“WHAT I’VE LEARNED IS READILY APPLICABLE TO MY CURRENT JOB”
“The knowledge I’ve gained about investing and business analysis is of enormous added value to me.” The speaker is Ruud van Keulen, who is active as a Management Consultant for Accenture’s CFO & Enterprise Value Practice. He recently completed an Executive Master in Finance at TIAS. “I understand financial data faster and can engage in more substantive conversations with clients.”
Ruud’s work as a data analytics specialist mainly concerned finance projects. This triggered an interest in finance. During the same period, he also decided he would like to do an Executive MBA. Once he began exploring the possibilities, however, he discovered a lot of overlap with two Master’s degrees he already had. He therefore opted to pursue a Master in Finance instead. “It’s similar to an Executive MBA, but with a greater emphasis on finance. That fits in very well with my current work.”
ACQUIRING AND APPLYING ACADEMIC KNOWLEDGE
Ruud: “Ultimately, I chose to pursue a Master in Finance for three reasons. The first reason was mostly practical. I wanted to expand my network with more like-minded individuals; people who had been working at corporations or as consultants at my own level for a number of years. The second reason was to deepen my financial expertise. My duties at Accenture had gained me a good working knowledge of finance and how it affects certain systems and processes. For my own gratification, I wanted a deeper academic understanding as well. My third reason was a desire to use the resulting knowledge in the course of my work.”
“My work involves a lot of future-oriented analyses and investment issues. This matches the focus of TIAS’s Executive Master in Finance.”
When Ruud was exploring possible options for a Master in Finance, he discovered that the program at TIAS is fairly unique in its kind. “Most programs in this field focus on finance and control. That means they mainly concentrate on the analysis of figures to explain what has happened in the past. My own work is much more centered on future-oriented analyses and investment issues. This matches the focus of TIAS’s Executive Master in Finance.” The definitive reason for Ruud to finally opt for TIAS was the fact that several of the professors teaching the TIAS Master are also associated with Tilburg University’s internationally renowned Tilburg School of Economics and Management.
Name Ruud van Keulen
Position Management Consultant for Accenture’s CFO & Enterprise Value Practice. Accenture is an international business services company in the field of management, technology, and outsourcing.
In his role as a Management Consultant, Ruud advises CFOs and management teams on enterprise performance management and digitization. For instance, he may help them to define a vision, goal and strategy for the optimal structuring and implementation of processes such as financial planning & analysis.
Study program Executive Master in Finance “If there’s one thing this Master has clarified, it’s how much work there remains to be done regarding ESG reporting, in a positive sense.”
FROM ACADEMIC KNOWLEDGE TO PRACTICE
Ruud felt that the links between academic knowledge and practical application were much stronger at TIAS’s Master in Finance than in his previous experience of other Masters. “I really appreciated that. Every course consists of two or three days of lessons, with half of the time spent on academic content and the other half with insights on ways to apply that knowledge in practice. The guest speakers played an important role in this as well. They would explain how certain accounting rules applied to acquisitions based on examples from practice, for instance. Even for subjects that were less relevant to me personally, those guest lectures offered a nice glimpse into the ways in which academic knowledge may be applied in practice.
Challenging practical assignments “The practical group assignments we were expected to work on after lectures were quite challenging. They weren’t just practice-oriented, they also encouraged a critical approach and taught you to review and apply what you’d just learned. You really had to put in the effort, particularly for the modules’ final assignments. This approach requires you to take a critical look at the material, rather than simply regurgitating knowledge during exams. You have to actually apply that knowledge. For example, first you were taught the theory of business valuation, and then your final assignment would be to spend two weeks creating a valuation for an international company. That definitely helped make the knowledge stick. Thanks to this learning approach, I gained a lot of practical skills.”
Learning with and from each other through interaction and discussion “During the Master in Finance I got to work with a great many people from all kinds of organizations outside the consulting world. There is a lot of interaction and discussion in the program. That was incredibly enriching. Consulting does create its own perspective. We tend to approach problems differently than a corporation or government organization would.”
