Build better businesses by leading with purpose

Naiza Gutiérrez is the Manager of Billing & Collection at LeasePlan Netherlands, as well as a student in the Executive MBA: Leading with Purpose at Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam. She shares her experience in the program, including key learnings and what makes the program so unique.

In short

Leading with purpose: The most unique part of the Executive MBA at VU Amsterdam

The Executive MBA: Leading with Purpose at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is an 18-month, part-time program for senior professionals with at least five years of work experience. The most unique aspect of the program is its emphasis on purpose. It helps students uncover a larger sense of meaning in their work. During the program, students reflect on their own purpose as well as the purpose of their organizations.

For Naiza, this is the most compelling part of the program. She says, “It’s very unique for a program to start with deep reflection instead of going through the common business challenges in this business role.” (00:18)

In recent years, we’ve seen a stronger presence of purpose in business. In a McKinsey survey, 82% of respondents reported that it is important to have a purpose. However, only 42% said that their organization’s purpose statements drive impact. Based on these findings, McKinsey urges organizations to reflect on their purpose and embed purpose as the company’s “superpower.”

Thus, VU Amsterdam’s Executive MBA: Leading with Purpose offers a clear solution for leaders looking to explore and strengthen their personal and professional purpose.

Getting unstuck: Why Naiza chose the Executive MBA: Leading with Purpose

Originally from Curaçao, Naiza moved to the Netherlands in 2001 to study. She is currently the Manager of Billing & Collection at LeasePlan Netherlands, a leading car-as-a-service company specializing in automobile leasing and fleet management. Naiza explains, “We actually purchase, fund, and manage new vehicles for our customers. My role in this beautiful organization is Manager Billing & Collection. I’m responsible for the implementation of goals, procedures, and policies to make the entire collection and billing process run smoothly.” (01:01)

During one of her annual performance evaluations, Naiza expressed her happiness in the role as well as some challenges. “I was thinking maybe it’s time for me to get new, fresh insights and [be] challenged on my way of thinking because I felt like I was really stuck – stuck in how I behave and how I’m leading people and how I’m dealing with practical challenges,” Naiza says. (01:37)

After further discussions with her manager, they came to the conclusion that an MBA would be beneficial for Naiza. “It was, for me, a natural choice to choose the Vrije Universiteit since I studied there before,” she reveals. “I started looking at the possibilities at the Vrije Universiteit and came to this Executive MBA program.” (02:10)

Building better businesses through practical learning and deep reflection

Organized into six blocks, the curriculum of the Executive MBA is designed to transform students into purpose-driven leaders. Here is an overview of the curriculum:

  1. Block 1: My Personal Leader Purpose… Putting Yourself at Stake
  2. Block 2: Business Foundations
  3. Block 3: Leading with Purpose for Business and Stakeholders
  4. Block 4: Strategic Decision-Making and Organizational Innovation
  5. Block 5: Leading a Business Through Transformations and Crises
  6. Block 6: Capstone Project

The program also makes use of practical assignments and evidence-based learning. This benefits both the students and the environments in which they live and work. Naiza explains, “I’ve been able to transfer all these evidence-based theories and methods to my own working environment [and] my own practical challenges on the work floor. So, it wasn’t only beneficial for me but also for my company.” (02:34)

Since the program starts with deep reflection, it is unsurprising that reflection has become a key part of Naiza’s process. “The way I apply evidence-based learning is just by being more critical – by asking myself questions. Why am I doing this? For who am I doing this and why is it important for me [and] the company? So, just being more critical and thinking a lot more about your own decision-making,” Naiza elaborates. “Just to have the skills to impact my working environment, but also beyond that the people around me and the difference I will make within our society.” (02:50)

Purpose will undoubtedly continue to play an influential role in businesses today. With programs like the Executive MBA: Leading with Purpose at VU Amsterdam, we can be sure to see more purpose-driven leaders who can effectively navigate crisis and uncertainty.

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