Executive Master in International Association Management

Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share on Twitter Printer-friendly version Send by email

Executive Master in International Association Management


Association Executives need perspective and skills in core managerial activities but also the soft skills to continue to play the important socio-political role in Europe and to understand its continuously changing economic, social and political environment. To efficiently manage an association means facing new challenges in the wake of increasing competition, resources crunch and economic crisis. Leading a membership-based association requires today a constant balancing of current needs, external demands, and long-term vision.

In order to further build the leadership capacities, strategic planning and management skills of the association managers and thus enhance the reputation of the association management profession, the European Society of Association Executives (ESAE), the Union of International Associations (UIA) and the Federation of European and International Associations (FAIB) seek to develop a learning experience in Brussels with the Executive Education branch of the Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management (SBS-EM).

The Executive Master in International Association Management is taught by academics from the Solvay Brussels School-EM and features regular intervention from key speakers from the three associations and their membership sharing their insights and expertise with the objective to provide the association professionals with opportunities to

In partnershitp with VISITBRUSSELS, the communications agency for tourism in Brussels, the European Society of Association Executives (ESAE), the Union of International Associations (UIA) and the Federation of European and International Associations (FAIB).


The first educational programme dedicated to Association Management in Europe, with the objective to:

  • Enhance the leadership skills of the association executives to face the management challenges within their respective professions/tasks/functions.
  • Get a broad coverage of the main fundamental strategic and functional areas in management.
  • Understand the best practices across the association sector.
  • Take part in bringing about a platform for knowledge-sharing, showcasing experiences and cooperation.

The programme is specifically designed for association professionals expected to take on wider responsibilities and grow within their respective organisation. Typical participants are senior leaders and executives of international associations and professional societies:

■ CEOs, Managing Directors, Secretaries-General

■ Financial and Projects Managers

■ Marketing and Communications Officers

■ Head of Departments

■ Operations Managers

The focus of the programme curriculum is two-fold:

  • to address the main fundamental strategic and functional areas in management
  • to bring them into perspective within the association sector through a set of case studies, testimonials and discussions brought by association specialist.  

Module 1 - Leadership and Change 

The most powerful form of leadership is one in which the leader makes it a priority to bring out the best in others and put it to good use. The realisation that leadership is a relationship and not just a personal skill or talent will encourage participants to embrace self-awareness and a whole range of personal, interpersonal and team skills that they can learn, develop and practice in order to become better leaders.

Module 2 - Finance and Performance 

This course introduces the basic concepts and tools of financial management. Corporations face two main types of decisions: capital budgeting decisions (how much to invest and what real assets to invest in) and financing decisions (what securities to issue in order to raise the cash required). This course will deal with valuation and capital budgeting decisions and will address the business models specific to the association sector.

Modules 3 & 4:

Strategic Management I: Building on For-Profit Perspective

Strategic Management II: A Governance Perspective 

These modules will provide participants with an introduction to business strategy. It will develop analytical tools and models, discusses the underlying theories and their frameworks through a combination of case studies, lecture/discussions and readings. The aim is to allow participants to develop a view of strategic management that helps them in identifying and the fundamental determinants of success in their business environments as well as conditions for and paths for creating and capturing value in today’s competitive environment. The strategic management will be covered by two modules: the first will explore the context of for-profit activities ; the second will be dedicated to fundamental governance concepts with a special focus on non-profit priorities. 

Modules 5 & 6:


Building the Fundamentals of Value-Focused Marketing  

Leveraging the Fundamentals of Value-Focused Marketing  

The objectives of the marketing modules are to make participants understand the importance of“value-focused” marketing, discover its principles, methods and tools (Module 1) and practice through exercises and a sector-specif c business case (Module 2). Transversally, the modules will also address how to manage stakeholders’ needs in order to boost advocacy.

Module 7 - Project and Event Management 

This module provides a structured setting in which the participants can familiarize themselves with the most important ideas in project management, and learn how to apply these concepts to their personal working needs and those of their organisation. The emphasis is further put on specificities of events management with regard to conceptualisation and delivery of events along with their positioning within a wider context in which the associations operate.

The Solvay Brussels School faculty will comprise of highly qualified academic experts, all with extensive business experience. These module leaders will team up with qualified association specialists allowing for a bottom-up approach in defining the module content. Real-world perspective will thus complement the academic study throughout the programme.

Module I

Susan WEST holds a Masters in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University (United States). Her passion for business and psychology led her to an international career in human resources where, over the past 20 years, she worked with some of the Fortune 500’s top global executives. Susan’s career spans multiple industries in Europe and the United States. She was Senior HR Business Partner at Citibank, then moved to AlliedSignal as Director of Organization & Leadership Development. She also held leadership positions at Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck & Co., Inc. in Performance Consulting and Corporate Talent Management. In 2006 she established a consulting practice in Brussels, dedicated to helping leaders and their teams meet today’s business challenges.

