Nyenrode Business University

Our Last Day in the Netherlands

Today was a bittersweet day that had some of us excited to return home and sad to be leaving this fantastic country. It started with a lecture on investor relations from Kris Douma. He was very entertaining and easily kept everyone engaged. We discussed crises in the business world and how investors and managers deal with them. One of the main take-aways I learned from the session was cultural difference in the mindset of the Dutch and Americans. When making decisions, the Dutch tend to take more nonfinancial risks into consideration than Americans. The Dutch have a saying: “Just because something is legal, doesn’t mean it is right.” I have enjoyed learning about the many cultural differences on this trip.

After our morning lecture, we had lunch with the accounting students from the Nyenrode Business University. Their teacher this year was Ferdy, who we heard from on Wednesday. It was interesting to hear about their school and work life. They go to school one day a week and work full time the other four days. Their program is seven years long and started when they were 18. Our table talked about language barriers and school differences.

The last half of our day, we had presentations. We were all split into buddies near the beginning of the trip and were assigned a topic to present on today. We stated what we learned, how it related to past courses, and how it will help is academically, professionally, and personally. The topics were international tax, auditing, sustainability, auditing challenges, financial reporting, the Authority of Financial Markets, and the reporting process. Govert was the judge and the first- and second-place groups won a prize from the Nyenrode bookshop. It was refreshing to see how much information we all took in throughout the trip.

school school2

The day ended with a farewell dinner with Sophie and Govert. We ate at Lakei on campus and enjoyed a great steak dinner. It was nice to have one last dinner with everyone and show our thanks to our hosts. This trip was an unique experience, and we all learned so much. I am sad to leave the Netherlands, but our last term awaits.

food

 

Written by eproulx@uoregon.edu

I started the MAcc program September 2014 and will graduate June 2015. Last year I graduated from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs where I obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. I am excited for our study tour to the Netherlands and looking forward to the adventures that await!

Day 4: Lecture on Regulatory Environment and Trip to KPMG

Our day 4 started from a great lecture in the morning. The topic for today’s presentation was financial reporting supervision and enforcement in international accounting. Ferdy van Beest, who is from Authority of Financial Markets (AFM), presented the aim of AFM and the way in which they are trying to accomplish goals in the Netherlands. Ferdy is an energetic speaker who always encouraged students to ask him questions and made students get involved in this serious topic. He stated that the goal of AFM was to create a better market in the Netherlands. However, AFM was still confronted with some challenges to achieve its goal. For example, collecting sufficient evidence was one of the most important thing for AFM. Beyond that, balance between firm-level and country-level regulation is the other problem they needed to consider. He also spoke about some companies in the Netherlands using integrated reporting, which included a scoring list with mandatory and voluntary components. At the end of his presentation, he mentioned that companies seemed to postpone taking impairment losses, hence suggesting that the financial results are distorted. AFM could not fine them since it was hard to measure without certain information. It seems like AFM still has some challenges when it regulates and enforces the process of financial reporting in the company. We really enjoyed Ferdy’s passionate speech and most of MAcc students even said he was the most interesting speaker during this business trip.

After lunch, we headed to KPMG in Amsterdam. As the previous leading audit firm of Philips, KPMG addressed the challenges they face in auditing an international listed company, and the lecture on external regulation was given by a partner and audit manager, who is also a UO alum. One issue the partner raised is that audit firms must be trusted. He stated that one audit challenge that the auditor faces is the potential punishment from negative news on social media. When one or two auditors fail on audit quality, the whole audit firm would be exposed to negative news. So the audit firms face the challenge of building relationships and trust with stakeholders and potential investors. Our alumnus also gave us some suggestions on how to deal with culture shocks, work pressure, and difficulties from his own experiences on KPMG’s rotation abroad. This presentation was a great opportunity to gain knowledge that could help us to begin our future career path.

KPMG KPMG 3 KPMG 2 KPMG 1

 

Written by Joyce

I am currently a MAcc student at UO and I really enjoy the time here.

Day 3: Randstad, Nike, and the Employee Store

Randstad: Sustainability 

Hallo from Amsterdam day three! This morning the MAcc students visited Randstad, which is an HR services firm that provides jobs for about two million people annually. The topic for today’s presentation was on sustainability. Group Sustainability Officer Marlou Leenders on integrative reporting, sustainability reporting, and provided a case study for MAcc students to present on.

