Welcome to XOLAS! We are an innovative consultancy partnership helping business schools and universities achieve their strategic ambitions.
Our approach is unique — we provide advisory services informed by advanced data analytics to help our clients rationalize their development plans and performance targets.
Because we care
Business Schools and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are facing a variety of challenges, the most important ones being technology-driven disruptions in teaching & learning, rising financial pressures, heightened international competition, and changing demographics.
The creation of XOLAS reflects the strong personal and professional desire of the founders to guide and support business schools and HEIs in dealing with these challenges. We offer our services “because we care”, because we believe in the higher purpose of higher education and consider business schools as an integral part of this sector.
XOLAS supports clients in strategy development and implementation, in organizational refocusing and restructuring, as well as in targeted efforts to enhance managerial effectiveness. We provide an external market perspective and facilitate the mapping of project outcomes into external recognition by stakeholders and quality assessment bodies.
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XOLAS aspires to be a thought leader in the higher education sector by producing insights on development opportunities available to business schools and universities and challenges facing them. Our research feeds into the development of metrics that link institutional responses to quality enhancement, business and societal impact, market recognition and financial performance.
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At XOLAS, we believe that higher education leaders require sound business analytics to rationalize decision-making and enrich external communication. We apply data analysis to give our clients clarity on market positioning and likely impact of development actions. We build analytic tools that enhance managerial effectiveness, while at the same time targeting compliance of external quality and performance standards.
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XOLAS offers customized coaching to aid the implementation of advisory outcomes delivered to clients. XOLAS further provides turn-key training solutions to business schools, universities and other organizations interested in implementing the design internally or supplying them to their stakeholders. The XOLAS team selectively contributes to the facilitation of professional development offers.
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While the disruptive forces in higher education are creating manifold opportunities for development and growth, they will also expose some institutions to crisis and financial distress. XOLAS offers its competencies in risk and restructuring advisory to help clients address these challenges from a strategic and operational perspective.
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XOLAS Advisory Services
The XOLAS advisory offer is based on a three-pillar approach:
- We provide business school clients with an external market perspective of the issue at hand supported by proprietary data analytics and benchmarking,
- we help our clients to identify sustainable strategic responses and to subsequently design the implementation process,
- we facilitate and support our clients’ organizational restructuring efforts to achieve revised strategic ambitions and performance targets.
XOLAS Knowledge Solutions
Knowledge solutions strengthen advisory competencies of XOLAS as well as its visibility in the business school and university community. We organize workshops, produce occasional white papers, and publish books and articles in practitioner media and newspapers. We broadly engage in a dialogue with the business school community by disseminating knowledge outcomes via social media, conferences, webinars and any other means available to us. We partner with other organizations of high repute with a shared topical interest.
XOLAS Intelligence Solutions
Our emerging portfolio of business intelligence tools is a key driver of XOLAS advisory. It enables clients to adopt a business-analytic approach to quality improvement and enhances their credibility when seeking market recognition. We pursue tool development synergistically with XOLAS knowledge solutions with current focus areas being performance controlling, competitive benchmarking, and impact measurement.
XOLAS Training Solutions
XOLAS training solutions are built around developmental challenges facing higher education institutions and aim to enhance the organizational agility of our clients. Target groups can be executives occupying specific functional roles or project teams tasked with strategy implementation. Training solutions linked to advisory take on the form of coaching.
XOLAS Financial Advisory
Restructuring requires access to additional funding and possibly a change of ownership. XOLAS accepts sell-side as well as buy-side mandates to connect business schools and universities with financial and strategic investors. It can also provide interim management coverage and can facilitate turn-around management and workout processes.
