Strategy, Innovation & Leadership

"Opportunities for the future by expanding your vision"

March 14, 2016 | 3 min read

Since completing the Executive Master of Management and Organization at TIAS, Leonie Claes is more frequently asked to help with problems at a strategic level within her organization. "The program really does expand your vision."

Leonie Claes is senior Quality and Safety advisor in the Catharina Hospital in Eindhoven. Together with Manon van Eupen, she wrote the master's thesis "How student-related factors influence study performance" after research at Fontys. The  vocational training institution wanted to gain an insight into student-related factors responsible for students not completing their propaedeutic study within one year.

What has your research shown?
The research primarily confirmed a number of issues which had been demonstrated by earlier academic research. Successful studying is significantly influenced by the student's sex: women are more successful than men. Three other student-related factors also play a part; the average final mark of the preliminary training, lecture attendance and the amount of time invested in self-study. It was an eye-opener for Fontys to notice that students often choose a program at Fontys, because others are of the opinion that they should do the program. They had other expectations of the intrinsic motivation.

For your thesis you had to conduct research within the organization of another participant in the group, in this case Fontys. What did you think of that?
I thought it was very interesting to dig deeper into another organization. You see the internal processes and politics and you have to read up on the background. We were fortunate with our Fontys client, where they are of course used to graduates. They understood what we were doing there and what we needed. But if you for instance go to a glass fiber manufacturer, I can imagine it would be more tricky. Moreover, you are not an entirely blank sheet of paper, because one participant in your group is already working with the organization where you are conducting your research.

What was it like to write this thesis together?
It was enjoyable and intensive. We divided up the different parts of the thesis. For instance, I did among other things the quantitative research; the survey among the students, and Manon did the qualitative research; the interviews with teachers and staff members. We cross-checked each other and were in daily contact. You can and must motivate each other in this period. There is always a moment of despair, because you are also busy with work, children, etc. Then you can help the other one through: keep it up a little longer! In the end, we kept to our schedule and we even finished before the deadline. It was really hard work. But it left me with a really good friend.

Which module of the master did you find the most interesting?
I enjoyed the module "Innovation" a lot. In that respect we visited the Hightech Campus in Eindhoven and there was also an inspiring lecture about what the future looks like. I couldn't immediately apply the knowledge from this module in my current job, because hospitals have to comply with extremely stringent rules before anything new may be introduced. This cannot be compared with innovation in industry. That profit aspect is a different ball game altogether. But that is just the reason why I chose this generic program. There is so much more in the world, and I wanted to open my eyes to it. It has given me plenty of new insights.

Did the master meet your expectations and what was your experience with the study pressure?
I thought that the lectures would be similar to the recollections of my study period: a bit stuffy. However, that was not the case. The right professors have been arranged for many modules. They are all enthusiastic and they have a very good presentation technique. They know how to hold a group's attention and keep them active the whole day. Questions are handled both from literature as well as from practice. The master does require an enormous time investment. The self study of sixteen to twenty hours which is planned is certainly needed, so don't underestimate it. You are given a lot of material in a short time. Now that I have finished the program for some time, I miss that input of information.

Has the program been an advantage to you in your career?
I am now more often requested for complex problems at a strategic level and play a greater part in that respect. For instance, I am now involved in drawing up a long-term vision. I also provide support with the assignment of tasks and responsibilities between the departments. All sorts of parts from the program are involved here, such as marketing, personnel management and change management. Also I take advantage of the structures and conceptual frameworks as offered in the program. You don't have the same degree of interfacing with each module. But the program certainly expands your vision and offers opportunities for the future.

Executive Master of Management and Organization

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