a Phd position after my return.
Business Economics What is: Business Economics? Why is one brand of jeans constantly sold out and do others barely sell at all? Why would you let a machine produce only 20 pairs of shoes a day when it could potentially produce more than a hundred? What decisions does a company have to make to stay ahead of everyone else? These are but a few of the questions that business economists are dealing with every day. Business Economics students examine everyday economic issues. During this study, students gain the knowledge and develop the skills necessary to provide well-founded advice developed from an academic perspective. Economic theory is best learnt by putting it into practice. Thus practical experience takes a central position during the programme. The emphasis, particularly during the second year, is on business economics, but students also learn about general economics, as companies do of course not stand alone, but are part of a wider economic context. Supportive modules like bookkeeping, computer skills, mathematics and statistics will ensure that graduates are able to contribute to the healthy (economic) operation of a company or government body. The Bachelor’s degree in is divided into the propaedeutic phase (first year) and the post-propaedeutic phase (second and third years). Both phases have a fixed curriculum, with the exception of the third year, where students of business economics can choose a specialisation that will prepare them for their preferred Master’s degree programme.
Business Economics Male / Female
Doing business is all about making money. Or is it? Alumni Quirijn Bolle (34) and Sarriel Taus (45) both head successful companies, but profit is not their main motivator. At age 29 Bolle set up sustainable supermarket Marqt. Five years ago, Taus opened restaurant Fifteen, where he trains previously prospectless young people to have a chance on the labour market. A discussion about money and ideals. Quirijn Bolle was awarded an MA in Business Administration in 2000. Sarriel Taus also studied Business Administration, but switched to Business Economics halfway through and was awarded this degree in 1991. “We are not expensive. Others are cheap” Marqt stores only shelves food from small producers. This is always produced according to the highest quality standards, does not contain any additives and is usually organic. Fish without a quality mark is unheard of in our store. And the same applies to all the other food that is stocked, as the production process is closely monitored by the Marqt staff members. Founder Quirijn Bolle: “We call this ‘real food’.” Restaurant Fifteen’s menu, too, is characterized by the high quality of the products used in its food. The organic products take centre stage and animal welfare is taken into account in the menu choices. On Wednesday, meat is even entirely off the menu
at Fifteen. A healthy offering is not the main thing that sets this restaurant apart though. Each year, Fifteen trains fifteen young people who were previously deemed unemployable. But if Fifteen founder Taus has anything to say about it, this won’t be the case for that much longer “I have entered into a joint venture with Koninklijke Horeca Nederland. We have put down on paper how we work here and this ‘manual’ will be made available to all 7000 affiliated catering establishments.” Small-scale Taus is not the only one who’s looking forward to some healthy competition though. Marqt’s Quirijn Bolle now owns two stores (one in Haarlem and one in Amsterdam) and a third is in the pipeline. “We still want to grow, but we do not have the desire to become as big as Albert Heijn. To be able to keep on selling food consciously and stay involved, we have to keep things small. That’s why I’m hoping for others to follow.” Albert Heijn is the place where Bolle started his career. After he obtained his degree in business administration, Bolle went to work at parent company Ahold. “It was while working at Ahold that I became aware of where supermarkets and producers go wrong. The supermarkets are of such size that they can always lower prices even more, only due to the fact that they are so large. In order to keep their margin, producers will of course try to make their production process even more efficient. And more efficient does seldom go hand in hand with improvement of quality. Moreover, it is near impossible for small businesses to get a foot in the door, as they will never be able to produce the necessary quantities.” At some point in time, Bolle felt it was time for something new. And with new, he didn’t go for something that was only new to him. Instead, he decided to start a supermarket business where it would be possible for small suppliers to sell their products. “I really believe that the time is ripe for this. We all know that the way things are being done now, is unsustainable and destructive. The current economic cycles have come to an end and sustainability will play a much bigger role in the future.” Please go to the Nestor page of the faculty to read the remainder of the interview! Text: Franka Hummels Previously published in: Broerstraat 5
Economics of Taxation What is: Economics of Taxation? What are the possible consequences of a fall in income tax rates? Fiscal economists are able to critically analyse the consequences of such measures and draft policies and other recommendations
Hendrik van Veen
on based on such an analysis. Other examples: if a company has branches in various countries, in which country does the company have to pay its taxes? What are the fiscal consequences of a merger between two companies? And also, in what ways and to what extent can governments limit bonuses? Fiscal economics students get to know all the ins and outs of taxation systems and tax laws in various countries. Fiscal economy is a combination of economics and law and a analytical mindset combined with an interest in languages is needed to dissect the various tax laws and economic effects. The fiscal economy programme is taught in Dutch. During the propaedeutic phase, the programme is very similar to the first year of the Business Economics programme, but with the addition of an introductory course. The second and third year are split almost equally between economic and law related courses like accounting and fiscal law.
Hendrik van Veen, Alumnus of the Economics of Taxation programme.
Economics of Taxation Male / Female
Weekends really are weekends now Hendrik van Veen is alumnus Economics of Taxation at the
outline of how things work, while in the real world, so to speak,
Faculty of Economics and Business.
every individual case is different and it is of great importance to
When I graduated in August 2009, I had already been offered
gain more in-depth knowledge about every case. The best thing
a consultancy job at Ernst & Young in Amsterdam. Earlier that
about working, is that clients are actually happy to see you and
year, I had written my dissertation and the year before that I had
are thankful, and that gives a lot of gratification. The downside is
been a ‘working student’ (werkstudent) at E&Y in Apeldoorn. As
that my life is quite structured now, so I have less spare time and
a consultant, I do consultancy work for large companies and
there’s less time left for fun things. On the other side: weekends
wealthy individuals regarding taxation. The things I learned
really are weekends now, and there’s something to be said for
during my studies, are definitely useful in my job, though it
must be said that at university, you’re only taught the general 6
Introduction Paper 2010
“Teach students to cope with success” Jeroen Smit is an alumnus of the Faculty of Economics and
correct. If a bank’s management is just a little short of a war
information they need to make the right decisions.” This, too,
Business and Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences. Smit
zone, as was the case at ABN Amro, they generally don’t interfere.
is textbook behaviour, according to Smit. But it is behaviour
studied Sociology and Business Administration in Groningen
Even though it would have been so much better for the bank if
that can be prevented. “It would be brilliant if the Business
from 1981 to 1986. After obtaining his degree, he worked as a
they had. The fact that Wilco Jiskoot, ABN’s second powerful,
Administration and Economics degrees offered in Groningen
consultant for a few years, a position he left to pursue a career
carried on doing something that CEO Rijkman Groenink violently
would add a course to their curriculum that teaches students
in journalism. He worked at Het Financieele Dagblad, as chief
disagreed with for years on end, it outrageous. The board of
how to handle their own success. This course should be called
economics editor at Algemeen Dagblad and finally as editor in
directors should take up its responsibility here. Directors should
Leadership or something along those lines, but foregoing the
chief of FEM Business. As of 2002, he dedicates his professional
be actively engaged in their employment policy and hire the right
name, it should boil down to teaching students to keep both their
time to the writing of books in the field of investigative
people at the right time and, above all, fire people on time.”
feet firmly on the ground, no matter how successful they might become in business. And it would be even better of someone
journalism. Both Het drama Ahold and De Prooi, blinde trots breekt ABN Amro (translated as The Perfect Prey: The Fall of
Fairness / Envy
like Groenink or Van der Hoeven would teach these classes: ‘I
ABN Amro, or: What Went Wrong in the Banking Industry) were
Smit is convinced that this inability to see the effect of human
have done this and this really well, but this is where I lost track’.”
massive hits. Smit was honoured with the RUG title Alumnus of
actions is also present in science. “The science of economics
Most students will of course instantly forget what they’ve been
the Year in 2009.
is still based on the assumption that a human being is a homo
taught, after all, their careers are yet to take off, but a few of these
economicus, presuming that a human being will always act in
students won’t forget these lessons, and they will remember it,
In this interview Smit argues that economists should focus
the most sensible way possible. This is often not the case. I am
and hopefully apply it, ten years down the line.”
more on human psychology, directors should be actively
currently reading Animal Spirits by Robert Shiller and George
involved in the internal relationships within management and
Akerlof and they use an excellent example to showcase this.
student should be taught how to cope with their future success.