Institutional Benchmarking as a Strategic Tool to Develop Internationalization
October 25 – November 12, 2021, in partnership with AACSB International
Together with Wilfred Mijnhardt, Policy Director at the Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), XOLAS Managing Director Mathias Falkenstein will facilitate an online course on how business schools can use data-analytic benchmarking as a tool to promote internationalization of the institution, degree programs, positioning within recruitment markets, and faculty/student attributes. The course will discuss selection criteria for benchmarking partners, identification of data sources, steps of a comprehensive benchmark analysis, and interpretation of results. The goal is to transform the outcomes of a benchmark analysis into actionable items and link them to the business school’s internationalization strategy.
Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus University is one of Europe’s top-ranked business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future.
Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) and XOLAS have concluded a partnership to guide business schools in meeting their challenges for continuous strategic and organizational improvement. Under the partnership, XOLAS integrates RSM’s StrategyMetrics® benchmarking analysis tool into its services, allowing business schools around the world to develop customized services, using rankings and public data, to clarify their strengths and weaknesses as well as their competitive positioning trajectory.
StrategyMetrics®, together with consulting services provided by XOLAS, allows business schools to take an evidence-based approach to gain a more nuanced understanding of their comparative performance relative to peer institutions on a national and international level as well as in comparison to business schools reflecting their medium- to longer-term strategic ambitions. Using an open-science approach, the RSM/XOLAS service will build customized analytics services that will allow schools to arrive at a more accurate assessment of how change management processes can improve institutional, program, faculty, research and/or student development.
The Global Business School Network (GBSN) is a nonprofit organization that partners with business schools, industry, foundations and aid agencies to improve access to quality, locally relevant management education for the developing world. Within the context of the emerging economies mission, GBSN builds activities, programs and projects that enable the creation of new knowledge, provide meaningful international experiences, and build relationships that can transform management education, as well as provide broad visibility to our member schools as a champion and change maker for economic and social development.
GBSN organizes international events and capacity building programs engage our network members to advise, train and mentor regional educators. And through publication, partnership and speaking opportunities, it advocates for the importance of management education in economic and social development efforts. GBSN’s vision reinforces the central role of business schools to its mission. Efforts to connect them to business, government, and non-profit organizations is viewed as a critical enabler, one that accelerates innovation, augments capabilities, and amplifies impact.
XOLAS collaborates with GBSN on various initiatives that are designed to channel students, scholars, and leaders at business schools into our communities to do work and catalyze innovations that make a difference.
XOLAS has entered into a strategic partnership with Studyportals that involves the cooperation in the areas of data analytics and benchmarking for business schools and universities, which will help these institutions to cope with sector dynamics and to thrive from disruption.
By combining our complementary skill sets, experiences, and respective networks in higher education, XOLAS and the Analytics & Consulting Team of Studyportals have developed a global network of experienced consultants as well as benchmarking tools and dashboards to advise business schools and universities. The partnership will offer strategic support to clients in terms of data-analytic benchmarking which will help them to match their institutional strengths with real-time student interest in international recruitment.
Both partners together provide consultancy services by transforming outcomes of detailed market analyses and into actionable items and linking them to a client’s institutional strategy and decision making.
We at XOLAS consider the collaboration with Studyportals a cornerstone in our strategy to become one of the leading consultancies in the higher education informed by high-end data analytics.
XOLAS is proud member of the world’s largest business education alliance, AACSB International. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) connects educators, students, and businesses to achieve a common goal: to create the next generation of business leaders. Synonymous with the highest standards of excellence since 1916, AACSB International provides quality assurance, business education intelligence, and professional development services to over 1,500 member organizations and more than 785 accredited business schools worldwide.
XOLAS and AACSB International cooperate in the design and delivery of a series of online courses for professional staff at business schools with the first offering delivered in the fourth quarter of 2021.
partners & team
As founding partners, we combine many years of professional experience in higher education and bring a range of complementary competencies to bear when interacting with our clients.
We work with a network of independent consultants and seasoned university executives enabling us to deliver speed and scale when addressing our clients’ needs.
