The Art of Re-Inventing your Business in a Pandemic - Lessons from the Trenches
How many CEOs do you know would swallow their pride and start selling cookies door-to-door when their thriving business takes a temporary hit due to COVID-19? This is exactly what Israeli entrepreneur Tal Zilberberg did the past year, and in the process learned many lessons which he recently shared with students from Wittenborg's Munich partner, New European College, as part of a Project Week guest lecture.
The lecture focused on surviving lockdown while working remotely from home – which could be a real challenge if you are in the fitness industry like Zilberg. He is the founder of many entrepreneurial adventures – which include being the owner and CEO of LTD Sport and Fitness Centre as well as ITSKS Karate. During lockdown his various businesses took a dive – especially the karate school. Almost overnight his number of students went from 300 to zero.
He described how he managed to revive the business by online coaching. He now has about 30 students for each online session he teaches. His journey from near bankruptcy to getting back on track made a strong impression on Wittenborg students! “To work remotely and by oneself tests our real abilities, skills & mental strength. It is, in fact, an opportunity for entrepreneurs and business leaders to test their business and leadership skills while telecommuting (working remotely)," Zilderberg said.
How COVID-19 Crisis Opens Up New Frontiers for Businesses - An Insight by Wittenborg Senior Lecturer Dr Alexander Bauer
Wittenborg Senior Lecturer Speaks at Finnish 'Turku Sales Week' event
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to breed uncertainty over consumer sentiment and behaviour, businesses need to find new ways to ensure their own survival. This was the essence of the keynote speech by Wittenborg Senior Lecturer Dr Alexander Bauer at the Finnish Turku Sales Week. The 4-day online event, held on 16-19 November 2020, was organised by Turku Sales Academy, part of the operations of Turku University of Applied Sciences, Finland. During the event, two sales competitions were organised and keynote speakers who are sales experts were invited to take the floor and share the latest trends in sales.
An expert in international sales and marketing
Dr Bauer, who lectures for Wittenborg at its Apeldoorn, Munich and Vienna campuses, is not only a business developer but also a public speaking expert. He has many years of experience in international sales and marketing, which took him to almost all corners of the globe, from Great Britain to Malaysia, and from the Middle East to Central America. With such a diverse international experience and profile in sales, this topic got him the spot as one of the keynote speakers at the Turku Sales Week event.
Another Proud Achievement for Wittenborg
Wittenborg prides itself on another of its MBA students' theses being published this year. (Click here for the previous thesis publication). The thesis, entitled 'Financing Alignment and Financing Performance of Chinese Companies Within Buyer-Supplier Relationships: The Moderate Effect of Supply Chain Finance Challenges', was written by Chinese student Aoer Zhang and supervised by Wittenborg lecturer Dr Muhammad Ashfaq.
The paper, which was published in the International Journal of Supply Chain, London, UK, evaluates the literature on financing alignment and performance of Chinese companies within buyer-supplier relationships and the moderate effect of supply chain finance challenges. It also ventures into the application of blockchain technology in supply chain finance adoptions, especially in emerging countries like China.
Importance of research in knowledge economy
Zhang's academic supervisor, Dr Muhammad Ashfaq, is not new to the world of publication. Having a background in management and finance spanning over 10 years, Ashfaq has written various research articles and contributed several chapters in different books on the topic of Finance, Ethics and Islamic banking. He has also spoken at various national and international conferences in more than 25 countries.
Wittenborg Students and Staff Divided on COVID-19 Vaccine
As countries around the world start rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine, an anonymous survey among Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences' international students and staff members revealed deep divisions on whether they will take the vaccine when it becomes available to them. Closer questioning showed that many of those doubts stem from being worried about potential "side effects".
Small Majority in Favour of Vaccine
Of the more than 110 students and staff who took the survey so far, the majority (42%) intend to take the vaccine when it becomes available; albeit a small majority, because 35% say they will not take it. A further 23% is undecided. Many of the participants indicated that they need more information about the safety of the vaccine and how it works.
The participants are from 40 different countries and almost equally divided in terms of gender. One wrote: "I would take the vaccine only for the sake of society – so that vulnerable people won't be affected by me – or to avoid travel restrictions, but definitely not just for my own safety."
Another wrote: "It depends on the information available at the time: Are there any side-effects? How long would it protect me for? Do we still need to reach herd immunity?" Many indicated that they would not rush to take it, but wait to see more results.
Wishing you all a happy and peaceful Christmas festive season!
However brightly 2020 started, it quickly changed in February, and we have all been through what is one of the darkest years, for many of us, in living memory. Now, we are reaching the end of 2020, and the festive season of Christmas and the New Year celebrations. The dark cloud is not yet lifted; however, there is clearly light at the end of the tunnel, with a global vaccination effort already started and vaccines to be rolled out across Europe, including the Netherlands very soon.
Our message of goodwill to all our students, alumni, staff, friends and relations is to stay safe, look out for one another, and to keep hope. The new year will surely blossom soon.
Wishing you all a happy and peaceful Christmas festive season!
by James Wittenborg
©Wittenborg University Press
Wittenborg Volunteers Team up with JCI Apeldoorn to Surprise Elderly with Goody Bags
Student volunteers from Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences helped to bring some holiday cheer to the elderly in Apeldoorn – many of whom find themselves homebound and often alone over the festive season – even more so this year with new COVID-19-restrictions announced a week ago by the Dutch government.
This is the second year Wittenborg has joined forces with the organisers of the initiative, Junior Chamber International's (JCI) Apeldoorn chapter, to spread goodwill. Last year, a Christmas lunch was organised at Wittenborg's Spoorstraat location with students, JCI members and many elderly from Apeldoorn sat together for a meal.