Imagine you are lying on the beach and you fancy a bottle of
Smit does realize that he himself is also vulnerable to this kind
This is the only way that disasters like the downfall of ABN
your favourite beer. Someone in your party offers to get you one
of megalomania. “Of course, now that my book has sold 175,000
Amro can be prevented.
from the five star restaurant that’s just around the corner and
copies, I should be careful where I thread. And yes, I can live off
he asks you how much you would be willing to pay for it. The
the book sales and its spinoffs, like chairmanships. But I didn’t
“Everyone is greedy!” Jeroen Smit proclaims rather nonchalant,
amount you mention is probably different to the amount you
write the book for the money alone. In April 2007, I was genuinely
presenting this as fact. He is unconcerned with the public
would’ve mentioned if this person had said he was going to go
astonished by how management of such an important Dutch
outrage regarding top salaries and bonuses. “There’s very few
to the supermarket. Remember that this is all about the same
company lost all control over the future. The economic crisis has
people who would, when offered 1,3 million, give 1 million away
bottle of beer, and most economics will therefore assume that
put a spotlight on banking and that certainly didn’t hurt my book
to the Red Cross.” Numbers like these don’t shock Smit anymore
you are thinking of a certain - fixed - price. But based on the
sales. But my research could just as well have come to nothing
after he interviewed most of ABN’s upper management for his
fairness principle, which is often ignored, it does not work like
and then I would’ve spent a lot of time and have nothing to show
book De Prooi (translated as The Prey), people who, by selling the
this. People don’t want to pay too much for something.” Smit says
for it. The main thing is to actually like what you are doing.”
bank, gained a lot of personal wealth.
that this concept plays a major role within the whole issue of top
When working on this book, Smit could make use of the fact
salaries. Smit: “I do genuinely believe that the law that requires
that most of the people he interviewed had already heard of him
Pride / Zalm
all top salaries to be made public, has done more damage than
on account of his previous book (Het drama Ahold). “Because
In De Prooi (The Prey) Smit described in detail how a mighty
good. If you are the director of a hospital and earn 600k a year,
this book was already out there, people were familiar with my
institution like ABN Amro could be brought to ruin by a deadly
this is a good deal. However, if you then hear that the manager of
research method and willing to contribute. They knew I wasn’t
combination of human impotence and infinite pride. It was this,
a neighbouring, and smaller, hospital receives 800k, you would
going to use direct quotes and also wouldn’t reveal who exactly
and not lack of intelligence or financial insight, that brought
suddenly find 600k to be too little. This is where envy enters the
I had interviewed. Some people were desperate to share their
about the end of the bank. And according to Smit, it is exactly
story because they were quite shaken by what occurred at ABN Amro. This way, I was able to determine what was the common
this human aspect that does not get the attention it should get in the press. “Journalists don’t even go near it with a 10-foot pole,
Crooks / Yes men
denominator of all their stories.” That Smit is able to put his own
because it is a time-consuming subject that might or might not
It are these kind of workings that people like former Ahold CEO
success in perspective, is evidenced by the way he reacts to his
bring in any money, or because it is considered to be inferior. But
Cees van der Hoeven (also the subject of one of Smit’s books)
position of Alumnus of the Year 2009 (and first winner of this new
why do I yet have to read anything on why Zalm was appointed
have also been the victim of. This is why Smit would never call
award): “When I heard that I had won, I was of course extremely
as ABN’s new CEO? A function handed to him by his successor
them crooks. “Crooks are people who deliberately steal money
flattered. But I was immediately hit with a second thought, along
Wouter Bos, who, as his state secretary, had been working with
off people, these are just people that did something that wasn’t
the lines of: What makes my work so important, that makes me
him very closely? When did he call, at what time, how did the
allowed.” Smit theorizes that this probably happened because
deserving of such a prize? Shouldn’t it go to someone who’s in
conversation develop? And what did Zalm subsequently tell
they thought that different rules applied to them. “They were
the business of saving lives?”
Dick Scheringa, his boss at DSB? What was happening there?”
unable to place things in perspective. They were successful
It’s people that are managing banks, and so it’s people that
and moved out of reach of others, living in a different world
make mistakes, says Smit. Consequently, it is anything but wise
than everyone else, so to speak. This is also the case with
to ignore any stories or rumours on how these people are and
for instance ABN Amro’s Rijkman Groenink. People like this
how the relationships between them are. In Smit’s opinion,
surround themselves with yes men, people who wouldn’t dream
bank directors should really make an effort to find out what is
of disagreeing with them. Any critique gets drowned out by this
happening there. “Usually, they only check if the numbers are
and causes the people in power to no longer have access to the
Text: Franka Hummels Photo: Joris Kalma Previously published in: Broerstraat 5
SOM research programmes SOM is the coordinating research institute and the graduate
students at the faculty. To get an idea of what these programmes
Research projects range from case studies in companies to
school of the Faculty of Economics & Business at the University of
entail, here’s a brief overview of the contents of three of these
surveys among large groups of companies and from working
with companies to develop applied tools to developing and
SOM’s mission is to be a full range research school combining
The institute for Innovation & Organization
scientific work in OPERA ranges from highly practical, real-life
Economics and Business and to meet the needs of the academic
To compete, organizations need to be innovative which has
oriented to more abstract, analytical problems.
community and students as well as society by conducting and
rapidly become a joint effort requiring new organizational
Many researchers have intimate contacts with several companies
stimulating excellent fundamental and applied research related
practices, besides those related to hierarchy and command-and-
ranging from hospitals to large process industries. Additionally,
to the firm in its economic environment, and to recruit and
control. New organizational practices –formal and informal–
contacts exists through the Lean Operations Research Centre
train talented students both at the Research Master and the
include relational contracting, networked organizations, team
PhD level and to provide them with high-level programmes,
formation, and incentive and reporting structures that account
excellent supervision and a stimulating, international research
for joint innovative efforts. This holds true for both firm-internal
The HRM&OB research institute
organizational practices as well as organizational practices
Our research focuses on the human side of organizations: How
to accommodate and stimulate cooperation between firms.
can the motivation of and cooperation between employees of
The aim of SOM’s PhD programme is to produce highly qualified
However organized, firms need resources and capabilities as well,
organizations be optimized to facilitate individual and team
researchers. The graduates will each work on an individual
including strategic capabilities, information sharing routines
effectiveness, positive attitudes, and well-being. The research
project, leading to a doctoral dissertation. During the initial
and systems, and procedures to govern a firm and ensure proper
program comprises four interconnected research themes
period, students are offered courses in various fields and on
control over sensitive knowledge and resources. Obviously,
focused on teams, diversity, innovation, and leadership.
research methods. The courses of the PhD programme are
the need to develop and leverage appropriate resources and
taught in English. During the remaining period, PhD candidates
capabilities in newly emerging organizational practices to
Examples of research questions that we are trying to answer
will work on their thesis. Over the entire four-year period, work
be innovative as an organization poses substantial strategic
include “How does the composition of groups affect their
on the dissertation is carried out under supervision of SOM
functioning and effectiveness”, “How should employees be
solving highly complex mathematical models. In other words, the
rewarded to maximize their effort and simultaneously stimulate
fellows. The projects are carries out under close supervision and the PhD candidates are encouraged to present their papers at
their creativity?”, “How and when does the arrival of newcomers
The research institute focuses on the main processes of
in organizations affect interpersonal relations, innovation, and
organisations: all processes that relate to processing materials,
performance?”, “Is there a difference between male and female
SOM’s research institute is organized in the following
providing services and delivering of products and services. More
leadership and which leadership styles are most effective?”,
specifically, the main aim is to provide insight into, develop tools
and “Why are some supervisors or subordinates more likely to
and decision aids for making decisions relating to production,
behave unethically than others, and what can be done about it?”
Human Resource Management & Organisational Behaviour
Researchers of the HRM&OB research institute conduct
The decision making deals with modelling, analysis, design/
research in a wide variety of settings, including manufacturing,
improvement, development and planning & control at several
healthcare, financial, educational, and service industry settings.