Today, traditional financial reporting is not sufficient enough information for stakeholders. Stakeholders want information on risks, opportunities, environmental efforts, strategy, the social environment, as well as financial performance. Randstad spoke about how important this is for their business model in order to create the most value for shareholders. We then discussed a case study where Marlou had us decide whether Randstad should keep a specific sustainability key performance indicator on which they currently report. This interactive learning opportunity was a great way to involve the MAcc students with important ongoing discussions currently happening at Randstad. We then enjoyed a wonderful lunch in the Randstad office and headed off to the Nike global headquarters in Amsterdam.

Nike: Accounting in Europe 

“If you have a body, you are an athlete.” Nike started off bold. Engaging us with an inspirational video and of course none other than an introduction to the history of Nike speaking about Phil Knight (Uncle Phil) and Bill Bowerman. Courtney Keating, a MAcc graduate and current european accounting manager for Nike, started off this presentation and was kind enough to set up one of the most intriguing discussions of the trip. There were five different topics presented on during our time at Nike. We had Lars Stratveit, Nike iD buyer, speak about the culture and heritage of Nike, as well as the process of Nike iD and what buying from vendors looks like for the company. Suzan Arendsen, director of WE tax, spoke about taxation at Nike and how the Dutch tax authorities are favorable to work with.

Then Erin and Scarlet, the PwC auditors of Nike came to talk about their audit procedures for Nike. They touched on risk assessment of their audit, the use of specialists, the audit planning timeline, and their experience living abroad. It was interesting to hear both the Nike and PwC side. What was even more exciting for me was the fact that I worked with Scarlet this summer during my internship at PwC in San Francisco. Such a small world. Then Justin Allen, retail accounting manager, spoke about Nike’s focus to move towards digital and the growing trend of Nike’s direct-to-consumer business in Europe. Then came THE BIG SURPRISE from Nike.

The final presenter was no one other than the CFO of Nike in Europe, Bart Boekraad. Bart spoke about what it means to be a CFO and how he deals with international management. He touched on the challenges of operating in certain countries and how Nike copes with the current political unrest and economic situations. I also asked him what advice he had for us as young professionals going into the workforce. His answer was that we need to be able to work well in a team, that soft skills are extremely important, as are believing in yourself, staying committed, not over-planning, and not being afraid of new opportunities.

We finished off the day by getting access to the Nike Employee Store. We all bought way too many clothes and shoes. I mean you don’t get that opportunity every day, so our mindset was JUST DO IT!

Written by Gabrielle Sanders

Current candidate for a Masters of Accounting degree from the University of Oregon. After graduation I will be pursuing a career in public accounting with PwC in Portland.

Financial Reporting and Tax Havens

The day started out with clear skies as we headed to breakfast. We discussed our doubts about the forecast for the day: 100 percent chance of rain. The forecast proved accurate before it was lunch time. We were told by our lecturer from Akzo Nobel that this rainy weather was quite common here, just as it is in Eugene.

After breakfast we were seated in an adjacent room overlooking a calm pond overshadowed by old trees. Erika from Akzo Nobel met us at 9:00 a.m. to give insights on the complexity of financial reporting through different jurisdictions, accounting standards, and cultures. Some of the important topics included dealing with pension plans and how the latest laws have changed the cash balance for the company, leading them to borrow from the bank to pay dividends.

Shortly after noon we ate lunch on campus and prepared for our ride to Loyens & Loeff. The building was five stories high, and featured an open middle area in which all the offices overlooked the entrance area, a lunch seating area which also has been used for bands or symphonies, and clear elevators going up on the corners. We were greeted by three employees who discussed the reasons many international companies use the Netherlands for tax purposes. They showed a video illustrating the emotions regarding the political climate surrounding using tax havens to increase profits. Both sides were addressed from the perspective of taking money from the government and tax payers, to the perspective of the hindrance in remaining competitive when in a high tax rate country when other companies located in lower tax countries are able to reduce their tax expense, making them more profitable.

We ended our night with a 30-minute walk to a great restaurant that had the best salmon I have ever had, and more desert than anyone could finish. It was a great ending to a great day.

Written by Steve Griswold

Off To A Great Start

Monday of the Netherlands trip marked the first official day of the program. The day was completely jam-packed with events, but it was still a good time. The day kicked off with Govert introducing us to some of the changes that the Netherlands is going through with regards to risk management. Next was Marcel who was a director of risk management at PwC in Amsterdam. He was a very energetic and passionate about the subject so it made the talk very interesting. I think he was so passionate about it due to the fact that risk management is somewhat of a new concept to the Dutch it seems, thus his profession was just taking off. He went over the various trends that are happening in risk management, and they really had to do with the fact that the world is so connected these days, which ends up making businesses more accountable for their actions across the world. He also stressed that your perception of the problem isn’t always the best, thus diversity in decision-making groups is very important. It was a very enlightening conversation and was made all the more interesting due to his enthusiasm.

