Doing business in Europe: The Nyenrode EU visit

Succeeding in business isn’t just about excelling at finance, marketing, and data-driven strategies. There are a plethora of external forces that both restrict and enhance companies. We heard from MBA students on the Nyenrode EU visit who learned how organizations must react to make their mark in the European Union.

In short

The EU: A major influencer in business

No matter how much you learn in business, it’s important to remember that we don’t live in a vacuum. Politics, social changes, and cultural shifts all have a considerable effect on the success of a business, and being able to navigate these complicated waters is a valuable skill for leaders to learn.

You can’t simply arrive at the world’s largest trading group and expect to start doing business in Europe. There are employment rules, financial and tax requirements, and corporate social responsibilities to take into account before you can legally do business. 

However, when companies from abroad enter the EU market, it’s mutually beneficial. Dr. Ir Wolter Lemstra, Associate Professor of Strategy, explains, “The more continents that are represented, the more diversity there is, and the more different ways people are used to doing things. Bringing those together, learning that, gives an appreciation on how to be effective in business in later life.” (02:16)

The student project in Brussels

The Nyenrode EU visit to Brussels gives MBA students practical exposure to the inner workings of the European Union and how to tackle the institutional regulations for businesses. Dr. Ir Lemstra outlines, “I gave them the assignment to develop a market-entry strategy as a mobile operator coming from outside Europe into Europe.” (00:06)

When they completed their business idea, students had to deliver a proposal to a panel of experts who asked probing questions about their strategy. Therefore, it is not just a test of solid business knowledge, but public speaking and debating skills come into play as students present their ideas.

What students learn on the Nyenrode EU visit

Manvi Singh, Full-time MBA student at Nyenrode Business University, summarized the visit: “I’ve read so much about the EU…but we’ve never known what goes on behind the scenes. So I think we got a glimpse of it today.” (01:16)

Aside from the hard and soft skills that students practice under pressure, they get first-hand experience of how the EU works and who the major players are. Rather than working with theory, they have the opportunity to make mistakes and learn in real-time from the panel of experts judging them. 

Nyenrode collaborates with other figures to give their students a more rounded visit. Among them is Dr. Luciano Morganti, Professor of European Institutions at the Free University Brussels, who described the learning objectives. “They will better understand the legal context, the legal framework, the political framework, and so they will know who makes the decisions and what kind of decisions affect today, and might affect in the future, their business in Europe,” he shares. (00:24)

The wider context of the Nyenrode Full-time MBA

As we’ve heard, the Nyenrode EU visit is an eye-opening opportunity for students, especially those from countries outside the European Union. However, to get the most out of business trips like this, each experience must be connected to others to create an interlinked web of knowledge. 

Alexander Novikov, a Nyenrode Full-time MBA student, spoke about the EU trip as it related to the overarching European Immersion Module. “The immersion program was a challenging and interesting program with trips to Barcelona, Zurich, [and] London. We interacted with names like Google,” he says. (01:28

Alexander’s contribution highlights the sheer variety of lessons learned outside of the Full-time MBA program. By making students aware of the political implications through the Nyenrode EU visit, as well as how leading multinationals operate, students can move into the business world with confidence.

Implications for businesses beginning in the EU

Nyenrode Full-time MBA students didn’t just learn about the rules and regulations of the EU, they also took a deep dive into what effects the same framework has on businesses. 

Richard Feasey, Former Group Director for Public Policy at Vodafone, says, “Companies, I think, have to be straightforward and honest and understand that if you can come in and provide good information and good data about the consequences of decisions, what it would really mean in practice, then often you get a good hearing and you can influence the process.” (00:51)

Reflections on the Nyenrode EU visit

We’ve covered the intended learning outcomes of the course and the context that the trip sits in, but what did the students and organizers think about the experience? 

Gareth Mead, one of the Full-time MBA participants, saw particular value in the practical side of the visit. He says, “Standing in front of a panel of experts who obviously know their industry inside-out when we’re outsiders, was both nerve-wracking but also really helpful. It made us think very differently about the problems that we faced.” (01:49)

If you’d like to hear more about the Nyenrode Full-time MBA experience, reach out to student ambassadors directly through the MBAGRADSCHOOLS Ambassadors Page.

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