Opening minds to impact the world

TEXT: EVA MENGER | PHOTOS © ANTWERP MANAGEMENT SCHOOL

Antwerp Management School is celebrating 60 years of international success. Located in the diamond capital of the world, it seems only right for them to celebrate this diamond anniversary. And as if that is not enough reason for a celebration, the institution has also just moved to a brand new campus, allowing them to continue to grow and provide high quality, practical business education and management development for graduates, professionals and corporations for another 60 years.

Antwerp Management School (AMS) was founded in 1959, after a group of professors came back to Belgium after teaching at various American business schools. The founding professors used their experiences to set up a business school that offered the first executive business master’s degrees in Belgium. Initially part of the University of Antwerp, AMS became an independent organisation in 2008.

“We’re still closely tied to the University of Antwerp,” dean Steven De Haes tells us. “But our independence allows us to position ourselves as a more agile and market-driven institution. Since learning from real-life business case studies is one of the cornerstones of our educational system, we want to be as embedded within society as possible. We teach our students to put great emphasis on evaluating the human-centred design of an organisation and to have a holistic approach.”

Embracing their location

What makes Antwerp Management School unique is the way in which they embrace their location. Antwerp is a harbour city at heart, with global supply chains and logistics as a strong economic driver. Does that not spark your interest? Do not dismiss Antwerp just yet: the versatile city is equally appealing to engineers, entrepreneurs and creatives alike. With a vast creative sector powered by the number one diamond industry, Antwerp has become an important breeding ground for international fashion brands to flourish in. Still not convinced? Then know that the city is also internationally recognised for expertise in the healthcare sector. “The mixture of these industries is unique to Antwerp and absolutely incomparable,” says De Haes. “Our entire portfolio – be it development programmes for companies, graduate education, applied research projects, or development services – always radiates our unique identity.”

AMS also uses its local heritage as leverage for global reach. “Whether it’s our student body, faculty expertise or educational approach; performing and delivering as a truly international organisation is a real ambition of ours,” De Haes explains. “The school’s global value is clearly visible when looking at student diversity: programme after programme, they welcome students from over 50 different nationalities. However, having a global perspective also comes with a heavy responsibility to obtain a critical approach to sustainability. Taking a clear and convincing stance in our role as educator of the next generations of society equals constantly aiming to create a sustainable awareness and leadership attitude. Not just in terms of what and how we teach, but also beyond that: our new campus is designed and executed based on the principles of a circular economy. Hence, AMS thus sets the example for sustainable business transformation.”

An open mind

The school’s tagline ‘Opening minds to impact the world’, refers to everything from educating and developing their students and professional executives to creatively deal with the world’s paradoxes and coaching them in creating self-aware, critical minds. This approach will allow them to comfortably collaborate with international organisations in the future. Through a range of categorised programmes, AMS offers tailored education for postgraduates, professionals and organisations.

In the first category, the school offers specialised Master programmes for graduates wishing to further develop their expertise. Here, you will find, amongst others, engineering graduates looking for a way to apply their knowledge to society, or law students wanting to manifest themselves in a specific industry. These full-time courses welcome around 250 students each year.

The second category is what the school calls executive education, comprising specialised programmes for professionals with a minimum of five years of work experience in a relevant field. It is a two-year, part-time trajectory, very much tailored to experienced professionals looking for an extra Master’s degree. Whether it is to deepen or broaden their current scope, it is ultimately aimed at preparing them for a next career move. For professionals with senior or expert roles, Antwerp Management School also offers an executive MBA and PhD. Those looking for in-depth information on a certain subject rather than a full degree, can join the AMS one-off, open-to-all master classes encompassing a wealth of relevant subjects.”

Lastly, AMS also collaborates with private companies and public institutions or social profit initiatives for co-designed and tailored development tracks. “Companies often go into training with us ahead of a large business transformation. We help management teams create bespoke strategies for implementing change,” De Haes explains. “Since we have our own Research and Valorisation unit, we perform as thought leaders in all our key domains of expertise.”

International praise

With 2,4000 alumni coming from 80 different countries, the school is attracting students from all over the world. A safe choice, it seems, since AMS is internationally accredited and has appeared in various international rankings. Times Higher Education chose the Master in Global Management as the 16th best International Management programme, and the annual Financial Times ranking put the Master in Management in 45th place worldwide.

For the next 60 years, the school plans to stay true to its founding fathers’ philosophy of opening their students’ minds to impact the world. Yet, the transformation that is embedded within their DNA requires them to continuously evolve. “Our new campus is the perfect example of how we incorporate change,” De Haes comments. “It’s very much an illustration of how we see our future: continuously reflecting and questioning ourselves from the outside-in. Seeing functionality as a key player between society and education, it is our ultimate dream to continue to contribute to the development of long-lasting eco-systems and help build and shape the sustainable business leaders of tomorrow.

The school’s 60th ‘diamond’ anniversary and opening of the new campus will be celebrated with a big celebration and homecoming in August: with over 2,000 alumni, Antwerp Management School will celebrate its rich, powerful legacy and its ever-promising future. De Haes: “It’s the perfect way to reflect on what we’ve managed to build over all these years, and equally, what we will do to continue down that path in next 60 years.”

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