"the quality of controllers increases and that makes us happy"
January 5, 2015
An interview with Dr. Ronald Spanjers, chairman of the curatorium for the Executive Master of Finance and Control / Register Controller (EFMC/RC) program.
What does the RC curatorium do?
The curatorium monitors the quality level of the course and advises the course director, Prof. Michael Corbey on this matter. Think of us as his critical friend, who will inform you of a piece of lettuce stuck between your teeth and who will help you get rid of it. To answer the typical controller's question right away 'how does it affect the price of the course?', we are not paid for our work. We enjoy making a contribution and it allows us to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in controller education.
Who sits on the curatorium?
The curatorium includes representatives with experience and who work in industry, for the government, the care sector, in banking, education and consultancy. What's more, we are appointed for a maximum of two terms of four years, which explains why we currently have two vacancies. What we all have in common is practical and theoretical knowledge of the controller's profession and of knowledge transfer. Our members' ages range from forty to sixty because we look for people with broad experience and preferably at governance level. We have reached the point that most participants are aiming for, the position of CFO.
How do you safeguard the quality of the course?
We monitor the participants' performance, grades, theses, inflows and outflows, sometimes attend a degree award ceremony and read a thesis. We monitor teachers' performance and the assessments provided by participants. Now and then we invite a teacher for a discussion or we pay them a visit. If a teacher does not meet the standards we advise the management to implement an improvement plan. If there is no improvement we replace the teacher. We also encourage forward thinking so that new teachers with modern perspectives are available in time.
You say 'modern perspectives', has the role of a controller changed that much?
Many tasks that previously required technical skills, for example, are now automated with BI tools. Naturally the course does not teach participants how to work with BI tools, but to ask the right questions. Is this tool being used correctly? Are the results complete? Etc. Then comes the important part: performing an analysis based on the results, which is linked to an organisation's objectives and advising a board on possible measures. This is the greatest change we see. Modern resources take over the detective work from the controller, so that he/she has more time to perform the role of adviser.
If the curatorium wanted to add modern elements to the course, what possibilities are there for doing so?
We are faced with a maximum study load and the course management must therefore weigh up the choices that can be made in this context. And we naturally have to deal with national exams. The content of the course must always reflect this. Take the example of being able to write for the target group. This is a soft skill for controllers that I believe requires more attention but the study load restricts us. We help the management compile a list in these cases.
How does the Dutch controller do on an international level?
The TIAS Executive Master of Finance and Control (EFMC) has a good reputation. The Netherlands is a country with many multinationals, our controllers are based all over the world and take their knowledge and skills with them. The Dutch culture, clearly speaking your mind and doing so in several languages, obviously helps in this job. Over the years we have seen the quality and scope of the course increase. As a result the quality of the controllers has increased. That is the curatorium's objective, it's what makes us happy.
Composition of the RC Curatorium
- Dr. (Ronald) R.W.L. Spanjers, chairman of the curatorium, Board of Directors Integraal Kanker Centrum Nederland
- Prof. Dr. (Jeroen) J.P.M. Suijs, Head of Department Accountancy, Tilburg University
- Drs. (Frank) F. Geelen RC MBA, Deloitte Partner - Consulting / CFO Services
- Drs. (Helmer) W.J. Vossers, Director of the Government Finance Inspectorate (Inspectie der Rijksfinanciën)