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Wittenborg Launches First Living Labs Session for its Erasmus INFURI Project

by Wittenborg News -

Wittenborg Launches First Living Labs Session for its Erasmus INFURI Project

https://www.wittenborg.eu/wittenborg-launches-first-living-labs-session-its-erasmus-infuri-project.htm

Wittenborg Launches First Living Labs Session for its Erasmus INFURI Project

Wittenborg Hosts Living Labs Session

Wittenborg’s 2nd Erasmus+ Project “INnovation in the FURniture Industry in the Era of Circular Economy (INFURI)” is in full swing. As part of the project activities, Wittenborg will be hosting two upcoming Living Labs sessions with external stakeholders in the coming weeks. One session will be with furniture manufacturing SMEs and the other with furniture end users. The INFURI project was officially launched in February this year (Read the article here) and involves 6 other European countries. The aim of the project is to spread innovative and sustainable circular business models in the furniture industry with the focus on SMEs. 

Living Labs will consist of a user-centred, open-innovation ecosystem, operating in a territorial context and integrating concurrent research and innovation processes in a private-public-people approach. The purpose of the Living Labs session or the ‘co-creation’ session with end users is to demonstrate how circularity can be integrated in furniture products from the end-user’s perspective and to identify the key aspects related to the circular economy. More specifically, it is to identify potential design improvements in a selected furniture type with a particular focus on functional innovations (services) that can contribute to circular economy.

Wittenborg Launches First Living Labs Session for its Erasmus INFURI Project

Hosts Excited About Event

For furniture and end-users, the Living Labs session will be held on Thursday, 29th April, 2021, from 19:00 to 21:00. The session will be hosted by Wittenborg’s CEO, Maggie Feng and EU Project Coordinator & Junior Researcher, Aydan Ismayilova. Excited about the event, Ismayilova said,” The project has already drawn attention of the local furniture manufacturing community. In addition, our event with end users will be a great opportunity to explore the perspective of the end furniture users. The session will serve as a perfect platform for customers to share how they see the integration of circularity in furniture products, as well to contribute to the design of a more sustainable and eco-friendly product”.

Interested parties can register via the online form here. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the number of participants is strictly limited and it will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

WUP 18/4/2021
by Hanna Abdelwahab
©WUAS Press

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New Study Reveals Block Teaching Improves Student Results Dramatically

by Wittenborg News -

New Study Reveals Block Teaching Improves Student Results Dramatically

https://www.wittenborg.eu/new-study-reveals-block-teaching-improves-student-results-dramatically.htm

New Study Reveals Block Teaching Improves Student Results Dramatically

Research Backs Wittenborg's Choice to Teach Students in Block System

An Australian study has found that teaching students in "blocks" - as at Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences since 2006 - improves students' results significantly. The study was done at Victoria University and came out a few months ago. The method involves teaching units sequentially in blocks of several weeks instead of delivering multiple subjects simultaneously in semesters.

According to a report in the weekly Times Higher Education (THE) undergraduates' results improved by an entire grade, transforming credits into distinctions. The benefits were strongest for subgroups at risk of performing poorly, including the economically disadvantaged and students with little prior education or modest results.

Wittenborg's chair of the executive board, Peter Birdsall, said the study results are "really good news. We designed our programmes according to the block teaching method in 2006 and it has been a tremendous success. All our master's programmes are also designed like that and this research proves that we are right."

The study found that business students also thrived in block mode, but while all groups performed better than under traditional teaching patterns, the advantages were less pronounced for arts and education students, while older and part-time students benefitted only about half as much as their younger and full-time peers.

According to the THE report, Victoria University introduced block teaching for all first-year undergraduates in 2018 as an experiment and is now extending it to other course levels. Research into the block mode found that it has been adopted at other institutions, typically small liberal art colleges, and Victoria is believed to be the first to analyse block teaching across a relatively large cohort.

It is not clear why business students in particular seem to flourish in the block environment, but the key is thought to lie in the intensity of the teaching.

