How Boy combined a career, raising a family and an MBA
April 18, 2019 | 3 min read
His friends and family had their doubts. With young children and a demanding job, was it wise to add an MBA program to the mix? But Boy Sleddering wasn’t going to put off his dreams any longer. 'I always headed to Tilburg with a smile on my face.'
Boy Sleddering (35) has been working for Rabobank Nederland as a social media specialist in the communications & corporate affairs department for several years now. “I’m very grateful for the opportunities that I’ve received to grow and develop professionally,” he says. But after being promoted to head of the social media team, Boy began to feel a bit restless. Specialization has its disadvantages. “I wanted to expand my knowledge base.” He decided to pursue an MBA degree. Sleddering wanted to examine his organization's business strategy more thoroughly, as well as improve his leadership skills. There was only one problem: where was he going to find the time for a two-year MBA program? In addition to his full-time job and busy social life, Boy also has young children. His son was born just before he started his MBA and his daughter was born last summer, after Boy had already begun working on his thesis.
Up for a challenge
'It’s definitely challenging,' Sleddering admits. 'But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. I’m proof that it can be done.' Sleddering studied at TIAS School for Business and Society over the past two years. Once every four weeks, he travelled to Tilburg to spend Thursday through Sunday attending classes. Many of his other weekends were spent working on assignments, which wasn’t always easy, especially while continuing to work full-time. 'But just because something is difficult doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it,' says Sleddering. 'Sometimes it’s important to do things precisely because they’re challenging.'
Good planning is crucial
One of the reasons that Boy chose to study at TIAS is because of the way classes are scheduled: once every four weeks. 'It’s a clear, predictable schedule. One in every four weekends is reserved for school, but then you’re off the other weekends. It’s easy to plan around.' In order to successfully combine work and study, good planning is crucial. 'I’ve definitely gotten much better at planning,' Sleddering laughs.
Another reason for choosing TIAS was that the program is not simply focused on financial and economic issues, but also encourages participants to consider the broader context. Sleddering: 'We also discussed the potential impact of business policies on society. The program takes a long-term perspective. It’s a mentality that’s shared by my employer. Rabobank is a mission-driven organization that places a high value on social engagement.'
Promotion to business manager
Boy was fortunate that Rabobank Nederland supported his plans. 'I started my study program in consultation with my employer. One of the advantages of working for a large company like Rabobank is that they believe in investing in talent.' Sleddering’s MBA program started to pay dividends even before he had finished: he was promoted to business manager for the communication & corporate affairs department. In this role, he serves as the “right-hand man” to the departmental director and his management team. Sleddering: 'I was able to put the things I learned during my studies into practice immediately.'
For Sleddering, going back to school yielded benefits beyond the degree itself. 'I now have a better grasp of our primary business processes and I’ve learned to assess issues from multiple perspectives. I also have a better understanding of issues relating to finance.' Sleddering has been able to put the things he’s learned into practice in his work in corporate communications. “My MBA program helped me to become a better communications professional.'
Particularly useful was the opportunity to meet the roughly 50 other participants, all of whom hold high-level positions in organizations in different fields. Sleddering: 'Ultimately, you learn the most by discussing issues with others and finding out how they handle them in their own organizations.'
According to Sleddering, when tackling a challenge of this scale, the key to success is to manage expectations. 'Before taking the plunge, I first discussed everything thoroughly with both my family and my employer.' He knew in advance that there would be times when he felt less motivated to work on his studies. 'But that wasn’t really an issue in the end. I always headed to Tilburg with a smile on my face.'
Are you ready to strike the right balance between work, study and personal life and give your career a boost? Download our guide and discover how you can combine a job with one of our master’s programs.