Due to the restrictions, the outreach effort had to be slimmed down this year, but luckily the enthusiasm did not. JCI is a network organisation for people up to 40 years old in Apeldoorn who have a social or economic bond with the region and who want to work on their personal development. It currently has 25 members.
Armed with holiday music, goody bags and some eatables, students divided in groups with JCI members visiting about 24 homes over the weekend. One student, Sophia Norenko, even brought along a ukulele to play traditional Christmas tunes.
According to Wittenborg's Communications and Events Coordinator Nadia Zaman, who also took part in the initiative, they were welcomed with a lot of gratitude and happiness at each door they knocked on. "It was also very meaningful to all of us participating to see how happy they were to have us there," Zaman said.
by Anesca Smith
©Wittenborg University Press
Wittenborg Joins EFMD Global Network of Business Schools and Corporations
Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences is proud to announce its membership of the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD). EFMD is a network of business schools and corporations dedicated to enhancing excellence in management education and development globally. Through its membership, Wittenborg joins around 950 institutional members from over 90 different countries in the EFMD global network.
EFMD is an international, not-for-profit association based in Brussels, Belgium, and is Europe's largest network association in the field of management development. It runs networks and activities targeted towards undergraduate, master's and doctoral education, deans, external relations, career services, research, entrepreneurship, responsible leadership, management education in Africa and the Middle East, Asia and the Americas, plus advisory seminars covering key issues for schools. EFMD also provides access to publications, international projects, different accreditation, assessment and certification systems, case writing & doctoral research awards.
On its new membership, Wittenborg's executive commented, 'As an international business school, Wittenborg is already an active member of organisations that promote collaboration and also provide accreditation services, such as AACSB; however, with this additional exciting membership Wittenborg looks forward to expanding its quality assurance systems even further. EFMD is a globally recognised quality assurance brand with a firm European origin, and we look forward to working within our new membership to strengthen our own international brand.'
Survey Reveals Students Now Believe Health Should Be Top Developmental Goal
In a year dominated by the pandemic, it comes as no surprise that students at Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences now believe health and wellbeing should be one of the world's top sustainable development goals. Almost 120 undergraduates were surveyed on the topic as part of Wittenborg's final Project Week of the calendar year.
"An unhealthy person cannot focus on learning"
Of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Quality Education was ranked as the number one priority for students, followed by Good Health and Poverty Reduction. One student established a clear link between health and education, noting: "An unhealthy person cannot focus on learning new things."
Another writes: "Global health and (good) living standards are important to develop a society. Once it has that, the financial issues of the country will decrease because they will not have to spend a lot of money on medicine and vaccines. Moreover, the country will also have a healthy and strong labour force, which is important for development."
"Education allows for social mobility"
Many students see education as the way out for those imprisoned by poverty and class, with one writing: "Education allows for social mobility. It means that people can change their life situation by making an effort in school, college and university."
For the final Project Week, students were asked to fast-forward 10 years, bringing them to 2030 and the end of the Agenda for the 17 SDGs. They now have to design a futuristic Wittenborg campus that incorporates at least 5 of the 17 UN SDGs, and one that also fits within the concepts contained in Wittenborg's mission statement and values as well as the vision of Apeldoorn municipality for 2040 (for students in Apeldoorn).
Nine Wittenborg Students to be Selected for Effective Crisis Management Project
Nine students at Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences stand the chance of becoming Junior Fellows of the 20/20 Vision Program and Network – an international and transdisciplinary project stretching from 2020 - 2025 where participants collect and review lessons learned on strengthening the resilience of critical infrastructure before, during and after a crisis – such as COVID-19. The project is the brainchild of founder Prof. Eelco Dykstra, and Wittenborg senior lecturer Bert Meeuwsen is a senior fellow.
The project will also be the subject of a Project Week assignment for undergraduates at Wittenborg early next year, Meeuwsen said. But first the nine junior fellows from Wittenborg will be selected. All students taking part in the Project Week received a questionnaire last week, which will also serve as their application for participating in the project.
Their answers will be assessed by Dykstra and Meeuwsen. Once the fellows have been selected, these students will also play a pivotal role during the Wittenborg Project Week. "The nine students will also get the opportunity to have their graduation assignments related to one of the so-called 'Nine Universal Roadblocks' (NUR)," Meeuwsen said.
"As Junior Fellows of the 20/20 Vision Program, they will cooperate with other Fellows within an international discussion group per NUR too. This is an interesting way of gaining additional experience and creating an international network. These nine students will be supervised by three Wittenborg academic supervisors, including myself. All students who find this an interesting proposal can apply for this opportunity."
Wittenborg's Karen Penninga Appointed to National Commission Monitoring Quality of Education for International Students
Congratulations are in order for Wittenborg's Director of Corporate Governance, Karen Penninga, who has been appointed to the National Commission for the Code of Conduct for International Students in Dutch Higher Education. The announcement was made in the Commision's latest newsletter. As commissioner, Penninga will represent NRTO - the Dutch Council for Private Universities and Institutions for Education and Training.
The Commission meets on a regular basis to monitor the compliance of institutions of higher education which have signed the Code of Conduct, thereby guaranteeing the quality of the education they offer to international students.
Penninga is no stranger to an international, culturally-diverse environment, having worked for about 16 years for a private institution with students from more than 100 different countries. Her colleagues at Wittenborg are just as diverse, constituting approximately 30 different nationalities.
She spoke about how she sees her new role, stressing a compassionate approach to recognising the needs of international students and Dutch education's response to it.
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