‘I do Think BUas is rebellious’

In the past 4.5 years Roland Kleve has been academy director in the Leisure & Events domain of Breda University of Applied Sciences (BUas). Before that, he used to work at leisure organisations, such as Disneyland Paris, Bobbejaanland, and Circuit Zandvoort. His adventure will soon continue as managing director at Eindhoven365 and Eindhoven247.

  • About BUas
  • Leisure & events

Why did you apply for a job at BUas in 2019?

Roland: ‘Because after thirty years working in the leisure industry it was a step out of my comfort zone to opt for education and research. I found it a wonderful challenge to connect even more from the industry to the academy. It’s great that I was able to contribute to it for the institution, colleagues, and students.’

How did you experience the first period at the academy?

‘We started working with Team-based Working and soon after that, Covid-19 came into our lives. We faced challenges which had to be addressed very pragmatically. The coronavirus had a huge impact on our industry. Not only negatively. It showed us that leisure & events are crucial for our society’s well-being. Businesses in banking or in, for example IT now see that using leisure contributes to retaining and motivating employees. We see that our graduates end up in other domains, where they use leisure. For example, they organise monthly events that give meaning to an organisation. We used to see no added value in working from home; now we do. But it’s important to keep the connection with employees and also get them back to the office. Using leisure helps with that.’

‘In addition, I saw during the first period and still see today that employees work with passion and teach with heart and soul. They are committed to the subject matter, but also to students. I find that incredibly wonderful to see. Colleagues get energy from being able to help mold the managers of the future. It’s a very beautiful profession.’   

How would you describe BUas?

‘I do think BUas is rebellious. We make a statement how important small-scale education and the international aspect are. We can use our domain expertise to make the world a better place. Making impact and being climate aware. We don't sit back but are action-oriented. We’ve realised that it’s no longer just about commercial, operational and financial, but it’s also about diversity, inclusion and circularity. We’re taking this into all our areas of education and research and taking this back to industry as well.’ 

What have you learned in this position?

‘I've learned to balance my enthusiasm and impulsiveness a bit. In business, you're taking action more quickly. In education, you work with people who have a lot of knowledge and experience and are intrinsically immensely motivated. It's important in education to set a direction together.’ 

How did you keep your own authentic and commercial outlook in this educational setting?

‘I came from Disneyland and Bobbejaanland. It was crucial for me to also be in front of the classroom and interact and engage with students. I felt it was important to get a feel for the target audience and the field of expertise. That wasn't always easy, but it was necessary to be able to manage the academy. Practise what you preach. I saw the students in their first year and soon they will graduate; you keep that connection with students and that’s really valuable. I got to know another generation. When I'm at a party, I always walk around boasting about BUas as well. I’m genuinely proud of what we do and what we stand for as an institution. We provide a meaningful experience; the next step is a transformative experience, so that you really change your behaviour after experiencing a leisure activity. Getting people along to keep making a difference, that's what we have to stand for.’

What was most challenging in your role?

‘In the past four years, we as an institution have moved much more towards team-based working. The Executive Board, together with the academy directors, provide direction and frameworks. There is a lot of scope for the teams to determine how we get there, and to set priorities and their own work within those frameworks. That's much more powerful. You focus as a team on talents of the participants, you do it together.’

Which two golden characteristics should your successor have?

‘Dare to delegate responsibilities and have confidence in your team. It's not going to work if someone comes and 'just changes it'. No, we have powerful team members and you have to keep building and connecting with other academies. And maybe a personal thing, but take your work very seriously but not yourself so much.’

What has stuck with you the most?

What certainly stuck with me is that we live in a VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) age. That means we need to teach our students to deal with flexibility. Changes keep coming and uncertainties keep coming. We need to help them cope with that and embrace that. Making sure students are energised by that instead of frustrated.

What are you going to do now?

‘I’m going back home. I was born and raised in Eindhoven. Then I left for America, Germany, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. I gained a lot of experience in leisure & events in the fields of management and organisation. I’ll soon find myself in a position where I get to bring that experience and that knowledge to an already very strong organisation and city. Eindhoven, the craziest. I am proud of that. Breda is very beautiful, but when I walk the streets of Eindhoven, everything has a far-reaching meaning because I grew up there and that does a lot to me.  I will be managing director at Eindhoven365 and Eindhoven247. They represent Eindhoven's city marketing strategy. They are also executives for events. For example, they were closely involved in the creation of Glow from the beginning and they work closely together with Dutch Design Week. Events with the Eindhoven DNA.’

What will you miss the most about BUas?

‘I don't have to miss anything because in my new role I’ll be working on city marketing and events, among other things. I want to share knowledge and experience in the region and to do that I would love to stay connected with students, lecturers and professors at BUas in all different domains, such as, games, media, leisure & events, and hospitality. So, I’ll definitely be seeing you guys!’

Curious about the vacancy of Director of Leisure & Events at Breda University of Applied Sciences? You will find the vacancy in this link.