How studying in the Netherlands helped me to undertake in Brazil

When studying abroad, your chances of prospering in the Brazilian market always increase. There are those who return to Brazil with a different and unique diploma, and who get leadership positions in great organizations. And there are also those who end up opening a disruptive business   and do well in entrepreneurship.

When I went to do my postgraduate studies in Europe, I had not yet considered entrepreneurship as a way of applying the acquired knowledge. But when I returned, I realized that it was the best way to put into practice everything I had learned and lived there.

I did my master's in the Netherlands, at a university of applied sciences called Imagineering Academy, on the topic of  collaborative innovation  for organizations. And I realized that most Dutch universities have one characteristic in common: they are concerned with forming leaders, not just good employees, that is, they are constantly questioning the status quo of the professions and turning to critical discussion about the future. .

Thus, after studying in the Netherlands, when I returned to Brazil, I had such differentiated knowledge, so unique to the Brazilian market, that many organizations could benefit from this at the same time. So, instead of investing all this knowledge in one organization, I realized that it could help to transform Brazil more if I were to undertake and could spread this knowledge in more environments.

So, if you are considering undertaking in the future, consider also studying in the Netherlands. There, these points below are part of almost every undergraduate and post there, which makes the Dutch great entrepreneurs globally.

What I learned while studying in the Netherlands

Leadership and criticism

During a class at a Dutch university, and also at meetings in the job market there, the Dutch play what they call the “power game”. What is that? Teachers share knowledge and theories, and students often question why this is so. Teachers need to develop good arguments to affirm theories, which makes the classes very warm and with a lot of dialogue. As a result, teachers are constantly open to revisiting whether current theories still make sense today, depending on students' questions.

The same is true in organizations:  bosses  share the decisions they have made with their employees and expect employees to ask questions and ask questions. If the boss’s strategy doesn’t go through the eyes of the younger ones, then it wasn’t a good strategy, and they set out to build a better one. Quite different from Brazil, don't you think?

These daily exercises are great for entrepreneurs, who have to defend their ideas and companies on a daily basis, and always seek  innovative solutions  that bring strategic differentiation. Thus, studying and interning in the Netherlands can help you a lot to become a more professional and prepared entrepreneur.

Self-management and organization

During my innovation master's degree, in the first two months of classes, teachers shared a variety of theories about organizations and society. I had to separate and know how to organize what was innovative (postmodern) and what was traditional (modern).

Dutch teachers will rarely deliver chewed and organized content to students. They expect students to do this function on their own, and to know how to observe the world around them, and to understand it critically. But for that, we have to develop the capacity for self-organization and self-management.

And for many entrepreneurs, starting a company can be chaos, having to do a little bit of everything, and getting involved in all aspects of the company. So, knowing how to  organize tasks , classify priorities, look at problems as opportunities, and insert yourself in this chaotic context and at the same time generating value for your surroundings, are some skills that are required in entrepreneurship, and that studies in the Netherlands helped me to develop.


Holland has a culture of pioneering spirit. Since the era of sailing around 1500, the Dutch have always invented fashion. It is no wonder that a country with only 17 million inhabitants (less than the city of São Paulo) has one of the largest economies in the world.

For you to understand a little what I am talking about, I will tell you an example: KLM, Dutch airlines, will make the first commercial flight to the stratosphere in 2020. After announcing and selling the tickets, all the primary schools in the Netherlands then decided that astronomy should be a subject to be studied since childhood, and that it would already enter the grid of the following year!

Therefore, the Dutch are always very  attuned to the future , and act quickly to update themselves. And this culture is great for entrepreneurs, who need to invent new things, and to be ahead of the new needs of society and organizations.

Intelig is INSTANCE to deal with different people

Studying in the Netherlands is sure to put you in contact with people of  different nationalities . My master's room had people from 13 different countries: Brazil, Mexico, Germany, Indonesia, Iran, the United States, Belgium, Russia, Czechoslovakia, France, England, Spain and the Netherlands. For an entrepreneurial future, this is a great learning scenario!

The entrepreneur needs to develop a lot of empathy to understand the needs of different people and to act on it. Studying in Brazil, we can do that too, but I believe that  different nationalities  make these differences and similarities of needs more prominent, and the sensitivity of listening to really try to understand the other is touched on. Thus, placing yourself in situations of study, group work, in which intercultural challenges are exposed, helps a lot to develop some fundamental skills for an entrepreneur, such as social intelligence.

Knowledge that makes you a unique and differentiated professional

Studying other references, from other perspectives, would certainly add a lot of value to the student. Those who end up studying only in Brazil may have access to a limited range of references from authors, theories, methodologies, etc. Mainly because not everything innovative and different ends up being translated into Portugues.

So, studying in a more global language, like  English , automatically connects you to many alternative references. When you study in a more international environment - and the Netherlands breathes in its culture the mixture with almost all parts of the world -, you end up seeing new ways of telling and perceiving the world. This forms well-differentiated and unique professionals for the Brazilian market. And a good entrepreneur will use that to your advantage, for sure!

Mind focused on projects  and opportunities

Studying in the Netherlands, I realized that the Dutch find opportunities in everything they do. An example: in my master's class, we had to read 25 books a year. Well, this is humanly impossible, correct? So, how the university got organized: asked each of the 25 students to read 1 book, and to create a summary in the TED style, with about 15 minutes of captivating presentation.

As most of the books were about  innovation  in business administration, they also realized that managers and owners of startups also did not have time to read the 25 books. Thus, they created an event day, where students would present their summaries in TED style and sold tickets to these managers and entrepreneurs.

The project was a success! And the money that students earned from this event can invest in an educational experience decided by the group. So, being able to study in an environment in which reading a book turns out to be a cool super project, is a great place to train the mind of a  future entrepreneur  focused on projects and opportunities.

I had this opportunity to do my master's degree in Holland, and today I am an entrepreneur in Brazil. Surely studying in this environment was a game changer in my life! I hope that after reading my experience you will also consider the country as a destination for your next training.

About the author

Clara Bianchini  is a  former Master of Imagineering student at  Breda University of Applied Science in the Netherlands. She is a co-founder of the innovation consultancy for organizations called  CO-VIVA . Professor of Innovation at ESEG School of Engineering and guest professor at INSEEC Business School in Paris. Columnist of the Consumidor Moderno portal

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