International Economics, Business & Management
services and logistic operations within profit as well as non profit
Economics, Econometrics and Finance
levels in the organisation. Examples are the planning in hospitals
They have expertise in using a variety of research methods
Operations Management &
around a MRI-scanner, planning the transport of sugar beets
including surveys, interviews, and observations. A variety
from farm to sugar refinery, making a schedule for the staff of
of research approaches is used, including longitudinal and
a large restaurant, developing tools to plan large events like
multilevel data collections, field and lab experiments, case
PinkPop, or cooperation between supplier and buyer in a supply
studies, and simulation studies.
Operations Research •
Innovation & Organization
The SOM programmes offer great opportunities to excellent
Centers of Expertise Apart from the SOM programmes, there are also various centrers
Corporate Governance Insights Centre
of expertise at the faculty of economics and business. The centres
The University of Groningen’s Corporate Governance Insights
The Centre for Research on Local Government Economics
of expertise cover the following areas:
Centre (CGIC) brings researchers together with a background
(COELO) is an independent research institute, affiliated to the
in disciplines such as economics, management, and accounting.
Faculty of Economics and Business of the University of Groningen,
These researchers share an interest in governance research,
the Netherlands. COELO carries out scientific research on
broadly defined, and its application. The center is currently being
local government economics, and conducts contract research,
developed and institutionalized. Regular updates of this website
for example for government ministries, local governments or
will reflect the progress.
international organisations. The main areas of expertise are
Banking, Insurance, Finance
Business and Information Systems
Input Output Studies
Local Government Economics
Economic Growth and Development
Human Resource Management and
EUNIOS COELO GGDC
fiscal federalism, decentralized taxation, water management Corporate governance is a fast-growing field of research. Over
financing, fiscal equalization, capital structure of public bodies,
5,500 academic articles and 300 books were written on the
and local poverty relief. The aim of COELO is to increase
topic, 80 percent of which appeared after 2000. The participants
knowledge about local government economics by conducting
Health Care Management
in CGIC have all been involved in governance debates in their
sound scientific research, and to make this knowledge accessible
respective disciplines and have conducted multidisciplinary
ICT applications in remote care
research together. More information on the researchers making up CGIC is available under researchers , whereas selected
Please find four examples of centres of expertise below.
publications are offered under publications
Expertise Center Human Resource Management & Organizational Behavior
Various applied research projects for the Dutch government
At the core of any organization are its employees. Employees’
performed by CGIC. The group has significant expertise about
personalities, attitudes, motivation and behavior for a large part
compliance with corporate governance codes, executive
determine organizational effectiveness. The Expertise Center
compensation, board selfevaluation and worker codetermination,
for Human Resource Management and Organizational Behavior
amongst other topics, particularly in The Netherlands. To assist
conducts research for and with companies to gain insight into
in data collection, CGIC regularly includes students in their
exactly how employees affect the organization and vice versa.
research projects. For more information on applied research
Over the course of decades we’ve build up extensive knowledge
projects please contact Dr. Dirk Akkermans.
and corporate sector have been completed and are still being
in areas such as creativity and innovation, diversity, ethical mission is to share our expertise with a broader audience of
The Groningen Growth and Development Centre (GGDC)
corporate professionals so that practical HR issues can be
The Groningen Growth and Development Centre was founded
tackled based on rigorous scientific knowledge. We achieve
in 1992 within the Economics Department of the University of
our mission by stimulating knowledge exchange between HR
Groningen by a group of researchers working on comparative
professionals, researchers, and students. For instance, we invite
analysis of levels of economic performance and differences
senior HR professionals to give guest lectures during courses.
in growth rates. The activities of the Centre are primarily in
They give great insight into what problems they face on a day-
the field of research. This research is largely based on a range
to-day basis and how research can help them solve these issues.
of comprehensive databases on indicators of growth and
Another way we communicate with the corporate world and the
development that the Centre compiles and maintains on a regular
general public is through our website at www.hrmexpertise.nl.
basis. The participants of the Centre publish papers, articles and
On a weekly basis we publish posts on HR-related news, research
books often linked to these databases. It also organises seminars
backgrounds, and book reviews. Finally, we regularly organize
and conferences, and it submits and supports (joint) proposals
research meetings in which speakers from The Netherlands and
to finance research in this field. Its current director is Marcel
abroad to talk about their latest work. Students are welcome to
Timmer. The website can be found at www.ggdc.net.
behavior, leadership, and teamwork. The expertise center’s
join in. Be sure to check our website for upcoming meetings or subscribe to our Twitter feed at twitter.com/hrmexpertise!
Introduction Paper 2010
The science of the soccer World Cup At the faculty of Economics and Business various interesting forms of research are done but the ones that really connect everyday life with science are the various analyses done of the Olympic Games and for example the football world cup. The article below was published before the FIFA world cup 2010 but gives an interesting insight in the interesting research done by professors Gerard Sierksma and Ruud Koning.
very quickly whether they were right or wrong. They are given direct feedback on their actions. In addition, the outcome of the action is undisputed, after a match you know what has happened. There is no possible discussion about it.’ Koning is currently studying which betting systems best reflect the chances of a World Cup team. ‘On the one hand you have fixed-odds betting markets in which you can bet on the countries that could win the title. Another approach is more of a sharetype approach whereby people ‘trade’ bets with each other. This is an innovation that originated in the world of finance. In such a system, the equilibrium price at which the bets are actually traded reflects the information of the participants. At the moment, it appears that betting exchanges are better at predicting outcomes than fixed-odds betting markets, despite the fact that the four to six major operators of fixed-odds bets have a great deal of experience.’
Now that the World Cup in South Africa is almost upon us, the traditional ‘Orange mania’ in the Netherlands is reaching fever pitch again. For professors Ruud Koning and Gerard Sierksma, the championships are more than a high point for sports fans. What interests them most are the scientific aspects of this international event. They talked to us about the effectiveness of national teams, the World Cup favourite, and the possibilities and impossibilities of bringing the competition to the Netherlands in the future.
In this context, what can we say about a national team’s chances of winning? ‘Effectiveness is rarely linked to winning’, explains Sierksma, ‘especially if you only look at a single match. Italy won the last World Cup, but the Germans played the most effectively. There os no doubt that is also due to the fact that there are so few goals scored in football. The small number of goals has all sorts of strange consequences; even a mistake by the referee can determine the result. That is very different from other sports. Football is the only ball sport where the scores are so low, which makes the price of a referee’s mistake much too high.’
Gerard Sierksma will soon be watching the matches on two screens at the same time. A laptop will be set up next to the television, showing how effectively the teams are playing as the match progresses. The graph is the result of a model that the econometrist developed in cooperation with ORTEC Team Support Systems (ORTEC TSS). ‘It is unique in the world’, Sierksma explains. ‘Throughout the match, we analyse the performance of the competing teams: defending, controlling and attacking. The focus is on the amount of pressure that a team puts on their opponent’s goal area. Above all, we look at the result – the effect – of that pressure. We measure effectiveness using a large number of performance indicators and we assess every ball action. This involves not only counting, but giving an evaluation. That is something completely new in sport.’
users really like our model; it is a good reminder of the previous part of the match and you can see at a glance how the match is progressing. And if the graph starts to move upwards, then a goal might be on the way.’
‘In football, every action on the field is relevant. Even if the ball is on the right of the pitch, a running action on the left flank can be important. But the actions nearest to the ball are the most significant – they determine the effectiveness of the team. We have studied in detail how we can give an accurate representation of actual effectiveness with a minimum of observations. In football you can limit yourself to the actions around the ball. Those are the actions we follow. All manner of calculation rules apply, of course, to adjust for the fact that a midfielder has possession of the ball much more often than a striker, for example.’
Last season, the Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws commissioned an analysis of all the matches in the Belgian premier league. Every week, the newspaper publishes graphs of the matches. In the Netherlands, all premier-league matches are being analysed for NOC*NSF, and the system is used by footballclub Ajax, among others. Sierksma has to admit it, his scientific approach directly influences the way he watches competitions such as the World Cup. ‘I have noticed that I watch football matches in a different way now. The people I am watching with often comment on this. If a striker takes a powerful shot at goal but it is wide of the mark, I say ‘Bad shot’. To me, it is a straightforward miss. I do not see anything good about it – and I really mean that. Others sometimes try to put a positive spin on such a shot, but I pay more attention to the effectiveness than to the beauty or the excitement it generates.’