WUP 16/4/2021
by James Wittenborg
©WUAS Press


News Overview Page Wittenborg MBA Graduate Receives Doctoral Study Offers from Top Universities in UK & Ireland

by Wittenborg News -

Wittenborg MBA Graduate Receives Doctoral Study Offers from Top Universities in UK & Ireland

Wittenborg MBA Graduate Receives Doctoral Study Offers from Top Universities in UK & Ireland

MBA Graduate Receives Offers from Top Universities

Jessie Thao Du, a Wittenborg 2020 MBA graduate, has received offers to do her doctoral study from the University of Winchester and University of Stirling in the UK and Maynooth University in Ireland. She has opted for Maynooth, attracted by their academic and financial offer.

Thao, from Vietnam, graduated in June 2020 with an MBA in Education. Pursuing a PhD degree has always been her dream and she hopes to become an educational leader, professor and researcher. Before coming to the Netherlands, Thao worked as an English teacher for about 4 years. Besides teaching, she also had the opportunity to lead a few academic projects in the international school where she worked. From there, her interest in both academic research and leadership management was nurtured and, after getting her MBA, she decided to go further. Her master's thesis, entitled “Distributed Leadership through the perception of teachers and managers in an English Language School in Vietnam: A Case Study”, opened up a new direction for her to do PhD research.

Perseverance and grit pay off

Trying to get a PhD candidacy was challenging and time consuming. Thao spent almost half a year on finalising her doctoral research proposal, as it required a great deal of reading and research, and she had to juggle her two part-time jobs of online teaching and restaurant work. Getting her proposal rejected by the Dutch universities was the most difficult and frustrating time for her. But instead of mulling over her disappointments, she persevered in her search, and changed her strategy. She widened her scope towards UK and Ireland, and finally, the hard work paid off. Her PhD research proposal, which will examine Distributed Leadership from a different angle, caught the attention of experts and she was invited for interviews from top universities in the UK, but accepted an offer from Maynooth University in Ireland. She is now very much excited about her journey ahead.

Wittenborg MBA Graduate Receives Doctoral Study Offers from Top Universities in UK & Ireland

Supervisor elated over success

When asked how the MBA programme at Wittenborg had assisted her in her current pursuit, Thao said that the MBA programme really challenged her intellectually and personally, but luckily, she had a very passionate academic supervisor. She said Dr. Dadi Chen was extremely supportive and she has learnt a lot from him through his comments, advice and references. “He was the most important person in my journey of academic development,” added Thao. Dr. Chen was overjoyed when Thao informed him of the good news, and said that she has always shown herself as a promising young specialist and researcher. She always brought her insights and knowledge from her previous work experience to critical reflections, discussions and projects in the modules, and mastered the knowledge and skills in her chosen field by her excellent self-study skills and working efficiency.

Wittenborg MBA Graduate Receives Doctoral Study Offers from Top Universities in UK & Ireland

Belief in oneself and real effort ensures success

Commenting on her aspirations, Thao said that she hopes to complete her PhD study within 3 years, then teach in higher education and later on start her own school. She aims to venture into the EFL (English as a Foreign Language) market, since she believes it has the most potential in Asian countries. She wants to establish an EFL school with a unique leadership style and teaching approach. Thao believes that we can achieve anything we desire, as long as we believe in ourselves and put effort into it. She also believes that having a PhD degree will open up access to a broader audience, experts and students at higher education level who have the same interests as she has, and hopes to bring changes to the intellectual/academia community, especially in her home country. She aims to inspire more young adults to pursue the same path.

WUP 14/4/2021
by Hanna Abdelwahab
©WUAS Press

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Munich MBA Students Persevered Despite COVID Challenges

by Wittenborg News -
Munich MBA Students Persevered Despite COVID Challenges

First MBA Students from Wittenborg's Munich Campus Graduate

The first students from Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences' Munich campus have graduated – a remarkable feat for these MBA students as almost their entire programme the past year and a half had to be followed online due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions in Germany and Europe as a whole, including the Netherlands. 

