In “RSM outlook” – Magazine Rotterdam School of Management.
EMBA student Niels Braamse works in his family’s business, Kyotolease, supplying green vehicles (run on electricity or biofuels) to business clients. He was drawn to RSM when he saw how well MBAs are perceived in the Netherlands. ‘I learned a lot about business, and met many interesting people from around the world. It helped me find what I wanted to do in life,’ he says. ‘My Masters (Global Business and Stakeholder Management) also taught me about green business and corporate social responsibility.’
Kyotolease began in 2002, by testing a SEAT converted to run on vegetable oil. ‘My father wanted employees at his IT company to drive green cars,’ Niels explains. ‘This wasn’t possible through any existing lease company, so he started one.’ The company is funded by Triodos bank, which makes it unique in the leasing world as it is the only one supported by ethical funding. Niels joined when just 16. ‘The first job I did was paper shredding! Now I’m in sales and marketing, among other things.’
Having already worked at Kyotolease, Niels was keen to test the theory he learnt at RSM. ‘The scientific approach is useful for understanding the world and finding solutions to problems, but practical thinking is also good,’ he says. Balancing work and study was not always easy. At the office, classmates would call about study deadlines; and when with them Niels had urgent jobs for Kyotolease. He admits it was sometimes difficult to keep the two worlds separate, and it required creative planning. ‘For me it was important to provide a highquality service to customers, but also to enjoy student life. I think I managed it well!’ he says.
As well as being financed by Triodos, the bank is also a customer. Others include Utrecht-based Greencab (the Netherlands’ first electric taxi service), and the city of Nijmegen, which runs a CNG (compressed natural gas) fleet. ‘It’s nice to have customers from the ‘green’ world,’ Niels says, ‘but we also have some from ‘normal’ business areas. Most are idealists who want zero emissions.’ Niels wants Kyotolease to be involved in more social projects (the company already runs an internet café in Ghana and offers microcredit financing there). ‘Of course, these have to fit our vision. We’re striving for a healthy, profitable, green company that adds something to the world, rather than a product with the biggest potential to maximise profits. That gives me job satisfaction.’