Last year, Peter van den Dool received his Executive MBA degree after three amazing, meaningful but also difficult years: during his MBA studies, he lost his father. Thanks to the support from a group of fellow students successfully graduated within three years. We called him for a catch-up.
This time last year, Van Den Dool’s life revolved around his own Graduation Day. What an exciting time it was, he remembers, particularly because six of his closest study friends also received his degrees. “We used to be quite a notorious group of friends within Business School Netherlands (BSN),” he says.
Whilst it has been a while since he graduated, the bond between him and his fellow study friends has remained close. “We still get together for six to eight Action Learning sessions per year. Besides that, we also have a lot of fun.”
The friendships that emerged during his studies have become very special, Van Den Dool says. “You have after all shared such an intense period with one another. During your MBA studies, your entire social life is in complete disarray. That is what pulls you close as study friends,” he says. “As a result, you’ll get to know each other through and through.”
Losing your father
Whilst meaningful, his time at BSN was difficult at times – and not just because of the continuous juggling between studying, working, and family life. “During my studies, my dad passed away. Emotionally, I wasn’t able to spend time on my studies for about half a year. Besides that, we had to arrange all sorts of things with our family business. Fortunately, I was ahead of schedule. I could have graduated within 2.5 years hadn’t my dad died.”
Running two companies
How has his post-BSN life treated him over the past year? Things have gone very well, says Van Den Dool, who currently runs two companies. Whilst NxtBizz is about guiding start-ups, Actreevate is specialised in helping family businesses make the transition from the current to the new generation. “I started these ventures during my studies,” he says, adding that his MBA is playing a fundamental role in the success of these two businesses.
“The most important thing I have learned is the ability to look critically at business and human processes,” he says. “An MBA teaches you to ask the right questions, converse in a specific way, and identify the links between businesses and human development processes. I have become much stronger in terms of dealing with problems in the workspace, too.”
Roping in fellow students
Van Den Dool has some good advice for future BSN-students. One of them is to communicate what your studies are about at home and to make some good agreements in terms of this process and your progress. “If your partner gives you the time and space to study for an MBA, then don’t take longer than strictly necessary. Stick to those agreements!” he says. “Also, rope in your fellow students and chase after one another. When someone of our group was getting behind, we’d always call in a meeting. You will need that. The passion with which you will set off, will at times not be there so prominently.”
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