After Marcel finished up his talk, we went to Deloitte in Utrecht where Mathijs spoke to us about the differences between a rules-based accounting approach and a principles-based accounting approach. The differences seemed to stem from the fact that rules-based will lay it out for employees where principles-based requires much more judgment from the employees due to the fact that the accounting rules don’t provide as much guidance in situations. Thus the talk centered around that and what might be the best potential system in the future. Mathijs stressed that it can never be all rules or all principles, but more of a middle ground between both systems. The Deloitte office in Utrecht is unbelievable though, it has a room that embodies the company’s new found emphasis on innovation. The company believes that Google and Apple are its biggest competitors rather than PwC, KPMG, and E&Y. I found this idea to be very interesting and intriguing. As you can tell from the futuristic look of the room, they truly believe in this initiative.

After our visit to Deloitte we climbed the Dom Tower in Utrecht. It was about 465 steps and 90 meters high. It provided a beautiful view of Utrecht and the surrounding areas. It was also ideal that we were able to make it up there fairly close to sunset as well. After trekking back down the 465 steps we then went to dinner at Raak where everyone ate glorious chicken skewers and pasta with pesto and portobello mushrooms. The night finished with crème brûlée and chocolate brownies, which were to die for.

 

Written by nbarton

Tulips and Tours

Our first day in Amsterdam was no work and all play.

First, we headed to Kuekenhof, the second largest flower garden in the world, to see the world-famous tulips. While it was early in the year and the tulips were not in full bloom, it was still breathtaking. We spent a few hours strolling through the gardens taking way too many pictures of flowers.

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We headed to the Amsterdam city center for an afternoon of exploration. We hopped on a boat for a tour through the canals of Amsterdam followed by a walking tour. The day ended with a delicious dinner at a Belgian restaurant. We definitely had a fantastic time on our first full day in the Netherlands.

Written by Alicia Gunther

Master of Accounting student

Day 1: Getting There

I had the easiest flight possible, direct Portland to Amsterdam. I even took a shuttle up from Eugene so I didn’t have to think about driving. But not getting a wink of sleep on a ten-hour flight can make being perky at 8:30 a.m. Dutch time a challenge. Nevertheless, stepping outside Schiphol Airport, I was met with a blast of cool, fresh, misty air. And the ride to Nyenrode offered views of green, water, cows, and sheep. It was as if I hadn’t even left the Willamette valley… until I saw the quaint villages in the background and swans in the foreground.

Nyenrode campus

Nyenrode campus

Nyenrode campus is surrounded by farmland—there’s a horse right outside my hotel room. The air has a nice earthy smell, which adds to the charm of the stream, footbridges, and castle. The reception building, however, is state of the art, complete with monitors showing the day’s schedule, modern lounge areas, and excellent coffee machines that grind the beans right before pouring your personal espresso.

cure for the jet-lag blues

cure for the jet-lag blues

Not even close to homesick yet. But I’m glad we have a few days to reset before we dig into the curriculum.

 

Written by Margaret Savoian

After earning my Master of Accounting degree at UO in 2004 and spending a few years in public accounting, I returned to the Lundquist College of Business as the Administrative Manager of the Accounting Department. I oversee many department operations, including planning alumni events, directing annual fundraising, managing finances, developing communications materials, and organizing scholarships.

Netherlands, Here We Come!

Plane ticket? Check. Passport? Check. Eagerness to see international accounting in action? Check.

Preparations are in the works for the Master of Accounting (MAcc) program’s international study tour to Nyenrode University in the Netherlands. Program director Robin Clement and I will join fourteen of the MAcc students to fly to Amsterdam in just a couple of weeks. The students have learned tons in their international accounting course and are ready to use their new skills in IFRS, international tax, and governance. I’m excited to see what the students bring to the table and what new perspectives they’ll bring home.

I’m also looking forward to seeing some tulips and bicycles.

Expedia: Tulips on Bicycle Above Canal

Written by Margaret Savoian

After earning my Master of Accounting degree at UO in 2004 and spending a few years in public accounting, I returned to the Lundquist College of Business as the Administrative Manager of the Accounting Department. I oversee many department operations, including planning alumni events, directing annual fundraising, managing finances, developing communications materials, and organizing scholarships.