Munich MBA Students Persevered Despite COVID Challenges

The students who graduated are Mahmut Cagatay Kirici from Turkey,  Gustavo Buendia from Colombia and Sushma Rajanna from India. All three of them graduated with an MBA in International Management. The students were supervised by Wittenborg senior lecturer Dr Alexander Bauer.  

Wittenborg added Munich as a study destination for its students in 2019 after partnering with New European College who facilitate the campus. Students are able to complete a full Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), MBA or Master of Business Management (MBM) programme in the bustling German city.   

Wittenborg's Munich Campus Director Sascha Liebhardt said: "With the density and demanding structure of the Wittenborg MBA no easy feat even in normal times, it fills me with great pride that all three made it in the regular time despite all the challenges the Corona pandemic has thrown at the students.

"A truly international group coming from Colombia, India and Turkey, they started their studies as normal on campus and then had to switch, more or less overnight, to hybrid studies and with the strict lockdown in Munich to 100% online studies. For all of them, not only did the in-person contact with their lecturers end, but also most of their social contacts.

Munich MBA Students Persevered Despite COVID Challenges

"Having a strong relationship with our students and lecturers, we ensured that the personal contact, although online, was always there and that regardless of the matter students at all times know that they can reach out for support. All three of them showed incredible resilience and successfully managed to stay calm and focus on their studies despite the side-effects of the pandemic. Based on their hard academic work, all three choose MBA thesis topics based on their academic and real-life passions:

"Sushma and Mahmut were both working part-time in the field of their thesis topics and received offers for full-time employment before they even graduated. Gustavo is going back to working full-time with his former employer, he had switched to part-time to accommodate his MBA studies, and will pursue his entrepreneurial idea in the Crossfit sector once the Corona pandemic is over. All three of them intend to stay in Europe," Liebhardt said.  

Sushma commented: "This MBA has been the learning time of my life. Meeting amazing people like Sascha and all the outstanding professors has been a wonderful experience."

WUP 12/4/2021
by James Wittenborg
©WUAS Press

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Food Security is Focus of Amsterdam Project Week

by Wittenborg News -

Food Security is Focus of Amsterdam Project Week

Wittenborg Amsterdam Students Compete with Thousands Around Globe for Hult Prize

Wittenborg Amsterdam Students Compete with Thousands Around Globe for Hult Prize

In a first for Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences, students at its Amsterdam campus recently organised their own Project Week, which saw five groups competing with thousands of other students from around the world for the annual Hult Prize by developing a start-up idea with a huge impact, often around a single social issue.  The theme for 2021 is "Food for Good". The students' mission is to transform food into a vehicle of change by creating jobs, stimulating economies, reimagining supply chains and improving outcomes for 10 million people by 2030. The prize is awarded by the Hult Prize Foundation.  

The Project Week was led by final year undergraduate BBA student Sa'ad Daoud, who is from Jordan and studies at Wittenborg's Amsterdam campus, and is the Hult Prize Campus Director. Daoud said "Wittenborg is the first university in the Netherlands to adopt this programme".  

"The Hult Prize is a global programme that I have recently started to work with which transforms how young people envision their own possibilities as leaders of change in the world around them. With a  $l million start-up prize as its anchor activity, the Hult Prize has brought impact-focused programmes, events and trainings to over a million students globally, creating a pathway for youth everywhere to take action towards building a better world.  

"The Hult Prize consist of 5 stages and the winner of each will move to the next stage, depending on the quality of their idea and the way they present it. Coming up with an idea related to a specific theme is similar to what we usually do in our project weeks; therefore, I thought it would be great to introduce this programme to Wittenborg and start competing internationally, expand our knowledge, get some exposure to the real world and most importantly, tackle a social issue.

"In 2021, the Hult Prize is asking teams around the world to build viable food enterprises that will impact the lives of 10 million people in the next decade while strengthening communities, increasing incomes, feeding the hungry and creating jobs. So, how great is it to be on a road towards a million dollars while still contributing to society and creating a sustainable world for the future?"

