Alumni Diaries: Become a True Digital Driving Force in Business

Have you ever wondered why things are changing around you instead of being a part of them? For Thomas Waegemans, too many great ideas lost their value because they were not being realized or brought to market. His search to find a way to blend creativity with business acumen led him to enroll in Hyper Island’s MA Digital Management program. Here, we discover how he transferred his learnings to become Business Design and Strategy Lead at Fortune 500 Global 500 company, Accenture Interactive.

A transformative journey to become a new kind of leader

Digital transformation comes as a result of change. A successful leader drives change by taking a fresh approach to problem solving, design thinking, business transformation and leadership itself.

Thomas had his own interpretation of leadership prior to his time at Hyper Island. “If you want to become a great leader, you first need to understand yourself really well and how you behave in a team-based environment,”. he says. At Hyper Island, learning-based experiences are the focal point for a successful development. When it comes to leadership, the approach is to learn how to lead yourself, and then learn how to lead others. Upon discovering the Digital Management program, Thomas was instantly attracted to the leadership aspect. “I loved the idea of self-awareness in leadership,” he continues.

A diverse and digital learning environment

The Digital Management program is a one-year master’s program with the time divided in half; 6 months on campus and 6 months working remotely in the industry.

With a lot to learn in a short amount of time, Thomas felt the impact of working in a diverse within the first few weeks of being on campus at Hyper Island. “I’ve never experienced anything like that. We were 40+ people from all over the world, with different ages, backgrounds and beliefs. I was seriously out of my comfort zone,” he describes.

However, in order to become a leader who is adaptive, collaborative and creatively driven—who can go beyond conventional thinking practices to create effective teams and business value—there’s no time for comfort zones in an ever-changing digital world.

As former master’s student and Senior Designer at Proctor & Gamble in Singapore and former master’s student, Eunice Hong, puts it, “Be curious, embrace the discomfort, enjoy the ride!”

Applying your learnings directly to a real client

The Digital Management program is comprised of five practical group projects led by industry practitioners. This contributed to Thomas’s favorite part of the program. “The strategy and innovation module facilitated by David Erixon and Paul McCabe. For me, this was less about theory and more about mindset,” he states.

A course at Hyper Island has industry leaders and course facilitators to offer leadership guidance and development through topics such as innovation, agile working, project management, group dynamics, strategic development, and more.

So, what did Thomas learn from these industry leaders that he has now transferred into the real world?

“I can literally apply almost anything that I’ve learned to a real-life professional environment. Learning how to reframe things and to challenge the challenge was probably the most impactful.”

The program also includes an independent Industry research project, which can be completed from anywhere in the world.

“I wanted to explore the link between new ways of working and positive psychology, which maybe was a little bit too ambitious in terms of scope. I had fun along the way though.”

Driving change with fresh approach to problem solving

After graduating from Hyper Island, Thomas went on to be a part of the FJORD London family – working with Business Design for global clients across retail, financial services and health and life sciences.

In his current role as a business design and strategy lead, Thomas wears his many hats as a strategist, designer and facilitator and helps organizations handle change. Through defining why organisations exist in the lives of the people they serve, where they can have the most impact in the future and how they need to behave in order to get there, Thomas also supports organizations in reinventing themselves through creating meaningful work.

These days, Thomas is still no stranger to Hyper Island. He returns to the school every year to talk to the current students about the work he’s been doing and to coach them through their projects.

“People tend to become smarter every year and it scares me. In general, I believe the Digital Management MA is a great program and is still highly relevant. I also have the impression that it evolves over time and adapts to a changing world of work,” he says.

A truly innovative program

The Digital Management MA is a full-time program based at our Manchester or Stockholm campus for the first 6 months. You’ll learn primarily through doing – with hands-on workshopping, team challenges and deep reflection.

Areas of study range from design thinking to business transformation, to creating your own project to show innovation in the development of new ideas or transformation of existing ideas in an area of digital management.

So, does Thomas have a specific takeaway from his time on the Digital Management program? It sounds like his professional learnings have also filtered into his personal life.

“My fiancée once told me that Hyper Island made me a better boyfriend. I think she means my active listening skills have improved.”

We can’t guarantee that we will always improve your skills in your romantic life, but we can certainly improve your digital management competencies. Find out how here.