Stay connected! Tilburg University facilitates strong ties among graduates and between graduates and their school or graduate associations.

Tiny Sanders

After previously holding interesting positions at Mars en Campina, Tiny Sanders took on the challenge of leading PSV football club through a difficult period. He began his degree in business economics in 1975 and graduated with distinction in 1980.

How did you experience studying at Tilburg University?
“The second half of the 70s was a dull period where little would be looked back on. At that time, Tilburg was not a real student city. Together with my mate Kees van Moorsel, who studied psychology, I initially lived in one space with a large and a small room. The small one became our shared bedroom, the large one our living and study room. The difference between economists and psychologists was immediately evident. My fellow business economics students reacted by saying: together in one bedroom? Are you..? Do you..? Whilst the psychology students, on the contrary, all thought it was super. They then became disappointed when we told them that we did it purely to save money.”

What did you think of the university back then?
“The university was efficient and reliable, not scintillating. What appealed to me was the extra attention for philosophy. Being able to put things into perspective – asking questions about the cause of things - is crucial. Because as a manager you have to constantly take care that you do not become short sighted; that you do not concentrate too much on a single goal and forget what is going on around you.”

Did you get a lot out of your degree?
“Business economics was still not a fully developed programme. The link with practice was absent and the study material was out of date: the content of some lectures had remained unchanged for five years. That would be unthinkable in these current rapidly moving times. Still, I did get a lot out of my degree. The basic topics have been particularly useful. People who graduate in economics think that they immediately have to become a manager. But you first have to know a subject, such as bookkeeping. Only when you have the basics you will understand how the finances of a company work.”

"The university was efficient and reliable, not scintillating. What appealed to me was the extra attention for philosophy"

Did you also do anything in addition to your studies?
“In the beginning, I lived close to ‘Broodje Jantje’ and also frequently went to a nearby pub. I used to sell Italian fabrics for one of the local regular customers. With my first ‘company car’, I drove past all sorts of shop owners in Brabant. Another part-time job was interviewing war victims. Both jobs were a good source of extra income. But when it came to study fees, I did not have to worry. For those, I received a stable monthly sum of money from the Van der Willigenfonds because my father worked at Philips. I am still thankful to the company for that. And also for the internship that I had in the department of corporate strategic planning at that same organisation, Philips. That was terrific because I learnt about (amongst other things) ‘scenario thinking’ from all sorts of foreign smart people.”

Did you also go abroad?
“Unfortunately, I narrowly missed the chance of a foreign internship. Two weeks before the departure date, I was forced to abandon my plans for an internship in Turkey. We thought that we were going to manage a hotel, but it turned out they needed receptionists.”

"During your studies, make sure you have a solid network. In the future, that will be very useful"

After completing your studies, did you remain involved with the university?
“After graduating, I never went to the university again for almost twenty years. But when my son went to study in Tilburg, I strengthened my ties with the university. I have been a non-executive director of TiasNimbas, have participated in the soundboard group of the university, and was a member of the advisory council of the School of Economics and Management.”