From the Netherlands to Norway

Name: Kirsten Zantvoort

Degree Program: Master in Business Analytics

Undergraduate Degree: Economics and Business Studies

Undergraduate University: Justus Liebig Universität Gießen

Hometown: Bremen, Germany

Citizenship: Dutch


Before coming to Oslo, I was working as a project manager in a corporate development department in Germany. During my work, I was regularly confronted with the huge potential laying in data on the one hand and the problem of how little I knew about it on the other. After realizing that Excel was nowhere enough to tackle the problems I was interested in solving, I started looking for opportunities to expand my data analytics skills. After two years of working full-time, I decided to go back to university to get my master’s degree.

I first heard about BI Norwegian Business School…

As I searched for programs that combined business and IT while concentrating on data management, I found BI´s new Master of Business Analytics program.

I decided to come to BI because…

  1. The program sounded like what I was looking for.
  2. I was excited about moving to a Scandinavian country.
  3. A scholarship offer from BI enabled me to fully focus on my studies.

I believe this will help my career by… I consider knowledge of analytical tools and data-driven decision making to be crucial skills in today’s business world – whether one wants to go into Marketing, Finance or Supply Chain. I therefore believe that a Master in Business Analytics will help me prepare for future work challenges and hope it will open doors to interesting tasks and opportunities.

Academic Experience:

The best piece of advice I can give to a new student about my program is…

Everyone should carefully consider what he/she wants. Depending on one’s background, there can be a wide range of interpretation on what a “Master in Business Analytics” means. This particular program is designed as an applied program with focus on every-day business problems. While it is definitely more statistic-heavy than other business masters, it is not the right program if you have extensive previous knowledge in Data Science, nor is it intended to make you a Data Scientist. As there was a broad mix of business majors, engineers and economists in our class, an equal starting point was ensured through repetition of the basic concepts in the start of the program. In our case, the pace then picked up in the second semester with more advanced courses such as Machine Learning and Predictive Analysis. In what I would consider a fairly unique aspect of the BI education culture, professors and academic staff are very concerned with making sure everyone keeps up with the curriculum, regularly asking for feedback on the pace of the class and adjusting to the majorities wishes whenever possible. In conclusion, this program is a great opportunity for anyone that has had a different focus in their bachelor and now wants to learn hands-on data analytics skills.

I have been challenged by…

BI as a school is very different from my bachelor university. I went from huge classes and multiple-choice exams that were mainly about learning by heart, to small classes, a lot of group work and open-book exams. I found it fairly curious to be allowed my materials in written exams or to virtually move into school with my group to face a 72h programming exam. However, I now appreciate this approach as I found it to be a way more realistic approximation to what is expected in a professional working environment. I mean, which boss will expect you pick your choice of a pre-selection of five answers with no access to outside materials as it is common in many other universities’ exams? As another example, in the first semester at BI, we got an actual problem from a Norwegian energy company to solve in a term paper and got to present our findings to representatives of the company in the end. While this is great to prepare one for a corporate career, it is worth mentioning that BI, as a business school, naturally puts less emphasis on academic work.

International Experience:

The biggest culture shock for me moving here was…

At the beginning, I was surprised how different Norway was after all. Being Dutch and growing up in the North of Germany, I had the notion that I knew quite well what to expect. Especially as I have had the opportunity to live in far more different cultures, such as Paraguayan and Armenian, I figured adjusting to Norway would be a piece of cake. While I definitely had a lot less to adapt to than my friends from outside of Europe, I did find Norwegians to think and act surprisingly different every now and then.

The most remarkable experience I have had so far is…

In November 2018, I got to travel to Lithuania to represent BI at the international Case Competition “Creative Shock” together with two of my fellow students. It was a great weekend with a lot of input on Social Entrepreneurship, listing to inspiring people, meeting incredible teams from all over the world and solving exciting cases.

The one thing you absolutely must do while living here is…

Go hiking! With endless forest trails, countless lakes and absolutely breath-taking views easily accessible only a few kilometers outside of Oslo, I have quickly grown fond of the very Norwegian habit of spending weekends in nature.

The scariest thing about moving away from home was…

As I have been moving around different cities and countries for a couple of years now, coming to Norway, luckily, wasn’t very scary. However, loving summer time, I did worry a bit about surviving Norwegian winter. While dark days and icy roads can get a bit annoying, I have grown to appreciate the beauty of snow-white landscapes, possibilities of winter sport and “koselig” (Eng. Cozy) evenings by open fire places.

Winter Landscape at Vettakollen

The most remarkable/interesting thing I learned about myself at BI so far is…

I got to determine for myself that I am into academic work and theoretical frameworks more than I anticipated. I chose a business school because the program was designed for people with a background like mine while most other universities programs are targeted at math or IT majors. The program at BI is perfect to be introduced to hands-on data analysis that can be put to direct use in a variety of companies and organizations. However, I have found myself interested in going deeper into academic discourse. Hence, I am currently considering enrolling in a PhD program after finishing my masters at BI.

My career goal is…

In the long run, I would like to go back to strategic project management, only then equipped with way more powerful tools to analyze the world.

In which country or organization that will be? I am curious to find out myself.

Do not miss your chance, GO NORTH!

Kirsten Zantvoort  started the Master of Science in Business Analytics programme in August 2018. To find out more about the programme, go to or email

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