Association specialists
Judith HARDT, Managing Director, Swiss Finance Council
Isabelle BARDINET, CEO, European Society of Cardiology

Module II

Mathias SCHMIT is professor of Finance at the Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management, ULB. He teaches Finance, Banking, Risk Management, EU Financial Regulation and Case Studies in Microfinance. Mathias holds a PhD in finance and has published numerous scientific papers on the impact of Basel II on the financial industry. He is also the founder of SAGORA, a network of senior risk professionals merging extensive asset financing and banking experience.

Association specialists
Alessandro CORTESE, CEO, European Society for Radiotherapy & Oncology (ESTRO)
Pierre NOIRHOMME, Partner at the European VAT Desk

Module III & IV

Paul VERDIN is Professor and Chair in Strategy and Organisation at Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management and Professor of Strategy and International Management at K.U.Leuven (Belgium). He was previously at IESE Business School (Spain), and a “Distinguished Visiting Professor” at INSEAD (France), where he was on the faculty for over 15 years. He holds an MA and Ph.D. in Economics (Industrial Organization) from Harvard University and has held short-term positions with McKinsey & Co, Merrill Lynch Capital Markets, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. His research has been published in leading management journals and books in the field of strategy and international management.

Alessandro CORTESE is the Chief Executive Officer of ESTRO, the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology, and was, until June 2015, President of ESAE, the European Society of Association Executives. Previously, Alessandro was Director of the Association Management practice at MCI, based in Brussels. He has gained significant experience working with international associations, particularly heading up the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) office of the Project Management Institute (PMI). Before working in the association domain, Alessandro worked as a marketing and communications specialist for  AT Kearney and for McCann-Erickson, based in Milan, Italy. He is a graduate from the University Statale degli Studi di Milano, with a degree in political sciences and a master in business administration. He is regularly invited to give talks to industry events and congresses, focusing in particular on strategy and business development, meetings planning and governance for International Associations and Foundations. He is also a member of the city marketing International Advisory Boards in Sydney and Washington.

Association specialists
Mohamed MEZGHANI, Deputy Secretary General, Union Internationale des Transports Publics (UITP)
Kai TROLL, Head of Development, ISCA
Tanguy VAN DE WERVE, Managing Director Advocacy, Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME)

Module V & VI

Jean-Pierre AERTS has more than 20 years of experience in multi-cultural environments - as manager, consultant, facilitator and trainer - in the areas of communication, branding, marketing, sales and team development. Active for both product and service companies, Jean-Pierre worked over the past years for companies such as Belgacom - Beiersdorf - Coca-Cola - Delta Lloyd - Dexia - EVS - Ethias - Gallaher - ING - Lafarge - Omega Pharma - Procter & Gamble - RJR Nabisco - RTL - Sodexo - Spa Waters – Skynet Jean-Pierre holds a MBA from the Cornell University (NY State USA), on top of degrees in Law (ULg Belgium) and in Business Administration (UCL Belgium). He regularly facilitates workshops gathering managers from all over the world, and trains professionals attending the following universities: ULB - Solvay Business School - Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi Universities.

Association specialists
Filip GEERTS, Director General, European Association of the Machine Tool Industries (CECIMO)
Pierre PIRARD, Board Member, Teach for Belgium

Module VII

With almost 20 years business experience, including 12 years of consulting, Frederic Hoffmann gained expertise in Project and Portfolio Management (PPM). He implemented PPM best practices, methods and tools for international private and public institutions. He is currently in charge of the project quality insurance at company level in the Strategic Management department of BNP Paribas Fortis. He is also lecturer and coach at the Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management (MBA and Executive Education programmes). He holds a degree in Economics and a postgraduate degree in Management of Information Technology.

Association specialists
Chris TRIMMER, Executive Director, World Obesity Forum
Sven BOSSU, Head of Sibos, SWIFT


The programme is designed for international association executives holding a university diploma and with at least 3 years of work experience from any sector. Candidates with no university credentials but with substantial work experience will also be considered.

Admissions are operating on a rolling basis: applications are being accepted on a space-available basis, and the admission committee will make a decision based on applicant’s online file.


LIESBETH SWITTEN, Association Lawyer, Association of Issuing Bodies (AIB)

Printer-friendly versionSend to friend

« One of the strengths of the Executive Master in International Association Management is the blend of Solvay professors and international association experts providing a broad theoretical base flavoured with case studies, bringing situations to life and assisting you in applying the knowledge. I would highly recommend this programme to anyone looking for a broad, in-depth perspective into the management of international associations. »

LIESBETH SWITTEN, Partcipant 2015

MYRIAM LYBEER, Membership Manager, European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO)

Printer-friendly versionSend to friend

« A highly interesting and diversified programme that serves the personal and professional development needs of an association career! »

MYRIAM LYBEER, Participant 2015

CÉLINE SERIO, Head of Department - Acute Cardiovascular Care Association (ACCA); European Society of Cardiology (ESC)

Printer-friendly versionSend to friend

« Managing an international non-profit organisation and running its activities on a daily basis cannot be compared to any other job. This rather short but intense programme enables to oversee the challenges and pinpoint the best practices to optimise efficiency. It is also a great opportunity to meet and exchange with professionals running similar businesses and having similar functions. »

CÉLINE SERIO, Participant 2015