Getting accepted by business leaders as a strategic partner whilst also being an IT person is not as easy as it might seem. Caroline van Rompuy knows this better than anyone: this is part of the reason she started the Master in IT Governance and Assurance in 2015, from which she is due to graduate in 2017. “I was working as the European CIO for an American multinational and at the start of this year I transferred to Agfa-Gevaert to become the group CIO. Without a doubt, this master has contributed to the decision of taking this step.”
The reasons for her choosing this masters degree are clear: “I chose this route because it contains the corporate governance module (at Maastricht). It is important for my job in a multinational and for auditing work. What’s more, it provides great insight into company leadership issues and how to successfully integrate IT governance as a manager. I found out from several fellow students on the two other IT courses that the DEMO module is also very interesting because it takes you to a completely different way of thinking. I would love to take this course in the future.”
“The course met my expectations by 200%. Don’t hesitate, just go for it!"
In particular, the diversity and variety within the program were surprisingly educational. “Getting to know the other participants and co-operating with them is just as important as the course content itself, in my opinion. The other students come from a huge range of different companies: from big multinationals to small Belgian SMEs and public enterprises. They come from all kinds of different sectors too: for example, chemical and automotive production, the service sector, construction and insurance to name but a few. You get acquainted with the specific IT issues of all of these different companies, and you also recognize the shared IT issues.”
"It provides great insight into company leadership issues and how to successfully integrate IT governance as a manager.”
Experiencing this diversity ensures everyone ends up getting a far broader view. Also Caroline learned to appreciate the multicultural nature of the group: “you learn from each other’s behavior and culture. It offers a huge network, one that you can use in your daily professional life. Moreover, it is not just the network of fellow students that is important, but also the immense value of the network of professors and experts in the various fields to which you have access.”
Women in IT
The small number of women in IT doesn’t necessarily frustrate her. “I let my enthusiasm for my job guide me, rather than the fact of ‘being a woman’: I am eager to learn and I like to see results. If this is the case, you’re perfect in the IT world: you can innovate and deliver projects to your business.” However, she does see how working with women can change things: “it is remarkable how women change the dynamics of a predominantly male team, and this offers new perspectives.”
A number of maxims still stand out for Caroline from each subject area: “Within the field of security it is most certainly: never waste a good incident. In the field of business cases: intangibles don’t exist, every intangible has its price. And within the discipline of IT governance: it is through a combination of good structures, processes and relational mechanisms that you extract most value for the company out of your IT.”
"Getting to know the other participants and co-operating with them is just as important as the content itself, in my opinion."
Return on investment
Caroline notices that she still uses everything she has picked up during the program on a daily basis: “The content is very rich. I put all the subjects we have been taught into practice. How can we tighten up cyber security? How do I set up a risk taxonomy? How do I develop a good business case for the company? How do I make the intangibles tangible in order to use the IT budget as efficiently as possible? How do I set up good portfolio management? How do I measure whether the IT structure works? How do I communicate with important stakeholders like business leaders, executive committees and the board of directors? How do I set up good IT operation processes? How do I audit important IT processes?”
"Don’t hesitate: if you want to invest in yourself, if you want to build on your career or want to enhance your current position.”
The course provides us with a huge amount of reference material and secondary sources that will come in useful afterwards. Furthermore, working with the universities of Tilburg and Maastricht offers a broader view.”
Hence her advice for future students: “The course met my expectations by 200%, it is fair to say it exceeded my expectations”. “Don’t hesitate about taking this course: if you want to invest in yourself, if you want to build on your career or want to enhance your current position, just go for it. The masters course will almost immediately pay off for you and for your company.”