Wittenborg President Nominated for Forttuna Global Excellence Awards 2024

Wittenborg President Nominated for Forttuna Global Excellence Awards 2024

Peter Birdsall Short-listed in Category ‘Business Leader of the Year in Education’

In recognition of the dynamic trajectory of his career in the fields of business and education, marked by dedication and innovativeness, Wittenborg president Peter Birdsall has been nominated for the Forttuna Global Excellence Awards 2024 in the category ‘Business Leader of the Year in Education’. 

This is the second edition of the initiative, which this year is divided into the areas of ‘Business Leaders’ and ‘Health and Wellness’. The award ceremonies will be held in Dubai on 6 and 7 December respectively.  

Birdsall was informed about his nomination in March, having been short-listed by an international jury composed of seasoned industry professionals renowned in their fields of activity. 

“Throughout my career, I have always been focused on promoting internationalisation and implementing cutting-edge academic programmes that prepare students to excel in a globalised workforce. I am particularly proud of what my wife Maggie and I have achieved at Wittenborg, which we took over in 2008 and turned into the most international business school in the Netherlands. This is also the result of the work of all of our collaborators, academic and professional staff, who embody our core values of internationalisation, diversity and ethics,” he commented.  

As a leader, Birdsall seeks to inspire others through frequent and open dialogue with faculty, staff and students, and an open-door policy for inviting discussion. “I present the developments of our school regularly at various events, regularly attend meetings and walk into classrooms to meet and talk to our students and staff. At the same time, our executive team and I empower our faculty, staff and students to be part of the development of the business school and contribute where they feel they can play a role. This is done through student representation, staff representation, faculty councils and various committees that are involved with all the different aspects of running the school.” 

The president of Wittenborg encourages education professionals to remain ethical, fair to their colleagues, staff and students, and considerate towards all stakeholders. “I would advise anyone going into my field, especially in private higher education, to understand that quality-driven excellent business schools require strategic vision planning, leadership with integrity and above all patience and long-term vision.”

International career path  

Born and educated in the UK, Birdsall left school early to be involved in entrepreneurial start-up ventures, including a theatre company, a performance art centre, an English pub in Switzerland and an Italian restaurant in the Netherlands. Subsequently, he started and completed his higher education, focusing on education management, while raising his baby daughter as a single parent. His educational journey began in the early 1990s at a public university in the Netherlands. Since then, he has accumulated over 30 years of experience in Dutch higher education, leading Wittenborg together for the past 20 years with his wife of 25 years, Maggie Feng

Birdsall's tenure at Wittenborg started in 2008, when the family bought it for € 1 and reshaped it into the international and diverse, nationally and internationally accredited business school it is today. The past 16 years have been marked by significant growth and development, with the institution having conducted numerous transformative initiatives and undergone multiple accreditations.  

Wittenborg has expanded its academic offerings to include a range of bachelor’s and master’s programmes aligned with current industry standards and anticipating future trends, and designed to be internationally relevant, drawing students from around the globe, delivered by a faculty that mirrors this diversity. Currently, Wittenborg boasts students and staff from over 120 countries, making it one of the Netherlands' most diverse higher education institutions. 

The president of Wittenborg advocates practical learning and has sought to forge strong links with the business community, enhancing the school’s curriculum and ensuring that students gain valuable real-world experience through internships and applied research projects. His vision also extends to the faculty, who he encourages to engage in continuous professional development and remain at the forefront of their respective fields. 

Additionally, Birdsall is involved in educational policy development at both national and international levels and advocates for policies that support international education and cross-border collaboration. His expertise is often sought in discussions on the future of international higher education.

WUP 29/04/2024 
by Ulisses Sawczuk 
©WUAS Press