Executive Education increases the innovative power of organisations

News - 06 June 2023

The pressure is mounting within large organisations. How do you pave an economically and socially responsible path through global transitions and radical technologies? “With Executive Education”, says Zwanet van Lubek, head of Corporate Innovation at TU Delft, “our knowledge increases the innovative power of your organisation. It’s your flywheel for future stability.”

We are facing complex transitions: climate change, circular economy, energy transition, urbanisation, mobility and affordable healthcare. The development of radically innovative technology such as AI, Quantum Computing and Robotics races right through this and offers both opportunities and challenges. Van Lubek: "Executive Education has been developed to gain knowledge in order to come up with useful solutions that advance both your organisation and society.”

What does Executive Education entail?

“TU Delft develops tailor-made programmes geared to issues and the organisation's ecosystem. These can be short-term programmes ranging from a few masterclasses to courses of 6 months or longer. We often deliver our programme in-house, but it is also possible on our inspiring Campus.

Can you name an example?

For the entire Amsterdam office of Bain & Company, TU Delft developed an in-depth and unique Sustainability masterclass on five themes related to energy and climate. Bain's consultants advise the world's leading companies on radically new business strategies and models, which are necessary due to new EU rules aimed at sustainability and the increasing focus on ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) factors. Our expertise helped Bain understand solutions and will enormously increase the sustainable impact of companies going forward.”

Why does TU Delft see Executive Education as its task?

“Our highest goal as a university is to contribute to a better society. We all face these major societal challenges, but they are on the plate of large organisations. Through Executive Education, we help them achieve solutions, which in turn helps society.”

So what exactly are organisations struggling with?

“The ecosystem of organisations previously consisted mainly of the business and a supply chain. That has now expanded enormously. Global transitions and technology now play much bigger roles. Moreover, this now applies to many more sectors. Previously, only companies with an R&D department had to deal with technology. Now this also applies to banks, energy companies, consultancy firms, knowledge institutions and governments.

I see that the pressure is mounting within our business network. As a large organisation, how do you ensure that you have the appropriate knowledge of trends, risks and consequences at the decision-making level so that you can translate these into a long-term vision and strong decisions? How do you choose a sustainable path? Visiting a business school is no longer enough.”

Executive Education is immediately applicable and works like a flywheel for innovative strength and future-proofing.

What exactly makes TU Delft so suitable for helping organisations?

“TU Delft has knowledge of all relevant disciplines. For example, we conduct leading research into new energy sources and sustainable use of materials, but also into the role of technologies such as Quantum Computing and AI in ethically responsible sustainability solutions. We can also tackle a challenge from different disciplines. The knowledge of our professors helps your organisation increase its innovative power in order to cope with societal challenges.”

Broad participation throughout an organisation is crucial. Why?

“By investing in your entire team, you lift the knowledge of your organisation to the next level in one go. But more importantly, these people, with knowledge of your mission, the preconditions and the challenges of your organisation, immediately start discussing it. They translate knowledge directly into challenges and opportunities, which give rise to ongoing, high-level conversations. With Executive Education, you therefore bring broad-based innovative power into your organisation.

You will have the greatest impact if you offer our Executive Education to the department or management team (MT) directly below the top of your organisation. These people have insight into the workplace issues and advise the top level about what the organisation needs. If you unleash our knowledge on this group, you give your organisation a flywheel for technological innovation and future-proofing.”

Is technology the solution to everything?

“There is not a ready-made solution for every problem. Daily reality is too complex for that. The great value of TU Delft and our Executive Education is that we not only transfer information about transitions and technology, but we also strengthen innovative thinking. After all, technology only offers solutions if it is used properly. People must always be central. First of all, this means that people must remain in control of technology. You also have to design in such a way that technology contributes to the well-being of all people. This requires technology that takes ethics into account. Each organisation also has its own preconditions. Executive Education absorbs all this and develops it together with you into solutions that make an impact in practice.”

Collaboration is the key to usable technological solutions that address the issues of organisations and help society further.

So collaboration is key. How does that work in practice?

“TU Delft offers knowledge about and interpretation of transitions and technologies. In this way, we help your organisation identify opportunities and risks. Then we work on a translation together: which technology offers opportunities for which issues? What other preconditions or rules must the technology meet? These insights arise from the interaction between the participants and our professors, across disciplines. Exchange of this knowledge therefore creates pathways leading to solutions.

Collaborating on-site reinforces this. For example, one of Europe's leading tech incubators, YES!, is located on the inspiring Campus. There are also start-up and scale-up communities in the fields of Robotics and AI, Quantum and Biotechnology. They provide inspiration for adaptation and innovation.”

You argue that Executive Education improves results and helps retain talent. Have you observed this?

"Sure. The knowledge that people gain is directly applicable within the organisation. Their decision-making and advisory skills improve. Mutual discussion ensures a greater understanding of each other's issues. They will exchange knowledge more often and cooperate better. Teams achieve more.
On an individual level, many professionals become strongly inspired and more motivated to dedicate themselves to 'the cause' over a longer period. Something that is vital in this tight labour market.”

Does TU Delft mainly focus on companies?

"No definitely not. All large organisations have to deal with their core task and societal challenges. Every large organisation must therefore navigate its way through the transitions on the one hand and the opportunities, risks and possible solutions of technology on the other.

With our tailor-made programmes, Executive Education slots in perfectly with the unique needs and issues of your organisation. Whether you are a consultancy that wants to better advise its multinationals on energy and climate, a construction group that wants to build in a climate-proof way or a ministerial department that wants to develop policy on AI and digitisation.
The government is especially relevant because it sets the laws and regulations. If this is not done in time, society will run additional risks and you will unintentionally slow down the development of solutions. Take old permit rules for wind turbines, for example. In the past, outdated models were installed because the permit process was defined so narrowly that newer, more energy-efficient and economically profitable turbines did not fit.”

Finally, what drives you to invest so much energy into Executive Education?

“The issues we face are too big to tackle as individual companies or knowledge institutions. I strongly believe in intensive collaboration. What makes me personally happy is that Executive Education generates a win for everyone. Participants receive applicable knowledge and a huge boost in their motivation. Organisations use it to create innovative power. Professors gain valuable insights from practical situations. TU Delft contributes to solutions that make a difference. What more do you want?"