The first steps towards career reinvention: a participant shares his journey so far

Since graduating as an education scientist a decade ago, Niel Van Meeuwen has forged a vibrant career as a partner associated with international consulting company, Kessels & Smit.

Currently enrolled on our Online MBA, Niel is looking to inject new perspectives into his work and reenergise his approaches to learning and development consultancy. His passion for self-improvement is proving a potent match for our 100% online programme, as he explains here.

What made you want to study an MBA?

“I have two main objectives. The first is to increase my professional impact by cultivating my management skills and language. The time I currently spend within organisations is limited, so I feel I’m coming to the boundaries of what I can achieve. Redeveloping my role more towards (interim-) management will enable me to benefit organisations even more, so I want to improve my financial knowledge and skills in strategy and negotiation,” Niel explains.

“Secondly, I feel that after 10 years it’s time to study again. I think that to reinvent yourself, you need something that really triggers you – that’s why I chose to do the Online MBA.”

What made you want to study online?

“It’s very practical,” he says. “I’m self-employed and an entrepreneur, so the idea was that studying online would allow me to organise my time around my work with clients and my family life. I’m in the field of training and development myself, so it’s fascinating to see these things can be done online.”

What have you found to be the main benefits of the online format?

“You have the freedom to arrange your own time, and you can decide yourself where to focus your attention. Whether it’s articles, exercises or group discussions, you choose what kind of thing you dive into deeper.

Niel continues, “For me, it’s group discussions, not only on the virtual learning environment but also via Whatsapp and other communication channels. There’s a vast variety of people on the programme, and working with people from all around the world is such a powerful learning tool. The fact that you’re doing the same MBA creates a lot of connection and interaction.”

Have you been able to apply any of your learning to your professional role yet?

“As a partner with Kessels & Smit, I’m co-responsible for the financial processes. The Financial and Managerial Accounting course has really helped me assess whether we’re doing the right thing and if we could be smarter. I’ve already applied a lot of what I’ve learnt, it’s given meaning to the numbers,” he says.

Marketing is another area we’re making progress in. We looked at client segmentation last week on the programme, which is something we’re going to implement at our own company.”

What do you think sets the Vlerick Online MBA apart from other MBAs?

“You are well facilitated online and your online tutor really helps in reflecting and bringing in your own experience. Having a tutor who’s available online, good at giving feedback and helps the discussion go deeper, that’s the strength.”

“I also like the fact that you focus on one theme at a time. You can really dive into the content in detail. Before I started, I wondered how in depth the courses would be, but I’ve been surprised by how quickly we’ve dug into the heart of each subject.”

What’s the course you’re most looking forward to?

“I’m most looking forward to the Strategy course, because I think it will enhance all the other courses. I’m also keen to do the IMEx (Integrated Management Exercise) game at the end and to see what we’ll learn from it.”

What would you say to someone thinking of applying to the Vlerick Online MBA?

“I would say that it really helps you organise your life. Studying, working, family; the fact that it’s online really helps.”

“Self-discipline is important but so is interaction, because you can’t do it on your own. As a learning consultant, I deeply believe that learning only really occurs between people, and for that the Online MBA has a lot of tools. It makes discussions happen, interactivity happen, even live sessions with people in a class from all over the world.”

Niel concludes, “It’s totally worth the investment you will make because you can act on your learning immediately. Just the fact that I am an MBA participant has created new opportunities for me, as people see it as a mark of quality. I’ve had the chance to participate in bigger projects with more impact, which is exactly why I did it.”

Although his online learning journey has only just begun, Niel is already gaining tangible benefits from his studies and laying the groundwork for an advancement into consultancy management. Take a step towards putting the benefits of our Online MBA in context within your own career by completing our online form on the right.

Accreditations & rankings

  • Association of MBAs
  • The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • Financial Times