MBA success stories: Yasin Amani and Tim Mazajchik, Nyenrode (Netherlands)

Yasin Amani and Tim Mazajchik were neighbours on campus at Nyenrode Business Universiteit in the Netherlands, and shared a similar experience. Throughout each module of their International MBA programme, and in sessions with board members of Philips, DSM, Achmea, IBM, Microsoft and others, they realised that sustainability was to play a vital role in the organisations of the future and would therefore become the next big thing on the management agenda. But many companies remained unsure or unfamiliar with how to design and implement effective CSR strategies. With a high dose of confidence and entrepreneurial spirit, they decided to launch their company immediately after graduation.

Heartbeat Strategy is a CSR-focused consultancy service which challenges organisations to build high-performance business models that recognise both their responsibility for society (the Heart) and economic drive for profitable business (the Beat), and helps to create and implement them.

In February 2016, Tim and Yasin were shortlisted to present Heartbeat Strategy to the judging panel of AMBA’s MBA Entrepreneurial Venture Award and were awarded the runners-up trophy. The two were the first alumni entry from Nyenrode to make it into the final.

Tim says: ‘The AMBA award was an unexpected and great experience for us, as it reconfirmed the importance of our work. We received great feedback from the judges, which we took seriously. Furthermore, it gave us even more credibility and exposure. Our website visitors went up by at least 20% in the weeks following the news of our nomination. Since then, we have continued to go from strength to strength.’

Yasin adds: ‘It’s very exciting to be a leading player on CSR which is, if not already, becoming an important pillar of commercial success. We see that companies are increasingly aware of their impact on society and the environment, and it energises us to go one step further. Heartbeat Strategy would not have been possible without Nyenrode. Since the AMBA award we have shown a steady growth, built new business propositions, and took on bigger projects. This coming year is set to be even greater.’

Heartbeat Strategy is a research and consulting firm, which enables companies to fully understand the benefit of implementing CSR initiatives that generate a real value for both business and the wider society. Tim Mazajchik and Yasin Amani are guiding companies to become a positive force for change by designing bespoke initiatives that advances their business and embeds sustainability in their day-to-day operations. In the last three years, Heartbeat Strategy has grown from a great idea to a company, which runs large-scale CSR projects for a number of well-known international organisations.

Yasin says: ‘Business is changing. With today’s ever accelerating societal challenges and technological developments, companies are heading towards a paradigm shift. In this paradigm shift, the urge for sustainable management is increasingly visible in the market, and it’s coming from different angles: there is a growing demand for transparency, climate change and resource scarcity are acknowledged on a global scale, consumer choices are changing, investors are looking for new business models like the sharing economy and circular economy, and small start-ups grow rapidly to become serious competitors.’

Heartbeat Strategy has identified two types of organisations, which for ease of reference, it named as the ‘leaders’ and the ‘laggers’. They can be identified as follows:

– Multi-stakeholder approach
– Disruptive business models
– Creating shared value
– Comply with governmental requirements
– Prevailing business model is leading
– Focusing on risk avoidance and efficiency 

The leaders are just starting to understand the power that comes with successfully harnessing sustainable management practices, and tend to focus on system-innovation. Whereas the laggers are still stuck in prevailing business models, and focus on system-optimisation.

A practical example of what currently is happening in the market is that organisations would like to have a better understanding of how they can engage with their customers on the topic of sustainability.

The answer to do this: by involving them based on their needs. Heartbeat Strategy has developed a model in which it has identified five types of consumer-needs when it comes to the topic of CSR, and translated this to all the households in the Netherlands. This way companies could easily verify:

  • Which unique sustainability segment their current consumer base exists and how they are spread geographically
  • Whether their current engagement approach matches the needs of their consumers
  • Easily search for lookalikes in other regions in order to increase their conversion

With this approach, companies increase the success-rate of their sustainable product or service that they are offering in the market. This kind of research would typically be applied by an organisation that is characterised as a leader.

Tim explains: ‘At Heartbeat Strategy we understand that all leaders were once laggers and we firmly believe that businesses are THE perfect agents to lead transformation. They need to adapt, innovate and create new opportunities for growth. Our clients choose us because we understand their business goals while simultaneously challenge them to incorporate non-financial metrics in their decision-making process. But it requires character, leadership, passion, and purpose to implement sustainable management.’

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