Alumni Experience a Valuable Contribution to Panel
Wittenborg’s Professional Field Panel was officially rolled out in an MS Teams meeting on 18th June. The purpose of setting up this panel is to bring together Wittenborg’s faculty, business practitioners and working graduates (alumni) to ensure that Wittenborg’s programmes are in line with the industry’s requirements and market trends.
The panel is made up of two members of the Advisory Board, Wittenborg's two Heads of Schools and five alumni. The two members of the Advisory Board are Rijn Platteel and Wim Oonk. Platteel has been appointed Chair of the Panel. The decision to include alumni on this panel is to ensure that Wittenborg can take advantage from the experiences the alumni bring to the new developments and changes, as they have experienced the programme planning, delivery and the final outcome of the programmes offered at Wittenborg.
In his opening remarks at the start of the meeting, the President and Chair of the Executive Board, Peter Birdsall stressed that, as a university of applied sciences, we have to make sure that our programmes are teaching students what they need for their futures – not to produce graduates that are totally programmed, ready for a particular company or industry, but rather to produce job incumbents that are equipped with as many skills & competencies and as much knowledge as possible to place themselves correctly within the organisation. Graduates that are able to build and develop on their solid foundations are said, by many of Wittenborg’s external discussion partners, to be the best positioned.
The main expectations from the panel are fourfold:
- To contribute to validating the student learning competences, through their active participation in discussions on the programme curriculum content and design.
- To update on new industry development and point out the need to develop new skills, competencies, and specialisations.
- To ensure alignment of study programmes and modules with the requirements of future business needs and the job markets.
- To introduce and initiate new/missing market trends, skills, and knowledge to be incorporated in the programme's curriculum/modules.
Industry Experts and Experienced Entrepreneurs among Panel Members
The appointed chair of the panel, Rijn Platteel, besides being Chair of Wittenborg’s Advisory Board, is also the Chairperson of VNO NCW Stedendriehoek (a regional entrepreneurial network in the Cleantech Region Stedendriehoek, the Netherlands), the Managing Director of Change in a real estate company, an entrepreneur and esteemed board member of other associations/organisations. Having a lot of experience and knowledge about the business industry, Platteel believes that setting up the Professional Field Panel is good, as there is a need for a very strong link between entrepreneurial and employers’ association and educational institutions to ensure that they are in sync. Another advisory board member, Wim Oonk, is not a stranger to the Wittenborg family. Besides being a senior lecturer for the master’s degree programme, Oonk is also the Information and Data Manager at Philips Domestic Appliances.
His experience in the business industry is vast and he is considered an expert in information management, change management, finance, banking, insurance, IT and operations management. He emphasised that the demand for skills related to quality management, change management, risk management and knowledge management is on the rise and Wittenborg needs to keep abreast with this trend. The two Heads of School are also fully supportive of the panel. Head of School of Business Dr Rauf Abdul said that this panel will be important in serving the purpose of how to connect the industry and how to prepare our graduates to take on those positions in the industry with the changing requirements. Head of School of Hospitality, Esther Bakker-Gitonga affirmed the comment and said that Wittenborg is always working towards the improvement of current courses which are relevant to our students and making them employable.
In setting up the Professional Profile, Wittenborg has developed a system in which it collects information, both formally and informally, from a whole range of contacts within the business and economic community in the region, nationally and abroad, such as alumni tracking, surveys, open discussions with employers, governments and the Chamber of Commerce. Professional Profile development at Wittenborg is led directly by its CEO Maggie Feng, who apart from being a Jury Member of the Apeldoorn Business Awards that visits and investigates over 60 companies and organisations in the region each year, is also involved in many regional and national development platforms, for instance, the organisation Ethnic Business Women Netherlands (EZVN), for which she was runner up for the Ethnic Business Woman of the Year Award in 2017.
by Hanna Abdelwahab