Sierksma illustrates this with a graph of the match between the Netherlands and the Czech Republic (2-3) during Euro 2004 in Portugal - the very duel during which team manager Dick Advocaat substituted Arjen Robben while he was playing so well. ‘You can see the most interesting moment of the match very clearly. The Dutch performance is improving and Robben is playing like a champ. The line for the Netherlands is moving upwards all the time. Then Advocaat substitutes Robben, and from that point the effectiveness of the ‘Orange’ team decreases. The match turned around completely and the Dutch lost. This is one of the most interesting graphs we have ever produced. These graphs simply give us a great additional picture of the match.’
World Cup favourite With the World Cup almost upon us, we are asking the usual question of which country is the favourite. ‘Everyone has an opinion on that’, says Ruud Koning, Professor of Sports Economics. ‘You can be democratic about it, take all the opinions seriously and determine the favourite on that basis. But I do not believe that is the way to do it.’ The professor prefers to base his opinion on a scientific analysis. ‘At the moment I am carrying out a comparative study of the participating countries based on data from the gambling markets. Those markets are very interesting for studying human behaviour. For example, participants find out
Sierksma is not alone in this view. The effectiveness graphs are a hit on the internet. ‘Their popularity is spreading like wildfire, which means that our model has commercial value too. The graphs can be followed live on the website of De Telegraaf newspaper during the World Cup duels. Research has shown that
Netherlands 2 - 3 Czech Republic
Euro2004 Portugal June 19
GOAL van Nistelrooy
SUBSTITUTE Robben (out) Bosveld (in)
RED CARD Heitinga
7 6 5 4
1 0 0
Average match pressure
High match pressure
Bid for World Cup 2018 Although the attention is almost exclusively on the approaching World Cup in South Africa, the Netherlands is already cautiously looking ahead to 2018. The Netherlands and Belgium are going to make a serious bid to bring the tournament to the Low Countries. In the discussions on the feasibility of these plans, the economic value of the event is often mentioned. ‘But you should not organize something like this for economic gain. The World Cup certainly is not a goose with golden eggs’, Koning warns. ‘Although it will create jobs, for example, obviously there will be a lot of construction projects, it will be mainly people from Poland who are flown in to work on them. So the situation is not quite as straightforward as it first appears.’ The benefits for the tourist industry should not be overestimated either. ‘You can say it will attract crowds of tourists but they will be different tourists. Amsterdam normally attracts lots of tourists in the summer. If you host the World Cup, those tourists will stay away and football tourists will come instead. Football tourists eat fast food and do not tend to go for expensive meals in three-star restaurants. So you cannot say, a priori, that they will definitely give a significant boost to the economy. The economic effect of the World Cup is limited, or perhaps even negative.’ Infrastructure is an important aspect in the discussion on the feasibility of hosting the World Cup in the Netherlands and Belgium. Koning: ‘That is often an important question when a major sporting event is being organized: can the infrastructure be used on a profitable basis after the event? The sustainable operation of brand-new stadiums is an aspect that is already causing many headaches in South Africa. ‘Even the developers are wondering what will happen to the stadiums after the World Cup’, Koning explains. ‘In South Africa there are certainly enough football fans to fill a stadium, but will enough of them be willing and able to pay 15 euros? That is the real question. And that is what is worrying me. The average income per head is obviously much less than in the Netherlands, Belgium or Germany. Football is also the sport of the black population – the underclass, financially speaking. Wealthy white South Africans prefer rugby. That means that one option might be to use the stadiums for rugby after the World Cup.
In Sierksma’s opinion, FIFA should take measures to raise the average number of goals scored in each duel. ‘I am very much in favour of abolishing the goalkeeper’s catch. When the ball is in play, field players are not allowed to block it. I think that should apply to the goalkeeper too. He can use his arms and hands to get the ball out of the way and to block it, but he should not be allowed to hold on to it. At a rough estimate, this measure would increase the number of goals by thirty percent, which would take us back to the level of the 1950s and 1960s. Another improvement would be to abolish the offside rule in the penalty area: the offside rule should cease to apply as soon as there are two players (including the keeper) of the opposing team in that area. I think these changes are a very easy way to make gains. By increasing the number of goals, the price of a referee’s error is reduced and the game speeds up. In addition, spectators will enjoy themselves more if there are more goals.’
This will be a challenge for the Netherlands and Belgium too. Perhaps, for the 2018 World Cup, we should build stadiums that are designed so that an entire layer can be removed afterwards. That seems quite feasible to me, especially when you consider the organization of the 2028 Olympic Games. They will require an even larger peak capacity, and it should be possible to scale it down afterwards. Those are the magic words. An interesting option would be to build stadiums that are designed so that the top half can be removed later and taken somewhere else, for example to Eastern Europe. This type of solution is something that our building industry in the Netherlands could put to good use.’ Text: Riepko Buikema Previously published in: FEB Research
“Creating and maintaining a financial system which enables everyone to obtain their highest level of welfare possible fascinates me” Klaas Knot is an alumnus of the Faculty of Economics and Business and has studied General Economics and Business Economics. After finishing his studies in General Economics he wrote a PhD on fiscal policy and interest rates in the European Community. Klaas Knot is currently employed at the Ministry of Finance, but is also connected to the university as a part-time professor. In a short interview Knot gives an overview of his time in Groningen and his career. Why economics and why Groningen? In secondary school I was interested in economics and I was particularly good at maths, so I considered econometrics but eventually opted for economics. I started with General and Business Economics and almost completed both, but decided to only finish the General Economics degree and dropped the Business degree. Groningen was a logical choice, as I was raised in Onderdendam in Groningen and everybody going to university there went to the RUG. Did you enjoy studying in Groningen? I had an amazing time in Groningen, and I would definitely recommend it to my children, even though they were raised in Amsterdam. Groningen is just one of the best cities to study, the entire city evolves around the students and its small enough to get around on foot. There are just a couple of streets where people go out, which is great because you meet all of your friends when you go out for a drink in Groningen. In Amsterdam for example, you really go out with just a particular a group of friends and chances of meeting other friends are relatively small. Any extracurricular activities and favourite bars? I haven’t been a member of any traditional student association, but was a very active member of the Donitas volleyball club. I’ve been a board member, trainer and coach there. I have also been a student assistant during most of my time in Groningen. While I did do a lot of things apart from studying, I always planned everything concerning my study programme well, so I was able to complete the general economics program cum laude. My favourite bars were Havenzicht and De Troubadour. Which experiences, apart from studying, taught you the most during your time in Groningen? I really learned a lot from coaching a team at Donitas, it is a challenging experience trying to push your team and working with a diverse group of people. As a student assistant, I also learned a lot from the classes I taught younger students. In order to teach other people something, you have to understand the subjects you are teaching a whole lot better than the average student. Why did you choose to do a PhD after studying for six years? Would you recommend writing a PhD to new students? While I was studying, I realized I really wanted to work at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but to even have a chance at 10
Introduction Paper 2010
getting a job at the IMF I realized I needed more than a master’s degree. So the choice to write a thesis after finishing my master’s was based on the desire to work at the IMF. I had been working as a student assistant with Jacob de Haan and Cees Sterks and while working with them, the basic ideas for my thesis started to take shape. While I was writing my thesis, Lex Hooduin from De Nederlandsche Bank informed me that there was a vacancy at De Nederlandsche Bank and asked if I was interested. I still wanted to work at the IMF, but we agreed that I would work at De Nederlandsche Bank for two or three years and could then apply for a job at the IMF via De Nederlandsche Bank. Writing a thesis was a great experience and it shows that you are capable of managing a complex project on your own, setting your own deadlines and that your analytical skills are well developed. I’m in the rather extraordinary position where I am still using the research done for my thesis in the job I am doing today. Most people don’t do that much with the research they have done because the chances of finding a job matching your research area is small, but you never lose the general skills gained from writing a thesis and I would therefore recommend it to anyone. What is working at the IMF like? Actually it was a bit of a disappointment. At De Nederlandsche Bank I had a great time and learned a lot. I was working on the formation of the European Monetary Union, a very complex but interesting project in which we were trying to define the strategy and tools of the European Central Bank. I was quickly promoted to senior economic, but still wanted to work at the IMF. So after working at De Nederlandsche Bank, I applied for a job at the IMF and got a job surveying the Eurozone from the global perspective. It might be one of the most interesting organisations to work for as an economic, but I just didn’t like the rigidity of the organisation. Career paths are fixed for example, in order to prevent any nepotism. Europeans tend to like Europeans a bit more than say Latin-Americans when it comes to working together, because there is always a cultural divide between them. While the idea might be good, it does keep you from being promoted quickly, something I was used to at De Nederlandsche Bank. If you worked hard and did an excellent job you got a promotion. In order to work for the IMF, I had already climbed down the career ladder and I also wasn’t really enjoying the work I was doing. After a year and a half I got a call from Amsterdam that there was a vacancy at management level, effectively asking me if I was interested and if I wanted to come back to The Netherlands. When calculating how much time it would have taken to reach a similar level at the IMF, and I estimated that to be 12 years, this was an extra stimulus to go back to the Netherlands. Living in Washington was great though, and the IMF on your résumé is always the first subject talked about at every job interview. The switch from Washington back to The Netherlands was also a switch from macro-economics, which I had been working on till then, to micro-economics. After working at the IMF, Klaas Knot worked at De Nederlandsche Bank again, then worked as Department Director at the Pensions and Insurance Authority and is now employed as Director of