Wittenborg lecturer Andreas Ooijer said the groups came up with some excellent ideas. One of the teams looked at creating a system connecting local farmers directly with consumers of fresh produce. "You would be surprised how many farmers operate around Amsterdam," Ooijers said. "We are very proud of how they organised the Project Week and the ideas that the teams came up with."

WUP 10/4/2021
by James Wittenborg
© WUAS Press


Embracing Chaos Theory to Combat Life's Unpredictability

by Wittenborg News -

Embracing Chaos Theory to Combat Life's Unpredictability


Embracing Chaos Theory to Combat Life's Unpredictability

The Chaos Theory

Have you ever heard of the ‘Chaos Theory’? No, it is not referring to the pandemonium caused by an earthquake or a fire outbreak. Chaos is a “science of surprises”. The Chaos Theory is a relatively new branch of mathematics that deals with surprises, the unpredictability of events and the nonlinearity of life. Knowing what it is can actually teach us how to expect and deal with the unexpected and how to cope with uncertainties and changes.

The Real World is Full of Unpredictability and Chaos

Conventional science explains predictable phenomena to us, like gravity, phases of the moon, magnetism or electricity. Chaos Theory, on the other hand, helps us to handle events which are difficult or even impossible to predict and control, like how our body and brain works, the weather, the changes in the stock market, the unpredictability of the business world or volatility of supply and demand . These uncertainties are due to the boundless intricacy of nature which Man has not been able to uncover yet. The meteorologist can provide reasonable weather forecasts and we often rely on these forecasts to make plans, like a picnic or a trip to the zoo, but we do not blame the weatherman if the forecast turns out wrong. Weather forecasting, like many other things, is an imperfect science and not a definitive prediction for what the actual thing will be like. As Albert Einstein said, “As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality”. The real world is full of chaos, with many uncertain events and outcomes.

It is Better to Err on the Side of Caution

So what is the Chaos Theory to us then? Recognising the unpredictable nature of our world is important to help us lead a normal life. Knowing how the Chaos Theory works can provide us new perspective, knowledge, understanding and wisdom. By understanding how things work, the economy, the social systems and the interconnectedness of events, we can help to mitigate detrimental results which can affect us in the long term. Take, for example, the pandemic. It started in one small town in China. But understanding the chaos of things and the unpredictability of its effects, many countries opted to go into lockdowns. They prefer to err on the side of caution rather than take a risk and pay the price of the mistake. And as we know, that cause of action may have helped to prevent many more millions of deaths around the world. 

Embracing Chaos Theory to Combat Life's Unpredictability

Chaos Theory as a Coping Mechanism

Being a student now, you are in a controlled environment where you know when your next class is, who your professor and classmates are, or when the exams will start. But after graduating, you will be out in the field where everything is nonlinear and unpredictable. When you are out in the working world, you are dealing with a lot of people, a lot of protocols, new technologies, and thousands of choices. There are people and organisations who do not follow the law, people who have different cultures and backgrounds and there will be miscommunications, problems with fitting in, inconsistencies of situations, etc. All these can leave you feeling exasperated, overwhelmed and fatigued. Tapping into the Chaos Theory can help you to self-reflect, see things from different perspectives and survive the madness. Understanding how unstable the world is can help you to cope with overwhelming life events and learn to have a Zen mindset, be open and accept what is, and not judge or punish yourself too much over what happens. The Chaos Theory helps you not to lose your sense of purpose and your perseverance.

Chaos Theory Helps You Control the Chaos in Your Life

Chaos is inevitable. Everyone has had some form of chaos in their lives. The loss of loved ones, the diagnosis of a certain disease, the failure to land that job after going through all the recruitment stages. It can be debilitating, demotivating and can affect our emotions and our actions. But if we understand that it is part of our lives, we will realise that it is important to move forward and not look back. See the beauty in the chaos. Maybe that job is not meant to be for you. Be ready for the next chaos. The next ride may still be bumpy but soon, you will find the smooth ride.  

