A year at TIAS: interview with Philippa Chapman

January 17, 2019 | 3 min read

Recently, we got together with Philippa Chapman, lecturer within the Personal Leadership and Career Development program at TIAS to discuss her background, TIAS and the Netherlands.

1. Where are you from and what led you to a career in professional development workshops?

I am from the UK, but I have lived and worked abroad for most of my adult life. Having lived in Belgium, France, UK I am now living in Kenya, Africa and divide my time between the African continent and Europe.

I studied languages and taught languages in the UK and abroad. However, I didn’t want to remain in academia as I was more interested in the growth of the person, rather than conveying the academics. At one point I was asked to translate a program from English to French so it could be taught in French and thought: I want to do exactly this! This is what I want to do with my life.

To be able to do this profession, however, you need to believe that people can grow and that every person you teach will grow, otherwise you will not be happy doing this.

2. What do you do outside of TIAS?

I work with different organisations and clients outside of TIAS. I work with them on management team development or with leadership and development workshops similar to those I teach here at TIAS. Examples of projects I currently work on or have worked on are: NGOs in East Africa, a construction organization in the Netherlands, Imperial College London, a Global engineering company in Sweden, management training for the BBC and I am currently also involved in pro-bono work with an NGO in Nairobi and an educational institute in Uganda.

3. How is TIAS different to other universities/business schools or businesses you have provided workshops at?

TIAS is a lot smaller. London Business School, with whom I’ve worked previously, for example has a group of 400 MBA students and is therefore much larger than TIAS. The fact that TIAS is a lot smaller than other organizations or institutes means that it is also far more intimate.

In addition, the FTMScBA program caters to a younger audience than the clients I usually work with. However, the MBA programs and PTMScBA program have a similar audience to the clients I usually work with.

4. What do you like about TIAS and teaching here?

What I like most about TIAS and teaching here is the fact that I am very integrated in the program and the school, which is very important to me. I feel that I can make a difference and that the program offices also listen to me and take my feedback on board. As my business currently only exists of me it means that I only hold myself to account and can be a lot more flexible. It’s also great that I get to see the students at several different moments throughout the year, which provides them with continuity and allows me to see their development throughout the year. I very much like the fact that every single year I get to meet new students and can try to understand them all over again. By seeing them at the beginning and ending of the year I really feel that I can make a difference. In addition, I am gathering more and more stories throughout my time as a workshop provider and by combining work in organisations and business schools I can provide them with situations from the real world.

5. According to you, what do students enjoy most about the professional development workshops you provide?

I believe there are three things:

  1. I provide an informal, familiar atmosphere and I go out of my way to put the students at ease.
  2. During the workshops the focus is on the individual students and how they behave. They get to think about themselves and about how to improve, rather than being provided information and theories they have to apply.
  3. They receive a lot of feedback from one another during my workshops and I very much encourage constructive conversations, providing them with new insights.

6. What do you enjoy most about Utrecht and the Netherlands?

I love the open, confident, positive and light atmosphere in the Netherlands. I also love the enjoyment of life in the Dutch culture. I like the fact that so many kids cycle to school, or adults cycling to school with their children, or teenagers cycling to the hockey. I believe the bike culture is a huge confidence builder in the Dutch. There also seems to be a greater sense of work-life balance than in the UK. Furthermore, the Netherlands is so close to everything, Germany and Belgium are just across the border. The country also makes me feel safe. However, I don’t like it when the fog disrupts my flights at Schiphol, or when trains are disrupted.

In addition, Utrecht feels like a second home, a fairytale city. I always feel like I’m walking into a film set when I step onto the cobbled stones. I love soaking up the buildings, the quirky angles, the small streets, the lovely water, I absolutely love it.

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