Financial Markets at the Dutch Ministry of Finance. He is also employed part-time as professor at the University of Groningen. How do you combine being a professor with a full-time job at the Ministry of Finance? I give a master course on money and banking and the sheer number of hours I spend on lecturing is actually enough to fill the hours of my appointment at the university. I use some of my days of at the ministry to teach at the university. So I’m in Groningen on Friday morning and then rush back to The Hague and work there for the rest of the afternoon. Preparation of the lectures is done in the evenings before. When I was working at De Nederlandsche Bank it was easier to combine both. I still have one or two students that write their thesis under my guidance, but that’s about all I can manage next to working at the ministry and still having some spare time left. What was the hardest case of you career so far? That must have been the Icesave case when I was working at De Nederlandsche Bank. We didn’t have any legal tools to stop Icesave and if we told anyone that we had our doubt about the financial position of Icesave, the bank would certainly have crashed. The lawyers of Landsbanki, the owner of Icesave, where very well aware of the fact that we didn’t have any legal tools available. Another major challenge is the reorganization of my own department, from 90 FTE to 70 FTE, while we are in the middle of a crisis and are all working as hard as we can to handle the crisis in the best way possible. That’s kind of a managerial headache. In an interview you once said you are fascinated by functions with a form of public responsibility. Why? I’ve always worked at the crossing of the public and financial sector and while there have been plenty of opportunities to switch to the private sector, I am more motivated by working for the general public. Creating and maintaining a financial system which enables everyone to obtain their highest level of welfare possible fascinates me and that’s why I chose to keep on working in this sector. Who are your economic heroes? I would say Willem Buiter as a funny and straightforward leading Dutch economist. Studying in Groningen I had a lot respect for Simon Kuipers, a very authentic person, very convinced of his own views. And last but not least, I would also like to mention Milton Friedman. Any recommendations for new students? New students: you will probably be working until you’re 70, so please take this time to invest in yourself, take every opportunity that helps you expand your world or increase your skills. Don’t worry about that new car that you want when you’re 22 years old, focus on your future, work hard, travel, and above all: enjoy!
Text: L.A. Rosmalen
Accountancy and Controlling What is: Accountancy & Controlling The Accountancy & Controlling programme trains students to become an expert in distilling relevant information out of a vast number of figures. This could for example concern the status of a company, its growth potential, its investment possibilities, its expansion options, and the question whether the organization is financially sound or not. Students thus become a crucial element of, for example, the management team of the organization. In order to study A&C, a student needs to have some affection with numbers and figures. An analytical mindset is needed to effectively analyse large sets of complex data. However, the programme is not confined to figures. Students may be principally involved with the finances of organizations, but insight into human behaviour also plays an important role in passing your degree. It will be A&C students that advise the captains of industry on their financial policy. Students thus need to be objective, critical and convincing. In the propaedeutic phase students will lay the basis for their studies. You start with a broad curriculum: the first year is the same as that of the first year of the Business degree. In the second year, students will start taking specific modules for the Bachelor’s degree in Accountancy.
Accountancy & Controlling Male / Female
Stefan Baarda is an alumnus of the Accountancy and Controlling programme at the faculty of Economics and Business. Stefan finished his studies at the university of Groningen in 2009 and now works at PriceWaterHouseCoopers. Below Stefan gives an overview of his experiences during the first months at PriceWaterHouseCoopers. I started to work at PriceWaterhouseCoopers after the summer holidays on 1 September. The first three weeks were all about training. I met the rest of the crop (all new starters in my Business Unit) and there was also a initial introduction to how actually carry out an audit as an accountant. Different methodologies were discussed, ranging from stock-taking to the retrieval of standard capital contribution statements. At the end of these two weeks, the last week of the course took place externally - in a hotel in Boekelo - and this is where we were also introduced to the starters of the other BUs. So this is where we met all the starters from the rest of the Netherlands and the external part of the course took place. Unfortunately, I cannot really elaborate on this week, as what happens in Boekelo, stays in Boekelo. Upon completion of these introductory weeks, it was time for the first real audit. During the course, you get a pretty accurate idea of what to expect when you’re just starting out, but this was the moment we got to do some real work. I started working when the interim audits were underway. For accountants, this
means we have to monitor and verify the organisation, the actual implementation and the operation of a client’s procedures. First, we have a meeting with the client about how procedures are implemented (the organisation). During the first few audits, this all seems to be slightly abstract, but over time you gain a better understanding of these procedures and as you start to recognize patterns within the IC trade, the interrelationships of these meetings become visible. When these meetings are finished, we check if the procedures are being executed as discussed (i.e. the procedure’s operation). These meetings are usually attended by a more experienced colleague who will do most of the talking, but the test activities can be carried out independently by a beginning accountant. The supervising colleagues have all had this type of training when they started out and they are well aware of the fact that there’s still so much to learn (trainees generally have lost of theoretical knowledge, but little to no practical experience). This is the reason why it’s carefully explained what the tests entail right from the start and how these should be carried out. The way our activities are conducted are after all basically the same for each client. But based on their needs, we do shift the focus of the audit for each client. No two companies are the same of course, and our clients’ business activities differ greatly. So it might just happen that you’re working at a large construction firm one week and at a educational institution the next. In addition to interim audits, special statements can be issued. This means that we verify if a client meets a specific set of conditions in order to be subsidy eligible. During those first few months, when you are just starting out, you see and learn so much. You gain loads of experience and you get to know a lot of people. To ensure an optimal development, appraisals are conducted regularlyand you have to set your own personal targets that you have to work on. In January the year-end audits kick off. For this, an entirely different audit methodology is used and year-end audits give an even deeper insight into the link between the procedures and the final financial statements. And when the year-end audits are concluded, we can issue the audit report. Text: Stefan Baarda Previously published in: Pro Memorie Magazine
International Business and Management What is: International Business and Management? What is the difference between doing business in India or in Germany? How does a firm deal with the opportunities and challenges of internationalization? Setting up a factory abroad or expanding your market to other countries is not an easy task. IB&M focuses on the international context of this management perspective. Students will learn to comprehend the local, regional, national and international issues that are at play. Imagine a multinational that operates under regulations and laws that differ from one location to another. It will be your task to manage the linguistic barriers, foreign exchange and political risks. It goes without saying that international business requires a diverse set of skills. The IB&M programme is a profile within the Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and focuses on dealing with economic, cultural, legal and political issues in an international business situation. The programme is taught entirely in English. Graduates of Business Administration are jacks of all trades. During the programme, students study business processes, human behaviour in relation to work, marketing, information systems management, law and economic aspects of the business world. Students of IB&M will also develop a general understanding of management and organization. Because many things influence our behaviour, (and culture is one of the most powerful of these things) students will learn to be sensitive to cultural differences, customs and social norms. Business management practices themselves are not free of sociocultural influences. Students will have to learn to adapt their management style and techniques, and change the way they deal with employees, investors, suppliers and distributors.
