Country of origin: Netherlands
Director, Critical Management Group
What originally attracted me to Lancaster University was the international research of the Management School.
In my search for ‘answers’, I initially joined the MPhil in Critical Management programme as a part-time and overseas student. At the time, I was a Country Chairman for Shell in the Middle East, and through the programme, I came to realise that leadership is not always about ‘answers’ but making possible different practices.
The MPhil included a core taught element and what really stood out for me was the variety and depth of insights shared by the Faculty, especially relating to areas such as psychology, sociology and social cultural anthropology.
It was then suggested that I transfer to a PhD in Management Learning and Leadership. This turned out to be a long but nevertheless incredibly rewarding journey for me. It was difficult combining part-time doctoral research with family and work, especially relocating to three countries during this period.
As a practitioner, I had always been consumed with the notion of mobilising people and their organisations. The focus of my doctoral research subsequently became obtaining an in-depth understanding of critical drivers and outcomes of (dis)engagement as perceived by employees in Australia. The findings and learnings of this research I now apply on a daily basis both as an independent strategy advisor and as an associate faculty member at a number of universities in Australia.
Undoubtedly, my PhD would not have been completed without the patience and wisdom received from my supervisors Dr Caroline Gatrell and Dr Sharon Turnbull. Their ability to start from where I was (not necessarily where they wanted me to be), to converse in my narrative, and to encourage me through positive reinforcements has arguably contributed to my biggest learning on how to engage people.