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The first PhD candidates of the Professional PhD Program have started

Published: 07th October 2021 Last updated: 18th October 2021

Tuesday afternoon, September 24, 2021. A group of seven PhD students were on the terrace of the Auberge du Bonheur recovering from the clinic by former field hockey international Marcel Balkestein they had just attended. These candidates are participating in the Professional PhD Program (PPP) of Tilburg School of Economics and Management (TiSEM. Although they are all doing their research over the globe, most were together this week to get to know each other and the faculty.


The PPP proposes an academically sound and high quality program to professionals operating in the fields of economics and business. The PPP gives the opportunity to professionals to write their doctoral dissertation without interrupting their professional career. The Professional PhD Program fits  Tilburg University’s moto “Understanding society”. The eagerness of academics to share their knowledge to society at large is the cornerstone of the design of the Professional PhD Program. Anne Rutkowski, director of the program, stated that “structurating and extending collaboration among institutions in higher education and the private-public sectors via the participation of top candidates to the program is solar to the knowledge society, and therefore in fulfilling our mission as academics. The scope of the participants’ research interests is a good illustration and speak for itself in term of societal relevance.”

Due to corona, the kick-off for the first cohort of students, who started in September 2020, could not take place. Hence, both cohorts were present for the kick-off on campus this year. Seven of the 11 candidates could take part in person of the week-long workshop organized by the PPP team of TiSEM's graduate school.

Connection with the work field

One of the requirements for participating in the PPP is that there must be a relationship between the research project and the field in which the PhD student is working. The participants must have the support of their organization in terms of research time and resources. For the participants listed below, this is certainly the case.

Dmitry Khotimsky, for example, owns the second largest private bank in Russia. He knows better than anyone does how important a stable economy is for a country, and how closely this is connected to companies' ability to make stable. The title of his study is: Profits forecast and asset allocation. His research will contribute to existing profit theories in and provide clear links to national statistics. In addition, he will resolve a set of theoretical and practical problems such as correct definitions of aggregate profits, principles of consolidation, adjustments for foreign operations, tax treatment, and banking reserves treatment.

For Daniel Rieger from Indianapolis (USA), the motivation to participate in the PPP is more personal, although there is a clear link with his position as Deputy Director IT strategy of the City of Indianapolis. He stated that digital transformation is required for success in the modern world. Yet, government organizations remain laggards in adopting new decision-making and management technologies.  He is eager to move from practical work to academic research. His research will focus on how leaders successfully drive technology adoption and digital transformation programs in government.

Mohamed ElDo from Egypt works in the area of international business development. His work is in the area of technology, sourcing, consultancy and security industry and in government security contracting. The title of his research project is: Threats to Privacy & Online Users Behaviour. He is currently conducting three studies in an attempt to provide a comprehensive understanding of online users' behaviors in different contexts of privacy threats. 

Albert Mandemakers from the Netherlands works at Breda University of Applied Sciences as a coordinator of the Master's program of Supply Chain Management. He also works at Logistics Community Brabant (LCB), from where he is conducting his PhD research. His research is about the behavior of supply chain actors in Covid-19 vaccine supply chains. Central to his study is the impact of that behavior on the effective and successful scaling and implementation of these supply chains.


PPP and elite-level sports

PPP hockey clinic

“Just like playing elite-level sport, doing PhD research requires a lot of discipline, structure, motivation, commitment and time management,” says Marcel Balkestein, a former field hockey international who won the silver medal with the Dutch team at the Olympic Games in 2012. He combined his Economics studies at Tilburg University with a top sport career, so he knows what it's like - just like the PPP participants - to have to keep plates spinning.

Marcel will continue to follow the PPP participants throughout the PhD program and support them socially and mentally. The aim is to visit the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024 with the first cohort, the same year that they are scheduled to complete their PhD research. With the group that started in 2021an look forward to visiting the Winter Olympics in Milan in 2026. So the participants have a fun dot on the horizon!


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