International Business & Management Male / Female
Bron: Feb Research
First impressions Sjoerd Beugelsdijk (1976) was appointed professor in International Business and Management at the Faculty of Economics and Business in January 2009. He currently is the chairman of the Department of International Business & Management and fellow of the SOM research institute International Economics, Business & Management. Now, 16 months later, it’s a good time to look back upon his experiences in Groningen. Why did you choose for Groningen? Mostly, because I think the research group at the faculty is one of the best groups in Europe in the field of international business (IB) and international economics (IB). The fact that IB and IE have a shared history, that IE is more and more interested in firm level analyses and that both IE and IB have an increased interest in the role of location and geography implies, that the combination of these complementary fields of research in one research group bodes well for the future. Very well, I must say. There is no other group in Europe that has the size, quality and momentum. This high quality is reflected in the six publications in the Journal of International Business administration, and two special issues in the Journal of Economic Geography realized in a period of just two years (next to numerous other publications, editorships, and EU projects). The IE and IB community picked up on this, as reflected in the six tenure track assistant professors that have decided to join us this year. These promising researchers are coming from all over the world. It is always hard to predict, but I expect the coming three to five years to be very good for our research group. People have put a lot of trust in us, and now it is up to us to fully realize the potential.
Could you tell us more about your career so far? I obtained my PhD in Tilburg, worked at the Copenhagen Business School for a year and had several visiting positions. Before coming to Groningen I worked in Nijmegen. Because of a three year NWO grant, I have been in the privileged position to travel a lot, build a network and expose myself to interesting ideas and developments in the scientific community at large. Your chair is in international business & management. What issues are dealt with in your research? In general, IB scholars are interested in the interaction between firm and (international) environment. In a way, IB combines aspects of comparative economics and ‘interactive’ strategy. Comparative because firms behave differently in different contexts, and interactive because when firms cross borders they have to interact with other firms and individuals in the new context. In most of my general interest presentations, and most of my teaching I use the following question to characterize IB: Where do you locate what type of activity in which way, and what effect does this have on firm and environment? And how about societal relevance? How can this not be relevant? The Netherlands is a small open economy, implying that both the positive and the negative effects of globalization are affecting the Dutch economy, firms, and people working in these firms. Firms are offshoring activities to India (and this is not just blue collar work, but increasingly white collar work as well for example, R&D labs), American firms are acquiring Dutch firms, Chinese firms are acquiring African mines that are crucial inputs in production processes of Dutch chemical firms. So, the nature of the research questions that IB is concerned with, makes it very relevant to society. What can we expect of you in the future? After a period of ‘bricolage’, it is important to deliver on the promises we have made, and the trust that people have put in us. Sure, we have to stick to the publication strategy developed in the last couple of years. It will be challenging to continue the high quality publications we are currently realizing. I see two key issues for the coming two years. First, we have to keep on marketing ourselves in- and outside the scientific community. This requires us to be present in key international conferences, organize workshops in Groningen, invite people to visit us, and enable our researchers to expand their international network. Second, because we are a large group consisting of people with different nationalities, personal interests, and different ways of working, it is important to develop an ‘inclusive’ type of human resource management. This won’t be easy, but if it works, the FEB will be one of the most enjoyable places to work.
Marlies van Wijhe
Love for the family business Business
award as an opportunity to talk about family-run businesses. And
I acted in a timely manner and that in doing so, we were able to
is Businesswoman of the Year, but above all, she is the
Van Wijhe Verf, of course, is such a business. A family business
prevent much worse from happening.”
impassioned CEO of family firm Van Wijhe Verf. In this interview
that stretches four generations. From an early age, her father
she reflects on her love for the family business.
made it clear that it was his wish for her and her sister to take
There is an essential difference between family-run businesses
over the business, but there was no pressure from his side for
and other, regular companies. With a ‘regular’ company, it’s
Van Wijhe Verf ’s head office on an industrial park in Zwolle
them to actually do so. It was actually a quite realistic possibility
generally all about profit, whereby the company acts as a means
is getting a fresh coat of paint. The setting inside is lively and
for Van Wijhe to study biology, but at the last moment, she
to obtain this, whereas with a family-run business, the company
you can practically feel the future buzzing here. There’s flower
switched to business administration. As it turned out, this was
itself is key. Profit is just a tool to ensure the continued existence
bouquets everywhere and CEO Marlies van Wijhe’s office even
an excellent choice, as the assignments presented her with
of the company. For Van Wijhe, change is about growth and
smells like a florist’s.
problems she had had to deal with her whole life. Naturally, this
innovation, not about intricate management structures.
was all because of the company. Alumna Van Wijhe has been awarded the title Businesswoman
At age 44, there’s no reason for Van Wijhe to be thinking about
of the Year. “The outside being painted is pure coincidence,” she
At age 21, Marlies van Wijhe had to make a major decision
successors yet. She doesn’t have any children, but her sister,
laughs. “It was supposed to be finished last year, but the winter
though: take over the family business or should the company
who’s also working at the company, does. “As shareholders
was a bit too severe.” She feels quite honoured that she has been
start looking for a successor elsewhere? It was up to her entirely
meetings are in fact a family gathering, they do like to attend too,
awarded this prize, although it does entail a lot of work, as she
and even though she was still living the student high life in
even though they usually find that our meeting are extremely
finds herself to be quite in demand for the giving of interviews
Groningen at the time, the choice was made quickly and without
boring of course. According to my niece, who’s nine years old
and seminars. “But, it is a fabulous opportunity for showcasing
any hesitation. There was no doubt about it: her future was with
now, there was no way that her brother would take over my job
our products. It really works that way. One of my field staff
her family’s paint factory.
in the future. When I told her that he, or she, didn’t have to if they
members told me that people at a DIY shop specifically asked for
In these times of crisis, family-run businesses are doing relatively
didn’t want to, she asked me: “But what do you actually do?”
Wijzonol, just because I had received this award.”
well. Still, Van Wijhe, too, has had to let people go last year. “The building industry is suffering and we do feel this. It was a really
But for these kind of things, Van Wijhe Verf ’s ‘regular’ promotion
hard thing to do and even though I have an extremely capable
plan is still in place of course. Marlies van Wijhe mostly sees this
supporting staff, I have to make the final decision. But I do think
Introduction Paper 2010
Text: Franka Hummels Previously published in: Broerstraat 5
Business Administration What is: Business Administration?
& Controlling or Technology Management. The second year
Achmea Health. Here we had to manage an enormous growth
With the Business Administration (BA) programme, students
is structured around four main topics: Organisation and
because of the earlier introduced new basic health insurance
will learn to take on an academic approach regarding business
environments, the controlling and organising of production
system in the Netherlands.”
matters, for example: what the manufacturing of products or
processes, change management and financial control of
the supply of services involves, which economic insights are
organisations. The third year consists of a management game
When did you start thinking of moving out of the Netherlands?
important to companies and how businesses organise their
and the bachelor thesis.
“A colleague at Eureko told me that they were looking for a manager of a turnaround programme within this health
work. You will examine the use of technology and its influence and how people cooperate. Insight into human behaviour will help you understand how people operate within organizations.
welcome and could bring something to the table.”
aspects of successful entrepreneurship. Graduates are jacks of
What made you actually go there?
all trades. In the course of the programme, students will acquire
“Initially, curiosity and the content of the job. I wanted to find out
insight into business processes, human behaviour in relation to
if I could also be successful in another culture. Curiosity of how
work and economic aspects of the business world. BA students
a change process would work out with these cultural and lingual
will also develop a general insight into management and
barriers. At the end, it was my wife willing to go with me and
organization. The business administration programme is taught
being willing to give up her job in The Netherlands.”
in Dutch. Students will examine the entire production process, from
What’s your experience of Greece so far?
raw materials to delivery to the customer, and learn to look
“It is great! We have a nice place 20km south of Athens and the
at organizations from various points of view. During the
children go to an English school. In the beginning it took quite
propaedeutic phase, students have to complete various practical exams to discover the issues and problems that most companies
A career in a foreign country:, business administration alumnus
face. After this first year, students can switch to Accountancy
Theunis Schaafstra about (working in) Greece Most of the students don’t know for sure what they will do when they’ve graduated. Will I find a job at a big company like Shell, will I run my own business or will I be leaving the Netherlands? One of our former Business Administration students, Theunis
Male / Female
Schaafstra, moved to Greece in May 2008, together with his wife and two children. There he’s in charge of a turnaround programme of the healthcare business of the company Interamerican Greece 0f the Eureko holding. Prospect wanted to know more about it!