There are several ways to embrace and manage chaos in your lives. Make plans but expect changes. Be aware that plans can be interrupted and you need to have plans B, C and D. Understand and accept that it is part of life and then move forward. Take the next option. Maybe that is not your final destination. Maybe it is just a stepping stone to something better. So move on. The pandemic is a chaos, but many people find opportunities in it and they innovate and improvise ideas and products, instead of lamenting and giving up. The secret is not to be incapacitated by the chaos, but to be alert, identify and grab the opportunities that come with it. By doing these, you can control the chaos that comes your way and live a more fulfilling life, not one of exasperation and failure.

WUP 8/4/2021
By Hanna Abdelwahab
©WUAS Press


COVID-19: Netherlands to Make Self-Test Kits Available to All Students and Staff by End of April

by Wittenborg News -

COVID-19: Netherlands to Make Self-Test Kits Available to All Students and Staff by End of April

https://www.wittenborg.eu/covid-19-netherlands-make-self-test-kits-available-all-students-and-staff-end-april.htm

COVID-19: Netherlands to Make Self-Test Kits Available to All Students and Staff by End of April

Students to Slowly Return to Class from 26 April - Dutch Ministry of Education

In three weeks' time, students in the Netherlands will be allowed to attend classes in person again! The ministry of education wrote to all institutions of higher education as the Easter weekend commenced to inform them that from 26 April students will be able to attend one class per week, after receiving online education for months now since the Netherlands went into lockdown on 14 December, 2020.  

One of the big factors behind the change in regulations is the Dutch cabinet's decision to make self-testing kits available to students and staff at universities from 26 April, which is part of a wider introduction of these kits to society as a whole as another tool in the fight against COVID-19. The Netherlands intends to get everyone who wants to be vaccinated their first shot by at least 1 July – including international students.  

The ministry stressed that testing remains voluntary and institutions are not expected to play a role in controlling who tested and who did not before allowing students to attend classes. Aside from attending class one day a week, the government is also making an exception for exams, practical courses and providing support to vulnerable students. In addition, when students do attend classes in person, institutions are expected to ensure compliance to the usual corona measures, like keeping a distance of 1.5m and the wearing of masks.  

The government will be responsible for funding the self-test kits as well as their distribution and delivery. Institutions will handle the distribution among students and staff. The government will also take responsibility for any other support, such as providing information and funding logistical expenses.  

Students and staff can do the tests at home and it will be their own responsibility to perform the tests correctly as well as informing the institution and the public health service (GGD) if they test positive and adhering to government provisions for people who test positive.  

Institutions are not expected to keep track of students who do the test, but they are expected to monitor the number of tests distributed.  

Though testing is voluntary, the ministry asked institutions to urge students and staff to get themselves tested at home. More information on using the tests will be made by the government soon.

WUP 6/4/2021
by James Wittenborg
©WUAS Press

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Wittenborg Admissions Team Attends ICEF Virtual Eurasia Education Event

by Wittenborg News -

Wittenborg Admissions Team Attends ICEF Virtual Eurasia Education Event

https://www.wittenborg.eu/wittenborg-admissions-team-attends-icef-virtual-eurasia-education-event.htm

Interest among Russian Students in Studying Abroad Picking up Again

Interest among Russian Students in Studying Abroad Picking up Again

While the market for higher education in Central Asian countries is still struggling, interest in studying abroad among Russian students is picking up again. This was one of the outcomes of the recently held ICEF Virtual Eurasia event, which was attended by six representatives from Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences.

The international education event is a new ICEF addition aimed at helping institutions around the world identify new student recruitment partners and refresh existing relationships with agents across Eastern Europe, Russia, Turkey, the Caucasus and Central Asia.

Next stop: ICEF Virtual Africa

Wittenborg Admissions Team Attends ICEF Virtual Eurasia Education EventThis was Wittenborg's 4th virtual event – before ICEF Eurasia, it joined ICEF Berlin, ICEF Higher Education and ICEF MENA. The next networking event will be in June: ICEF Virtual Africa. At ICEF Virtual Eurasia the Wittenborg team had 60 meetings with agents from Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Russia, Belarus, Romania, Ukraine, Turkey, Cyprus, Armenia, Uzbekistan and Poland. The admissions team members who joined the event were Iryna Bernatska, Mykhailo Huba, Yanti Setiawan, Sofia Faraji, Sinan Colasan and Lena Vandenbosch.

