Director Marielle Heijltjes treats anyone who thinks that postgraduate education - learning and development tracks for professionals - has been leading an ailing existence at the School of Business and Economics (SBE), to a frown.
“Turnover was sufficient to support ourselves, but it is true that the demand for what we offered was less than we had envisaged. We didn't grow, while we did see opportunities. There was something frustrating about that, also because this type of education had been set up in a big way in Tilburg and Rotterdam.”
What was the problem? Fragmentation, says Heijltjes, professor of Managerial Behaviour. “Education for professionals wasn't a priority for the departments or they were busy with all kinds of other things. Making it difficult as a faculty to set up a single display, it also lacked a distinct character. Further training for members of staff wasn't easy either, because coaching professionals is different from teaching students. They know much more and what you are actually offering them is a theoretical lens to take a fresh look at their work.”
SBE has recently reshaped its postgraduate education system. Including a unique, interdisciplinary profile. “Let me give you an example. Not so long ago, we started a programme with the medical faculty, in which we give leadership training to cardiologists who are specialised in cardiac arrhythmia. How to lead a team? How to supervise change processes? In September, we are also going start an executive master in cultural leadership, with contributions from the Faculty of Law and FASoS. We will do this together with the Royal Academy in London.”
In doing so, it is important to maintain the strength of Maastricht, says Heijltjes. “Which is, as we often hear from our clients: providing a tailor-made service. We are still rather small, which means that we can do this better than Tilburg, for example, where postgraduate education is provided on a larger scale. We recently supervised a change process on Daimler’s shop floors in Kyoto and Stuttgart. The car industry has become complicated, with all kinds of smart technology and new types of fuel, which is why the company wanted a more modern kind of leadership.”
We will (again) have talks with our own departments to discuss what researchers can contribute. “They can ask themselves, looking in from the outside: which questions can we answer with our specific knowledge and expertise? Together, we will then explore if there is a need for this knowledge.”
In five years’ time, UMIO must be “a UM-wide player in the field of interdisciplinary professional development,” as Heijltjes prefers to call it. “We not only want our own departments to know us better, we also want more collaboration with other faculties.”
A place has been reserved at Tapijn in the middle of 2019. Heijltjes has a hand in the interior design of the building, because it is crucial for this type of education. “The groups that come to visit us vary from 15 to 40 participants, and depending on the module, they sit at a large table, at small tables, and sometimes in a square. So, our rooms must be flexible. Not too long ago, we had dancers come in during a workshop on identity, pride and personal strength. The dancers represented the impact of leadership with their stature.”