2019 Best Online MBAs: Jaap Veneman, North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)

Jaap Veneman

University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School

“ENTP. Dutch. Love traveling with family and cooking for friends. Lived in the Netherlands, USA, and Ireland.”

Age: 38

Hometown: Dublin, Ireland

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve traveled to 42 countries – 5 during MBA immersion trips (Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, India, and Argentina).

Undergraduate School and Degree: Tilburg University, Netherlands. International Business and Finance.

Where are you currently working? I’ve worked the last 13 years at Bentley Systems in Netherlands, USA, and Ireland respectively. Currently Vice President Global Technology Resource Allocation.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? It was introducing simple tools into Bentley Systems annual planning process a few years ago; three years later, an SVP said he was not sure the first year, but has now enthusiastically embraced it as part of his internal planning cycle for his business unit. Sometimes, change takes a while. In my 13 years at Bentley Systems, the company and I have both developed tremendously.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? I lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and was looking for a top 20 MBA program, be it online or in the classroom. I could have walked to the Wharton School from my home, but the UNC program beat them on ROI and flexibility hands-down. In 2016, Indiana was the only other top business school with an online option, but UNC’s delivery format was much better. I’m pleased to see more choices from top schools in 2019 in online options.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? Flexibility – being able to take classes while vacationing in Tuscany or traveling to Sweden to work on an acquisition. I watched most of the recorded lectures during my two-hour daily commute, turning an unproductive part of my day productive. You can also play recorded videos at 1.5x or 2x speed, something you cannot do in a classroom setting.

Meeting fellow students in real life at one of the quarterly summits – for example in New York, Chapel Hill, Mumbai, Taipei, and Buenos Aires – was an excellent opportunity to have a drink and socialize with people you had intensively worked with agonizing over group projects and simulations.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? It’s even more effective than you think. As I said, it adapts to your schedule for the recorded portion of it; you have a wide choice of slots to choose from for your live lectures and can always change it if something comes up at work. For me personally, I took a lot of the late weeknights slots where I could take a 10 p.m. EST class till 11:30 p.m. (full of West Coast students!) so I could have dinner with my family and see my kids go to bed before class, or a Sunday morning class at 8 a.m. before the family wakes up. There is zero commuting time getting to and from an online classroom.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? I believe the best online MBA programs such as UNC, offer a good balance between live and recorded online delivery and getting together physically a few times per year. They also offer cross-program enrollments such as the seven different Weekend Executive electives I took in Chapel Hill. UNC got this mix right. I haven’t seen the same from all the other online MBA programs.

If you had to do it all over again, would you? Why? Absolutely. The experience overdelivers without a doubt – there is no surrogate for spending a couple of years with such a talented group of inspiring and ambitious students and professors – it’s very contagious to be around so much talent!

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? First, make a strategic impact for my employer – through smarter, faster, more deliberate data-driven analysis and execution, whether that is in how acquisitions are done or planning or resource allocation. The technology sector is undergoing major transitions with cloud, machine learning, AI and innovative subscription models – there are so many opportunities to increase value. Second, develop the next generation of leaders – we hire MBAs grads from top schools continuously with Bentley’s Leadership Development Program. I had various leaders make a tremendous impact upon me the last decade and aspire to replicate this moving forward with a younger generation.



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