Wittenborg University: An organization To Call Home
With only several days left until Amsterdam Tech Job Fair, we’d like you to have another look at our venue partner – Wittenborg University. Today we come to you with an interview with Maggie Feng, the University’s CEO. Check it out to learn more about them and how deeply they get involved with their students.
Who are the creators of your brand? What do they do in life, what are they passionate about?
Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences was founded in 1987 by Dutch entrepreneur Williem H Nijkamp. The school quickly grew into an expertise centre for Banking and Insurance and Real Estate Management, providing these industries in the Netherlands with hundreds of graduates.
What’s the story behind the creation of your company? What inspired you to start your business?
I got involved with Wittenborg in 2002 and our family took it over in 2008. I was an international exchange student who came to the east of Netherlands, to a city called Deventer, in 1999, from Beijing. I had, later on, worked in the international office of a large public institute. With my experience as a student and a staff of a large university, I have seen all the challenges around international higher education. So turn a private Dutch “Hogeschool” to an international University of Applied Sciences and have full internationalisation going through all different aspects of our organisation, was indeed a passionate dream.
What’s your current view on the market you work in? What makes you feel like your brand stands out?
International higher education is vibrant and ever-changing and challenging area to work in. Students from all over the world are moving around the globe to study and to experience foreign lifestyles. I think it is important to not only focus on the academic achievement of the students but also try to understand that there is much more than the lectures and books to formulate their experience. Our brand stands out because we are small in size, we are private and we are truly international. Now we are with around 800 students and with more than 80 nationalities at all times.
Do you have a special story of something unique you did for a client? Something unusual you did as a team, something memorable you’d like to share?
I have buried a Chinese student who came from a poor background, from countryside. She was named Debbie and she is now lying in peace in a small village near Apeldoorn, in Epe. Her parents decided to leave her here under the care of Wittenborg, after a long battle against 3 different types of cancer. She lost the battle and I have been there with her during her last weeks and days. One can never forget this. We have founded Debbie Foundation to fulfil one of her last wishes.
What’s your company culture like? What is that you want to represent?
My company is a very flat and open organisation, like a big family. I would like us all to represent the new way of working: we are structured and flexible at the same time; we learn new knowledge and gain new skills; we run our tasks in teams and in an international environment; we love diversity and we stick to our ethics.
What is your team like? How do you work?
My team drives themselves. I am a true multi-tasker. I work in different teams, I have different roles, I am a project manager, programme planner, internal coach, external relation coordinator, administrative staff member… I love to find the right person for the right job and then let them get on with tasks that they are happy doing. In the end, that is how we grow our organisation.
What kind of people are you looking for? Who’s the best match for your team?
I love positive people with a big smile. Different roles and tasks require a different set of skills and knowledge. In the end, an open-minded and inspiring person is best for us.
What benefits and perks do you offer your employees? What’s the biggest plus of working for you?
For foreigners who do not speak Dutch fluently, our organisation can make them feel home. We have been through all the same challenges before and many of us having experience in studying and working as foreigners in the Netherlands. We are a family to help and support each other during difficult times and having big celebrations during festival moments.
What are your goals and plans for the future? What’s your biggest ambition?
I would like to grow Wittenborg to a top boutique university of Applied Sciences with campuses in various cities. We are now in Apeldoorn, Amsterdam and Vienna. Soon we will be welcoming the first group of students in London. Who knows, what the next city will be…
And there you have it – now you see why we’re so happy about having Wittenborg University as our venue partner! You can learn more about them by visiting their website, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. And of course, you can see their campus personally after you book your event ticket!