“Sometimes, studying the figures allows me to discern issues the company’s own senior management hasn’t detected yet.”
INTEGRATING STRATEGIC AND FINANCIAL ANALYSES
Ruud feels that the various modules and their associated practical assignments are very successful in helping students to develop more extensive financial expertise and the skills to make well-considered financial decisions. “In my role as a consultant, they helped me understand annual reports, financial reports, investment reports and similar documents much faster and more fully. That’s an important advantage in my work. It’s not that I wasn’t capable before, but the Master has provided me with tools to extract the most important points, gain an accurate general impression and use that as a base for further analysis.”
Valuable skills in daily practice
Ruud: “I have become faster and better at determining a company’s strategic market position based on public data. Insights of that kind tend to promote productive conversations. These can factor into a client’s decision to work with us.”
“We also received practical tips on where to find companies’ publicly available financial data, what to watch out for and how to weigh that information. Sometimes, studying the figures allows me to discern issues the company’s own senior management hasn’t detected yet. That’s a great way to make a good impression. Furthermore, it means I can serve as a sounding board for my clients.”
“I also work on propositions regarding the provision of certain services to clients. Again, I have noticed a difference between the time before I completed my Master and my capabilities since then. It is now easier for me to determine whether something will be profitable or not. My investment analysis of service propositions has improved.”
ASSESSING THE IMPACT OF CHALLENGES
In his role as a Management Consultant, Ruud also needs to be aware of any legal and governance risks his clients face. “The course on Financial Reporting & Analysis has enabled me to identify such challenges and determine their impact on financial management.”
The next big challenge: ESG reporting Finally, Ruud notes that all companies’ financial management cannot escape dealing with sustainability issues in the upcoming years. “ESG stands for Environmental, Social and Governance, the three sustainability aspects on which financial managers are required to provide accurate reports. This also creates opportunities for Accenture to advise clients on such matters, making them relevant to my own interests.”
“What we’re very concerned with right now is not just the specific ESG reporting requirements, but also how to make use of them in order to improve as a business. What data will you need? What KPIs come into play if you want to reduce your company’s carbon footprint, for example? If there’s one thing this Master has clarified, it’s how much work there remains to be done in this area, in a positive sense. I think TIAS’s approach to this topic is the correct one.”
“Not much attention is being paid to the ‘Social’ aspect so far, even though the social implications are increasingly visible.”
Master thesis: Sustainable Finance
Ruud picked Sustainable Finance as the subject of his master thesis. This is a hot topic at his own company as well. “As part of my research, I investigated the composition of investment portfolios based on human resource management; how companies treat their employees.”
“Sustainable finance tends to focus more on factors such as emissions and carbon footprints. Not much attention is being paid to the ‘Social’ aspect so far, even though the social implications are increasingly visible. For my graduation project, I designed a model to help investors decide whether or not to include a company in their portfolio, based on risk analysis of the company’s human resource management.”
Looking back on his experiences at TIAS, Ruud concludes that he managed to achieve the goals he had in mind. “I have gained a lot of theoretical knowledge and expanded my network with like-minded individuals who are active in very different areas. Furthermore, my new knowledge and skills are readily applicable to my current job.”
Ruud’s advice to others considering this program
“Put in the effort; make sure to consciously set aside plenty of time. If you adopt that mindset, this Master can be of significant added value to your career.
Ambition to grow to a top position in finance?
The part-time Executive Master in Finance (MIF) from TIAS combines the latest scientific insights in the field of finance, strategy and economics with in-depth knowledge of the financial sector. Always with a direct link to your practice.
In 14 months you will develop into a top-level financial, who takes responsibility for his or her actions and for the environment. Study at TIAS and use your new knowledge and skills to make a difference in business and society.
Download the brochure here and discover whether the Executive Master in Finance (MIF) is right for you.
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