Graduation TiSEM

First Entrepreneurship & Business Innovation graduates

Character 4 min. Swaans Communicatie

The BSc Entrepreneurship & Business Innovation is an academic program that caters to students who really want to get ready for entrepreneurship and business innovation; it is meant for people who want to make a difference. The first cohort of students graduated on Thursday, September 28. New graduates Paulina Wierzba and Harald d’Oultremont join Academic Director Wynand Bodewes in taking a retrospective look as well as gazing into the future: "Like driving a car as it is being assembled."

Like the students, Wynand also started at Tilburg University in 2020. Reflecting on the rationale of the program, he explains: “Academics at Tilburg University conduct a lot of valuable research on innovation and entrepreneurship. That made a Bachelor’s program focused on those aspects a logical step. With the commitment of academics and education professionals, we use research as the foundation for our teaching. Through this, we aim to build a strong new generation of ambitious entrepreneurs.” 

From Canada to the Netherlands 

Paulina grew up in Warsaw, Poland, and attended high school in Canada. She explains why she chose Tilburg University: “I was eager to return to Europe and searched the student portal for a Bachelor’s program in business administration. The BSc Entrepreneurship & Business Innovation at Tilburg University was one of the programs that caught my eye. I was excited by the possibilities it offered to further develop my knowledge and learn skills in finance, marketing, and business administration.” Fellow student Harald was attracted to the program in particular by the opportunity it gave him to shape his future as an entrepreneur. “I wanted an academic program that could teach me the methods, techniques and associated critical thinking skills that I need to realize my ambition. Tilburg University proved to be a good match.” 

Wynand Bodewes

Not abstract cases, but learning in real-world settings

Wynand Bodewes

Best of both worlds 

The program does not teach students about entrepreneurship, says Wynand. “Instead, we teach for entrepreneurship. The program also includes a series of Entrepreneurship in Action courses which allow students to learn by doing. Not abstract cases, but learning in real-world settings.” For Paulina, it is that link to actual practice that enhances the value of the program. “For many people, it’s quite a nervy experience the first time you call an entrepreneur or the Chamber of Commerce. But once you’ve got the person you want to talk to on the line and said what you want to say, you quickly notice that they are more than willing to help you. The threshold also was gradually lowered. The practical experiences in real-life settings ensured we can apply what we’ve learned straight away, and that is a huge advantage.” 

It's nice that your opinion as a student counts and that you’re taken seriously

Paulina Wierzba

Paulina Wierzba

A car in the process of being assembled 

The Bachelor’s program caters to open-minded thinkers, who see and also seize opportunities. “I sometimes call them rebels. It was like that first group of students were driving in a car as it was being assembled. That makes them pioneers. And that is exactly what the program is about. Entrepreneurship requires the same resilience.” Harald considered the pioneering aspect as one of the advantages of the program: “The entrepreneur scan at the start of the program showed that I have a strong tendency toward exploration and discovery. That meant I had no problem coping with the lack of fine detail and definition in the program just yet.” Paulina sometimes had difficulty with the fact that the program was still under development. “The semesters varied considerably in terms of how hard they were. Fortunately, we had the opportunity to give feedback and share our experiences, and the balance now in the first year is much better. It's nice that your opinion as a student counts and that you’re taken seriously.” “You develop something you think will work,” says Wynand. “But you need a practical setting to see whether it actually works.” 

Harald d’Oultremont

Fellow students are ‘doers and adventurers’. People who want to change the world and create new value

Harald d’Oultremont

Learning from one another  

Harald found his fellow students to be ‘doers and adventurers’, just like himself. “People who want to change the world and create new value. So, I found the contact with other students to be highly motivating and instructive.” Paulina agrees, and especially liked working in teams: “You can then see how everyone works toward the goals of a project in their own way. That showed me the benefits of easing up on control every now and then. It’s the diversity of individual roles and approaches that can give rise to great things.” 

Master’s program and entrepreneurship 

Paulina has chosen to stay in Tilburg and is currently doing a Master’s degree in Strategic Management. “I see myself working in a corporate environment in the future. My Master’s program is giving me time to discover exactly where my interests lie and what drives me. After graduating, I hope to get a job at a company like PWC, Deloitte or JPMorgan, in a strategic or financial consulting role.” Harald has started building his own business. “I’m developing a solution to the shortage of technical professionals in the fields of plumbing and installation engineering. Guided by my own curiosity and drive, my goal is to continue to come up with answers to contemporary and future issues.” Wynand is extremely proud of his first cohort of Entrepreneurship & Business Innovation students at Tilburg University. “Imagine the challenge of starting a completely new academic program during a pandemic. These students took on that challenge and triumphed. I am proud of each and every one of them, and very curious to see where they and our Bachelor’s program will be in five years’ time.” 

Date of publication: October 3, 2023