Aswin van Oijen
Aswin van Oijen is Associate Professor at the Department of Management and Academic Director of the Master Strategic Management and coordinator of the extended master. This interview focuses on his efforts for the extended master.
"I strongly believe that it is a privilege to work with young people and be able to provide them with knowledge, skills, and an attitude that they can build on in the rest of their lives."
What is the purpose of the Extended Master?
The extended master has two main purposes. The first one is to provide companies with better access to our most talented students. The second one is to further increase the employability of our students. There is only so much you can do in a one-year master program, so we build in a six-month traineeship for ambitious students who want to go the extra mile. The traineeship is composed of professional skills training, personal coaching, and advanced assignments for one of our external partners. The original master’s program that our students have chosen is left intact, but students obtain a prestigious certificate in addition.
How is the cooperation with external parties?
We embrace co-creation for the extended master. A small core team propels the program forward, but, since it is such a wide initiative, we collaborate with other academic directors, the management team, career services, and even parties in other schools and at the central university level. Our external partners contribute to the design of the program, provide coaching and training, and ultimately profit from the assignments that our students complete for them.
Even at this initial stage, we have a sizable number of external partners, but we are in the process of acquiring more. So if colleagues have contacts at companies that could benefit from our program, we would love to hear from them. Our proposition is sometimes a bit challenging for partners, because it requires support of the top management, line management, and the finance and HRM departments. However, most are really enthusiastic and looking forward to absorb all the energy and creativity that our students have to offer.
What motivates you?
I strongly believe that it is a privilege to work with young people and be able to provide them with knowledge, skills, and an attitude that they can build on in the rest of their lives. With that comes a large responsibility. It is essential to attract the right students, with a large academic and professional potential. Then we help them achieve that potential by exposing them to a carefully designed and executed, state-of-the-art program. Finally, it is vital to keep in close contact with them after they have graduated. Graduates can make important contributions to our education and increase the career opportunities for our current students.
Part of my mission is also, for example via our students, to contribute to the further growth and sustainability of business in the South of the Netherlands. Many students still focus on the traditional multinationals from the West of the country. However, these are not necessarily the companies for which they have most added value, nor do these offer the best career prospects for them.
Who was your mentor?
I have learnt a lot from both my senior and my junior colleagues. Once you lose this openness of mind and start thinking you have seen it all before and know it all better, you really should move out of this business. If I have to choose one person in particular, that would the emeritus professor Sytse Douma. First on his list of priorities was always the entire organization, but this was closely followed by the interests of all of his employees. Much further down on his priorities list, if noticeable at all, were his personal interests.
Aswin van Oijen