‘A Gigantic Wave’: European EMBA Programs Embrace Era Of Change

Seven of the Nyenrode EMBA one-week modules take place in the Netherlands, and four take place at Nyenrode’s partner universities abroad

Down in the mid and lower tiers of ranked business schools, the changes to executive education are not going unnoticed. Schools eager to boost their profiles and perhaps move up a few spots in the rankings are boasting of their

Nyenrode Business Universiteit’s EMBA program is one of those that could use a profile boost, and the school seems to be looking to get one amid the upheaval resulting from so many different changing elements in executive education. Ranked 76th in customized exec ed by the Financial Times, down from 72nd in 2016, and 48th in open-enrollment exec ed, up from 50th, the top B-school in the Netherlands is making a big push to rise above a crowded field by touting the “future-focused leadership” of its revamped EMBA.

The newly overhauled program will focus on issues that leaders of the future will face, according to an announcement this month from the school, including digitalization, globalization, and sustainability. That means, literally, a broader horizon: New modules and study destinations in the United States and South America “will provide insight into global business trends and an overarching focus on personal leadership development.” But it also means embracing technological innovations that already are impacting not only B-schools but businesses and societies worldwide.

As Marjan Lubbers, director of the Nyenrode EMBA, says, the school has “profoundly” changed the focus of what and how it teaches.

Marjan Lubbers of Nyenrode


Nyenrode’s EMBA is two-year program consisting of 11 one-week modules that convene every two months. The program includes what the school calls a “purpose-driven” Personal Leadership Development Journey as well as “Doing Business Globally” Modules in China, South Africa, Uruguay, and the U.S. It offers to “boost your competences to manage future organizational and societal developments” and enjoy the advantages of “the most connected business network in the Netherlands,” boasting of more than 25,000 alumni in over 100 countries.

“As digital innovations look likely to change both business models and the labor market, we have profoundly changed the focus of our teaching to deal with state-of-the-art topics including sustainability and globalization,” Lubber says. “This course is targeted at those who champion their personal leadership development and want to bring their businesses into the future.

“Within a few years, an unprecedented number of new technologies will change businesses and societies irrevocably. Innovations such as cryptocurrencies, blockchain, artificial intelligence, robotics, and biotechnology are already knocking at the door, and it is our responsibility to arm our leaders of the future with the management acumen to maximize the potential of each.”


The average age of a Nyenrode EMBA is 34, and the average work experience is a little less than 12 years. Most of the candidates are Dutch, but 23% are international. Males vastly outnumber females, 73% to 27% — not unusual for EMBA programs, though Nyenrode’s ratio is still a bit lopsided. Top functional backgrounds are general management, marketing and sales, and operations; top educational backgrounds are business, economics, and engineering. Tuition is €49,500, or $57,420.

So far, so normal. What, then, does the Nyenrode experience offer that sets it apart from its competitors? “This course will provide invaluable insight into tackling the problems that all organizations are likely to face as they embrace the coming wave of digitalization,” Lubbers says. “We want our exec MBA students to leave with a stronger sense of their strengths, their goals, and a way to realize their ambitions of leading businesses into the future.

“It is hugely important for our students to receive a global education, and to understand how culture impacts the implementation of the newest innovations. Each student will take an active role in their learning, reflecting on their strengths and consciously developing their professional value. This personal leadership development is aided by work placements at international companies, chosen to complement and enhance their growing skillsets.”