matched my profile. So I talked to the Eureko executives and the local managers over there, they gave me the idea that I was
The business administration programme focuses on all the
insurance company in Greece. The requirements of that function
“After graduation, I worked at the Rabobank and after a while I went to Achmea,” tells Mr. Schaafstra, “I had a lot of different functions. After starting at the marketing department and a period as secretary of the executive board business unit, I had the opportunity to lead several change projects. The last three years I was manager of the Claim Handling Department of Avero
some adjusting from my wife, going from a busy job to being a full-time mom, but tis has happened since then. And of course the warm climate makes everything a bit nicer.” The Greeke culture is very different from the Dutch one. How do you experience their culture? “It’s a fascinating country. The Greek culture is very present in everyday life, the citizens are very proud of their language and country.” And the culture differences? “The Greek are an emotional people who want to discourse everything. They live for the day, structure and thinking forward is not common in this culture.” Please go to the Nestor page of the faculty to read the remainder of the interview! Text: Wendy Plakke Previously published in: Prospect
Technology Management What is: Technology Management?
to or from Business Administration is allowed after this first
Kirkman Company is market leader in the field of Strategic
Students of Technology Management focus on structuring
semester. After the first year, students will have to specialise in
Sourcing. As an independent management consultancy, Kirkman
organisations in such a way that products developed by the
either process technology, information and communication
Company helps organisations to improve their results by finding
organisation meet the preferences and demands of consumers.
technology or discrete technology. The choice of specialization
the right balance between carrying out business operations
As a business studies graduate with an understanding of
will determine the technological emphasis of a TM students’
themselves, outsourcing them or enabling more effective
technology, students of TM will be able to make decisions about
delivery through different types of partnerships (Make, Buy or Ally). The company’s clients include forward-looking businesses
innovations in the production of for example stereos, as well as taking measures that are needed elsewhere in the company. After all, change in one part of an organisation often has an effect on
in the trade and industry sectors, governmental and not-forprofit institutions and financial services firms.
all business units. The introduction of new product technology for instance, will have consequences for the designers of new
Kirkman Company employs about 70 consultants and currently
products, for the workers in the workplace, for marketing, for the
has offices in Baarn (Netherlands) and London (UK). From here
financial aspects of running the company and for logistics.
they work on further - international - development in the field of Strategic Sourcing. Their aim is to be the most important global presence in the field of Stategic Sourcing 10 years from now.
Technology Management is a small-scale programme in which students have a lot of contact with one another and supervision by lecturers is very intensive. The programme is also very
Participation in the YSE Program means that I have to carry out
practically orientated and varied. In addition to lectures, lots of
3 to 4 assignments (each lasting 6 months) at different client
practicals, assignments and seminars make the programme very
organisations. Four days a week I am based at the client’s and
tangible, with an emphasis on practical applications. This three-
the Friday is dedicated to my ow development (training, peer
year bachelor programme prepares students for jobs where
discussions and reviews, coaching) or to the development
they have to use a systematic scientific approach when solving
of Kirkman Company. Kirkman’s field of operation is quite
business problems in an industrial context. The BSc program is
diverse and encompasses HR, Operations, IT, Legal & Finance,
taught in Dutch, but several classes, like most of the literature, are provided in English. The first semester of the programme is taught with students of Business Administration and switching
Heerko Geerligs has studied Technology Management at the Faculty of Economics and Business at the University of Groningen and after he wrote his dissertation at Shell, he decided to leave the masses behind and focus on the personal. He now works as a trainee at Kirkman Company.
Technology Management Male / Female
A traineeship. That would be my first introduction to the labour market, that much I knew after graduating in October 2007. My aim was development on a personal and a professional level. An acquaintance introduced me to a management consultancy company called Kirkman Company and what drew me to them, was the fact that, as a consultant, you have the opportunity to
Communication, Marketing & Sales, Procurement and Facilities. Per field of operation we work with Business Units (BUs). For my first 6-month project I was assigned to the BU Operations (focussing on sourcing cases regarding the primary process within organisations). And because the company is small and young, we can really contribute to the company’s growth and there are always options to take on responsibility. For instance, during my first week I was already asked to rewrite the sales proposition of the BU Operations. Please go to the Nestor page of the faculty to read the remainder of the interview!
have a look inside lots of different organisations. At Kirkman
Company, I was offered the perfect combination of all these
This traineeship focusses on your personal and professional
in the form of the Young Sourcing Executive (YSE) Program. development. After successfully completing the extensive application process (a letter, interviews and development with respect to content) I started the Kirkman Company YSE Program on 1 July 2008.
Text: Heerko Geerlings Previously published in: Prospect
“During my internship I felt like Alice in Wonderland!” Heleen Mees is a well known alumna of the Faculty of Economic
roles), the European Commission in Brussels and at Ernst & Young
happening much more at European level. After working in the
and Business. Mees is an economist, lawyer and columnist
in New York. She now runs her own consultancy firm from New York
fiscal sector for a few years I got the chance to write a thesis on a
living in New York with a bi-weekly column in NRC Handelsblad
and is a researcher at the Erasmus School of Economics, writing
subject I have always found interesting and challenging.
and in international newspapers such as The International
a thesis about the influence of the monetary policy of China in a
Herald Tribune, Le Monde, The Financial Times and the Japan
globalising world economy.
Times. She has also written two books, one on feminism and
Heleen Mees is probably best known for her publications on the position of women in our society, and NRC Handelsblad once called
one called Between Greed And Desire - The World Between Wall
What was working at the Ministry of Finance like?
her an ambitious power-feminist with radical opinions. She’s also
Street And Main Street.
I would definitely recommend working at the Ministry of Finance.
the Chairman of the Women on Top organisation.
In a short interview Mees gives an overview of her career. Why did you choose to study Economics and why Groningen? I actually didn’t have a blueprint of what I wanted to do. I didn’t have a very specific career plan; I just knew I was interested in economics from the very first lessons in economics at high school. So I chose economics because of my fascination with the subject. I chose Groningen partially because of the city, and partially because I was a bit naive in those days. What did you do during your studies in Groningen? Any interesting memories from your time in Groningen? I was a member of the Albertus Magnus student association and I have worked as a student assistant, but I do not have a lot of specific memories when it comes to Groningen. There was a bar, Oblomov, where we used to go. What I do know, is that on the rare occasions that I do visit Groningen nowadays, I’m always surprised by how small Groningen is. When I ask someone for
I worked at the Department of Fiscal Affairs at the Ministry of Finance, and it was a very inspiring and challenging place to
Is there a link between your publications on the position of
work, with a lot of excellent staff members. We worked hard and
women and your economic background?
I learned a lot. I have always been interested in public affairs and
People always ask me about my publications on women, even
have really great memories of working at the Ministry of Finance.
tough I do not write that much on the subject anymore. But
While working there, I also finished the Fiscal Economic and
there is actually a link between my economic background and
Fiscal Law programmes at the University of Groningen. This,
most of my publications. At a lecture I said that any woman who
combined with my experience at the ministry in The Hague,
becomes a ‘stay at home mom’ is of ‘low value’. A lot of people in
made it possible for me to work at the European Commission for
the audience took this statement as an insult, but it was purely an
two years. I was appointed at the Competition Law Department
economic reference to the added value of their contribution to
and there I worked on an enquiry into alleged illegal state aid
society. So you could say that economics does give you a certain
provided to Philips by the Dutch government.
way of looking at the world.
After working in the public sector you switched to the private
Any ideas to what your future might bring?
Well, I am currently learning Mandarin Chinese and might be
Basically, I wanted to move to New York and the job at Ernst &
moving to Beijing for a part of the year, so we’ll see what the
Young gave me a chance to do so. While working at Ernst &
Young, I noticed I was more interested in macro-economics than fiscal economy and realized that I did not want to work in the
Recommendations for new students?
away while to me, it doesn’t seem that far away, usually maybe
fiscal sector for the rest of my life. Looking back, I probably would
Go explore the world!