Vandenbosch said of the event: "It seems that the market for Higher Education in countries in Central Asia such as Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan is still struggling. In Russia, however, the interest has picked up and students are making plans again. What was noticeable at ICEF Virtual Eurasia was the important role that agents play when it comes to counselling and supporting students in different countries.

"For example, one agent from Russia was explaining how they now have professional coaching sessions with all their students. This is to help them to understand the profile of their students and to make sure that they are in fact applying for a programme that they want to study and not what their parents want them to.

"These sessions also help to determine whether their academic grades actually reflect who they are -  students with high grades may not necessarily be happy in a competitive learning environment just because they have high grades. Basically, they are trying to make the students happy by helping them make the right choice themselves."

Huba said: "The agents with whom I spoke were pleasantly surprised to hear that I am working from the office. They are also glad that we have a lot of flexibility in terms of the intake dates. It is also a good news for them that we apply for the student visa and that their students can come to the Netherlands when they wish to."

WUP 3/4/2021
by James Wittenborg
©WUAS Press

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Meet Latest Group of Students to Join Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences

by Wittenborg News -

Meet Latest Group of Students to Join Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences

https://www.wittenborg.eu/meet-latest-group-students-join-wittenborg-university-applied-sciences.htm

Meet Latest Group of Students to Join Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences

New Students from 15 Different Countries

Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences welcomed its latest group of students at a virtual get-together last Friday, which was also attended by members of staff, including the CEO, Maggie Feng, and Sasha Liebhardt, managing director at Wittenborg's partner institute in Munich, New European College.

While some of the new international students already find themselves at Wittenborg's locations in Apeldoorn, Amsterdam and Munich, others logged in from their home countries as they wait to travel to Europe. What was indisputable, however, was everyone's enthusiasm to start their studies at one of the Netherlands' most international institutions of higher education.

Feng also shared some great news with students, namely that Wittenborg will possibly be able to start with hybrid education again by the end of April as the Netherlands has been in lockdown since mid-December and all education moved online. Feng said she hoped to see everyone face-to-face again soon.

"Welcome to all new students. We are a very international, diverse country and that requires a big, open heart. Many of our professors are international and have done a great journey themselves. Please know we are here to support you and feel free to connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc." Feng told students she came to the Netherlands as an international student herself in 1999 from China and 20 years later she is still here. "Like they say, life is like a box of chocolates, you never know where it is going to take you."

The new students are from Vietnam, Nigeria, the US, Pakistan, Germany, Tanzania, India, Iran, Ghana, Georgia, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Sierra Leone. The past week they were involved with various Introduction Week activities.

Liebhardt says students are joining a truly European academic institution with staff from an international background, favouring students' future employability prospects in an increasingly global world.

Ndbuisi Isaac, a Nigerian student who will do an IBA in Information Management, said he has been in Apeldoorn for a bit now and loves the way of life here. "Life is very simple and people are friendly. When I don't understand something at the supermarket, for example, they will explain it to me in English."

WUP 1/4/2021
by Anesca Smith
©WUAS Press


How to Rise to Top of Sports Industry without Being an Athlete

by Wittenborg News -

How to Rise to Top of Sports Industry without Being an Athlete

How to Rise to Top of Sports Industry without Being an Athlete

Director of Dutch Ice Skating Federation, Remy de Wit, Talks to Wittenborg Students about Business of Managing Elite Athletes

Want to rise to the top of the sport industry – not as an athlete, but as a business manager? Students at Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences recently got a lesson on how to get there by someone who knows what he is talking about: Remy de Wit, High-Performance Director of the Dutch National Ice Skating Federation (KNSB). And that means something - the Netherlands is one of the most dominating countries in the world when it comes to speed skating. At the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, it won 20 medals and is looking to top that number in 2022 in Beijing.