International Insights at TATA and Randstad

After another great breakfast, we made our way into Amsterdam to TATA Consultancy Services (TCS).  Sandra Ondunk-van Der Meij gave us great insight on their operations under TATA in India.  Part of their financial success can be attributed to the cost advantages of operating in a developing nation, but they have specific governance concerns related to managing international risk.

The entire company is governed by a code of conduct and excellence model; TATA and TCS focus on developing transparent relationships, demonstrating good citizenship, and running a fair business.  In India, five to ten percent of profits must be reinvested in the community by law, but TCS is taking steps in that direction without statutory motivation.  Ondunk-van Der Meij described how sustainability and socially responsible initiatives are generally slow in coming for TCS but said that within a few years, the projects should be in full motion.

She also spoke to a question from yesterday regarding companies having a tendency to window dress with sustainability and corporate responsibility reporting.  Firms should absolutely present their activities in the most positive light, but if the spin on the description of their efforts can no longer be substantiated, then they should reconsider the ethical concerns behind that reporting precedent and the additional risk for the firm.

We then moved on to Randstad to hear from three different speakers on their reporting position, internal audit structure and additional corporate governance.

Robert Jan van de Kraats, the CFO, gave us insight on their business model and a few reporting issues.  Operating in forty countries, Randstad serves each customer with a cookie-cutter product, applying 20% variation to adapt to the unique cultural or customer needs.

Randstad sees the major integrated reporting challenges as getting the correct data, choosing the relevant measure, and holding the interest of shareholders.  While these seemed to dissuade the CFO, the company secretary was more motivated to make the transition.  He spoke to the importance of maintaining the firm image via corporate governance based on core values, behavior expectations, and the correct tone from the top.  All in all, corporate governance should be the link that pulls each segment of a business together under the same ethical and business motivations.

To wrap up our afternoon, we had the opportunity to visit the Anne Frank Museum in the actual house where she and her family went into hiding during the Second World War.  Many of us were familiar with the story, but the tour provided amazing context to the published diary as we traveled through the same corridors and rooms that Anne Frank called home for two years during those trying times.

Dutch pancakes for dinner caused quite a stir.  They were sweet, savory, or a mix of both. We each chose three toppings to embellish our thin pancakes.  Some combinations included:

  • Apples, bananas, and Nutella
  • Chicken, cheese, and mushrooms
  • Chicken, apples, and peaches

All the pancakes were topped with apple or caramel syrup.  It was a tasty treat.

We spent one more hour exploring the festive streets of Amsterdam before retiring back at Nyenrode.

We are all looking forward to our last day together tomorrow.

—Maggie Pietka ’13, MAcc ’14

Written by UO Business

The UO Lundquist College of Business empowers an engaged community of students, faculty, staff, and stakeholders who create, apply, and disseminate knowledge that contributes significantly to their professions, communities, and society. The college delivers a dynamic learning environment where world-class professors engage and get to know students, where students work on real projects for real companies, and where alumni go on to high-powered jobs worldwide.

In the Castle—Learning about Sustainability Reporting

We had the morning off to rest and explore.  Some got up early and took the bus to Utrecht to explore and shop.  And some stayed on campus and slept or walked.

After a tour of the castle and lunch, we enjoyed an afternoon in the castle learning about sustainability reporting and assurance services from Marieke Milkenberg, manager of KPMG.

After several years as a financial auditor, Milkenberg joined the sustainability reporting advisory practice.  With forty professionals in The Netherlands and 700 world wide, this practice is growing.

Milkenberg shared information about the types of discussions that she has with clients who want to begin to report on their sustainability efforts. As in financial reporting, the emphasis should be on identifying material risks and determining the best ways to address them.

For example, a bank may being doing a great job on water conservation and energy efficiency, but in the grand scheme of things, those are not where their great exposures are. Reporting on their impacts on making money available for economic development as well as their personnel decisions is far more important.

The students then had a spirited debate on whether or not corporate responsibility reporting was merely green-washing and whether the next step in the development of this reporting is integrated reporting.

Thursday has us going to Amsterdam and Diemen with a focus on financial reporting and corporate governance.  We will then tour the Anne Frank House and enjoy a traditional pancake dinner.

—Dr. Robin Clement, Director, Master of Accounting Program | Accounting Department Coordinator | Senior Instructor

Written by UO Business

The UO Lundquist College of Business empowers an engaged community of students, faculty, staff, and stakeholders who create, apply, and disseminate knowledge that contributes significantly to their professions, communities, and society. The college delivers a dynamic learning environment where world-class professors engage and get to know students, where students work on real projects for real companies, and where alumni go on to high-powered jobs worldwide.