200 meters, sometimes even less. One lasting memory from my
have invested a little less time in the fiscal parts of my career,
time as a student, though it isn’t very connected to Groningen
but my fiscal knowledge did enable me to do a lot of things. After
at all: I have always been fascinated by politics, so when I got a
leaving Ernst & Young, I wanted to stay in New York and starting
chance to do an internship at the Labour Party in The Hague
my own company enabled me to actually stay there.
directions in Groningen, they often say that my destination is far
during my studies in Groningen, I felt like Alice in Wonderland Nowadays you are writing a thesis at the Erasmus School of
Economics. That’s quite the career change... After finishing her studies in Business Economics and General
I have always been interested in macro-economics. However,
Economics and the internship at the Dutch Labour Party in 4.5
when I was studying, there wasn’t much work in macro-
years, Heleen worked at the Ministry of Finance (fulfilling various
economics in the Netherlands. The Guilder was still linked to the Deutschmark! Nowadays with the single currency there is
Text: L.A. Rosmalen
Heleens Mees will be present at the opening of the FEB academic year, giving a short lecture titled ‘The power China’. The opening will take place on Thursday 30 September and is jointly organised by EBF and the faculty. For more information on the opening of the academic year at FEB, go to www.rug.nl/feb/academicyear.
Economics and Business Economics What is: Economics and Business Economics? See how policy makers and business experts attempt to stimulate economic and corporate activity, while at the same time, they are trying to mitigate potentially negative impacts, for example on the environment. This programme provides its students with the theoretical tools and the analytical skills needed to address complex and sometimes controversial issues. The programme is taught entirely in English. During the first year, all E&BE students take the same courses. At the end of year one, they will make the decision to either specialise in Economics or International Economics and Business. Those with a particular interest in social and economic problems can opt for the specialisation Economics. Economists look at economic data, make sense of them, and explain the implication of this data to others. In a way, economics is a way of thinking, of looking at the world and approaching economic problems and as such, the number of applications is almost limitless. The international economics and business specialisation focuses on a world that is becoming more and more integrated and in which firms still have to deal with stakeholders with diverse social norms and expectations, handle sometimes conflicting regulations, cope with different legal systems, and balance multiple currencies. The international economics and business specialisation hands a student the tools to understand and potentially influence the behaviour of international firms, intergovernmental
organisations, and non-governmental agencies in a global business environment. It includes analyses of how the international economic environment affects the strategies of
of a department of Shell. Various other temporary assignments
firms and other international actors.
have a good overview of the organization and that am very well
are also a large part of my daily work. Next to these temporary assignments, the coordinating role of my team ensures that I aware of what’s going on in the organization.
INTERVIEW Personal responsibility is very important at Shell, as I noticedexperienced when , after just two months,I was given the assignment to make a proposal to limit the risks of fluctuations in the exchange rates. Even tough there is an enormous amount of money involved and my knowledge of the subject was limited, it was assumed that I would figure it out by myself and take the initiative to look for answers. Before I applied for my first job, there where a few aspects that I was really on the lookout for in a job. Examples are the international opportunities and culture within the organization and the opportunity to develop myself within the organization. In my current job all of this is present. Joshua Weegenaar is an alumnus of International Economics and Business at thUniversity of Groningen and started at Shell
Every employee of Shell makes a personal development plan with
as Management Information & Planning Analyst. Joshua gives
his or her manager. Parts of my personal development plan are
a short description of his work at Shell and how he got a job at
various courses that expand my current competencies and bring
Shell after his studies in Groningen.
me closer to my goals. The international aspect is also there, since half of my team works in Houston and the colleagues that
Economics & Business Economics
Male / Female
At this moment I’ve been working at Shell as a Management
support the budget process are located in Manila. This might be
Information & Planning Analyst for half a year. After studying
surprising, but most of the contact with colleagues abroad is
IE&B in Groningen I got a job at Shell via the Gourami Business
done with Shell’s own version of MSN!
Challenge and currently I work in Rijswijk at the department that focuses on exploration and production.
My first introduction to Shell was in an international setting. During my study of IE&B I travelled to Portugal with 35 other
The first months were intense but challenging. There were two
students from 10 different countries for the Gourami Business
sides to this challenge. The first one was getting to know my
Challenge. Over 5 quite intensive days we wrote investment
colleagues, the organization and my responsibilities. The second
propositions in various teams. These propositions were then
was getting used to planning my spare time, getting used to the
presented to several senior Shell managers. Apart from a great
working life and the time spent travelling every day. Meeting with
experience in Portugal and a lot of practical experience, it also
friends or doing sports, everything has to be planned.
landed me a job!
As analyst within an Management Information & Planning team I share the responsibility for the analysis of, and providing an insight to, the results and the coordination of the budget process
Text: Joshua Weegenaar Previously published in: Prospect
Econometrics and Operations Research What is: Econometrics and Operations Research?
Econometricians help solve numerous complex and practical
things and not just work solely on one subject. All these aspects come together in my present job as plant controller.
problems. For example they could help determine what are the best locations for radio telescopes in Europe. In order to do this,
My next move is going to be something I already know. I will
they can construct a mathematical model that takes account of
soon be moving up a step in the organization to the business
all sorts of aspects – not only the optimum depiction of the entire
unit level. A business unit is the umbrella organization for all
night sky, but also the construction costs, possible disturbance
AkzoNobel production sites worldwide manufacturing the same
of the radio waves from busy cities and the suitability of the
product. As assistant business unit controller, besides the costs,
construction site. Such models enable econometricians to work
I am involved in the sales side. As a result, I oversee the entire
out the best locations.
business. My work focuses on all aspects. For example, I will draw up the budget for the entire business from sales through to
The main objectives of the programme are to help students
production costs. Furthermore, I will be involved in working out
acquire a sound footing in economics, mathematics and
future strategy, which has to be put into operation at plant level.
statistics; become familiar with the range of important models at the heart of econometrics and operations research and how
Bart Grievink is an alumnus of the econometrics programme
these can be put to best use; develop an aptitude for research;
in Groningen. During his years of study he was involved in
and become skilled in communicating mathematical and
several activities of Albertus Magnus, including the bar- and
quantitative results. All of these things taken together, will
the annuarium committee. At the EBF he was chairman of the
form an econometrics and operations research toolkit . This
Recruitment Days. After graduation, he worked for 4 months at
toolkit can be used to address a wide range of societal issues.
(then still called) ABN AMRO in Singapore. Since the beginning
EOR students’ training will equip them to effectively analyse
of 2008 he was a Plant Controller at AkzoNobel in Delfzijl.
important economic, business and societal issues. Through a
Soon, he moved one step up in the organization and started
combination of mathematics, economics, and statistics (using
as Assistant Business Unit Controller in Amersfoort. Below
the appropriate software), students will learn to translate their findings into viable solutions, and to present and defend their calculations and conclusions. The first two and a half years of the programme are fixed, but upon completion of this set programme, students can choose to specialize in Econometrics, Operations Research or Actuarial Studies.
he gives a short overview of his time as a Plant Controller at
Male / Female
exciting to be involved in managing the entire business. I chose AkzoNobel because I wanted to work for an attractive international company producing tangible products, and where there are opportunities to develop. AkzoNobel is the world’s largest paints and coatings (homes/cars/aircraft) company and one of the biggest manufacturers of chemicals (ingredients for such things as soup, soap, plastics, cosmetics, and asphalt). We have offices in more than 80 countries. As a result, there’s not
only an opportunity to work abroad, but also, as in my case, the
I am a controller at the production facility AkzoNobel recently
built in Delfzijl. My job covers everything relating to costs and production figures. For example, I budget, monitor and analyze
Econometrics & Operations Research
After being involved in managing the work floor, I think it is really
fixed and variable costs, which are very significant. One example of such an analysis is to study the efficient use of raw materials or come up with cost efficiencies. Moreover, I do the property tax evaluation for our facility as well as internal authorizations and
chance to work alongside with Swedish and Chinese colleague Finally, there is a strong focus on developing talent. All in all, AkzoNobel is a very attractive large multinational with a lot of career opportunities. Please go to the Nestor page of the faculty to read the remainder of the interview!
procedures. On top of that, I monitor all the production figures. This is a non-financial task, which enables me to come into direct contact with the production process. The best thing about my job is that I’m involved with everything and everyone. This gives
me a good overview of the ins and outs of our plant. Econometrics was an excellent degree course and provides a good basis, but I found that as a discipline it wasn’t broad enough in scope. I was looking for a challenging job with a lot of responsibility, which allowed me to work with figures as well as people. At the same time, I wanted to be able to do a variety of
Text: Bart Grievink Previously published in: Prospect
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