How to Rise to Top of Sports Industry without Being an Athlete

De Wit was appointed General Secretary/High-Performance Director of the KNSB in July 2018. Before that he held various high-profile positions in, among other things, the Dutch basketball sector. He has a master's degree in management and communication as well as a master's in coaching from the Johan Cruyff Institute. Earlier this month he gave a virtual guest lecture of almost three hours at Wittenborg, which included answering questions from students. It was facilitated by hospitality management lecturer, Emmah Muchoki.

De Wit, who has given lectures at Wittenborg before and helped to develop some of its sports business management modules, talked about the mechanisms behind the global infrastructure for elite athletes – in other words, Olympians who win medals and strive to be the best. "By talking to students like you I want to create enthusiasm for working in the sports industry. I want to share my knowledge on practical levels," De Wit told Wittenborg students.

How to Rise to Top of Sports Industry without Being an Athlete

"My personal goal is that I want to show everyone you can become a leader in the sports business. At Olympic level, the Netherlands is a leader in (speed) skating. What you see a lot of in the world of sport is, when athletes retire, they get in the type of positions that I am currently in. I truly believe if you have the motivation, energy, drive and keep in shape you don’t have to be a world athlete to get to a high position in the sports industry."

He also contoured his own journey towards the top, starting as a promising young tennis player, but then taking a different route. "In the Netherlands, as a youth, I was in the top 10 players, but did not have money to put me on the international pathway of touring. In my early career, after teaching, I became a national team coach in basketball and developed a youth academy in Amsterdam. I have been a national team coach for the seniors and youth players and next to that guided more than 150 students around the world, including helping coaches in China."

De Wit said one of the first things students must do is equip themselves with knowledge. "You have to keep up with the news – general news, but also sport in general. Maybe you are into football and already keeping abreast of developments in football, but you also have to be interested in other types of sport because the issues sometimes overlap. Also make sure you connect with as many people as possible. For instance, people I connected with on LinkedIn 10 years ago have proven very valuable to me now even though I had no idea back then I would be in this position."

According to De Wit, the Netherlands wants to win at least 17 medals in the next Winter Olympics in 2022 in Beijing. "I think if we get 17 medals it will be fine. How do we get to that point? One of the main goals of being a high-performance director is that you should not be visible but perceptible because it is all about the athletes. As coach, manager or high performance director you are not at the front. For some personalities that is tough to deal with, and if that is your case, then this industry is not for you."

How to Rise to Top of Sports Industry without Being an Athlete

He also talked about being media savvy. "If skaters, for example, are involved in a doping scandal, you have to know how to deal with the media. If you work in elite sport, you have to know enough to decide which coaches to assign. As far as players are concerned there is no concession. You have to be on time, do your planning and eat correctly. Everyone has to follow rules. The past 3 years we had to let at least 4 people go. That is the hard part about this job."

One student asked about sport analysis and which software the KNSB uses. De Wit said they use a variety of software analysing players' body weight, blood type and a lot of video analysing. "The cost I think on a yearly basis for short track alone is up to €250,000 – more for some other disciplines. We don't outsource because I want everyone involved with the performance of athletes within short range. I believe in working on good relationships and having people close.

"We do a lot of scientific analysis. I'm always analysing – every Monday I make sure to spend a couple of hours on that. We also do a lot of work around policy and talent development. With the Winter Olympics in Italy in 2026, we already started 8 years before the time with developing our talents towards that, making sure the infrastructure is there, hiring hotels, booking all ice rinks so we can train there. Innovation is very important in our preparation so we work with scientists at Dutch universities who are busy every day coming up with new inventions on, for example, our gear."

According to De Wit, identifying talents years before an event is also important. "China, as big a country as it is, is not really successful in winter sport because they start to develop their players two years before the event. Many Dutch coaches were recruited by China to help with their performance. All of them came back because they found it hard to work within that country's structures."

WUP 30/3/2021
by Anesca Smith
© WUAS Press


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