In one word: fantastic! Our BSN Jubilee Event ‘The Next Step’ on December 1st was a success! Last Friday, about 100 BSN alumni, teachers, students, and staff celebrated the 35th anniversary of Business School Netherlands at the main location in Buren. The grand celebration and global event were opened by our mayor, Hans Martijn Ostendorp. Our global colleagues and alumni also joined the celebration online.
For 35 years, BSN has been known worldwide as an accredited business school that combines professional growth and organisational development in the Rivierenland region, the Netherlands, Africa, Asia, and beyond. During the jubilee event, we reflected on almost four decades of development and impactful sustainable achievements by our students and organisations worldwide. Now, BSN is focusing on ‘The Next Step,’ therefore the event was entirely dedicated to the challenges that organisations of our invited guests currently face with vaious workshops that were presented.
At half-past nine in the morning, our guests entered the well-known business school in Buren, walking over the blue carpet and under an arch of orange, blue, and golden balloons. The kick-off began in the Council Chamber, where Maartje Mikx, our host for the day and also a former colleague, comedian, and moderator, warmly welcomed everyone. Mayor Hans Martijn Ostendorp opened the jubilee event with words of praise for our business school and symbolically hoisted the BSN flag. As a thank-you for this kind gesture, Toine van den Heuvel, our Dean, surprised the mayor with an Honorary Master certificate.
Joint toast with the BSN Global Community
A highlight of the day was the joint toast to 35 years of Business School Netherlands with our Dutch and international colleagues, teachers, alumni, and students, both physically and online. The transfer of the Dutch Alumni Association, Tractus, to the BSN Global Community (Chapter Netherlands) marked a new phase in our global collaboration and knowledge-sharing. Chairman Gerard Ekhart and board member Robert Koolen bid farewell to Tractus with kind words, and the new board members of BSN Global Community NL were welcomed: Esther Bout, Remco Engels, Eric van der Hammen, Sem de Vries, John Zhang, Anita Moolhuizen, and Indra Kolmus. Annette Nijs, President of BSN, introduced our Global Community in general (with all BSN branches together). A crown on ‘The Next Step’ was the launch of our corporate video, which not only highlights our history and successes but also sheds light on our vision for the future of BSN and its global community.
The Next Step with current focus areas?
Time for The Next Step… In an interview with Maartje, Toine talked about our focus areas for the coming year, including Digital Transition, Sustainability Leadership with Impact, and Leading Resilience in turbulent times. Guests got a preview of these themes in concentrated workshops that will also be part of our masterclasses.
What is the impact of digital transition on companies, and what resistance does it bring? Speakers Genieke Hertoghs and Martijn Aslander, also teachers of this masterclass at our campus in Buren, discussed it with our guests. An important key to open the door with your people when there is resistance: not pushing but pulling; ask your people questions, show interest, and break the unconscious pattern. Genieke and Martijn also asked the guests what they find most challenging in the transition. The answers will be taken into account in the development of the masterclass. Our guests found the biggest challenge to be security/risks/ethics.
Sustainability Leadership with Impact
Speakers Alexander Heijkamp and Toni Sfirtsis, also teachers for this masterclass, talked about the urgency for companies to prepare for the Corporate Sustainable Reporting Directive. This will be mandatory for 75% of all companies in the Netherlands from 2025. Not only your financial reporting is important, but also the material impact of how companies deal with our planet, social human issues, and their governance responsibilities (ESG) and your personal why as a leader to contribute. Many organisations and their leaders don’t know where to start. Alexander gave a glimpse of the double materiality matrix. This matrix is used in sustainability reporting to identify the most significant material ESG topics for an organisation and stakeholders. Finally, Toni stated, “ESG is not a program but a movement” with principles that are important for the learning and change process.
The Next workshop ‘Leading Resilience’ was conducted by Norbert Greveling and Roland Bushoff, tutors of Strategic Management. Because, yes, we see everything around us changing rapidly and complex issues coming our way, but how do you lead resilience to stand firm in turbulent times? With a playful element, guests first interactively reflected on Strategic Management 1.0. How did we do it initially? What deviating characteristics of today’s business environment are we dealing with now? And what new Strategic Management 2.0 is needed? Norbert and Roland provide knowledge, tools, and insights in the masterclass for charting and navigating a resilient course.
Back to the Wild
We stay in the playful element for a while because after that, it was time for “Back to the Wild”! Speakers Thijs Visser and Liselotte van Steenis took our guests out of their comfort zone. Back to the source of life and acting from there when facing a challenge… Not jumping straight to the conclusion… But first, connect with yourself and the people around you. This is based on the Theory U model. This model involves various levels of human existence: mental, psychological, social, and spiritual. And so, our guests were sent out in pairs to tackle their business or personal challenges together by asking each other questions while walking. Through the U-process, you can find new solutions to complex problems.
At the end of the day, it was time for a social, where fond memories were exchanged. The atmosphere, the smiling faces, and the special moments truly made this day unforgettable.
With thanks to all participants, speakers, and stakeholders, we look back with satisfaction on a jubilee event that not only celebrated the past 35 years but also inspired us to confidently take ‘The Next Step.’ We look forward to the future, where we continue to grow, develop, and create impact together with our global community. Here’s to many more years of success and innovation at Business School Netherlands!