Founder & Managing Director
Mathias Falkenstein has over 20 years of experience in higher education management and consulting universities and business schools around the world in designing and implementing institutional change, with particular focus on issues of sustainability and responsibility; quality management and internationalization. Mathias is a Founder and one of the Managing Directors at XOLAS while he is also a Professor of Practice in Higher Education Management at LUISS Business School, LUISS University (Rome-Milan-Amsterdam), where he develops and leads Executive Education programs for university and business school managers.
Mathias’ previous professional assignments include Director of Business School Services EFMD and Director of International Relations at IÉSEG School of Management in Paris & Lille. He previously was Director of FUBiS, the International Summer University at the Free University in Berlin and started his career in higher education as a Program Officer at the North American headquarters of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in New York. He currently serves in different international advisory boards and is the chair of the Supervisory Board of the Positive Impact Rating.
Mathias holds a DBA in Higher Education Management from the University of Bath (UK), where he is a research fellow at the International Centre for Higher Education Management (ICHEM).
Within XOLAS, Mathias advises clients in their strategic repositioning, quality management, internationalization, and the expansion of sustainability & responsibility coverage. He also contributes to the development of knowledge, training and intelligence solutions.
Ulrich Hommel is an internationally recognized expert of accreditation, quality management, risk management and strategic leadership in higher education, and a prolific writer on business school topics. He has served in various leadership capacities at EFMD over a period of more than 12 years, including Director of Quality Services, Director of Business School Development and Director of Research & Surveys.
Ulrich has completed more than 20 years of service as Professor of Finance at EBS University & Law in Wiesbaden (Germany), which included appointments as Dean, Rector and Managing Director. His academic research focuses on risk management, restructuring and entrepreneurial financing, all topics that mirror his interests in higher education. Ulrich holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and has been awarded a Dr. habil in Business Administration by WHU.
Within XOLAS, Ulrich contributes particularly to the creation of knowledge and intelligence solutions and helps business schools to enhance their risk management capabilities; he develops restructuring solutions for clients and spearheads the development of XOLAS’ financial advisory capabilities.
Fiona Hunter has worked in the global higher education sector for over 30 years in a variety of different academic and management roles. She is now a consultant, trainer and researcher with private, public and faith-based institutions around the world and her work focuses mainly on strategic change and internationalisation of both academic and management processes.
She is also Associate Director at the Centre for Higher Education Internationalisation (CHEI) at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan, Italy, Visiting Tutor at the University of Bath in the UK, member of the International Advisory Board at the Universidad de Granada in Spain, member of the Scientific Council of AVEPRO (Holy See’s Agency for the Evaluation and Promotion of Quality in Ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties) and Co-Editor of the Journal of Studies for International Education (JSIE). With Neil Sparnon, she is co-author of the forthcoming book ‘The Illustrated Guide to Higher Education Management: For New Leaders and New Institutions’. She holds a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Higher Education Management.
Neil’s initial experience was as a programme manager with the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. He joined Anglia Ruskin University as its Director of Research Administration in 1996, holding several positions and culminating in Assistant Registrar. He became a full-time consultant in 2008 in higher education and strategic management and has worked with multiple institutions in Europe, Africa, East Asia, the Middle East and North America. Between 2012 and 2017, he was a member of the academic team for the International Federation of Catholic Universities’ leadership programme offering development to senior institutional leaders. With Fiona Hunter, he is co-author of the forthcoming book ‘The Illustrated Guide to Higher Education Management: For New Leaders and New Institutions’. He holds a PhD in modern UK/US/European studies.
Claire is the Founder of QACE UP and assists HEIs in their quality management and accreditation goals in a constant evolving landscape. She held the position of Quality and International Accreditations Director at emlyon business school (France, Lyon) for years. She also managed teams within the executive education offer (customized programs). Her expertise was also appreciated within the Faculty management team in the recruitment processes and data management. Claire was also teaching French in Australia for a year and English at a master’s level in France. She graduated from the University Lyon III with a Master’s degree and is currently attending an MSc in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at HEC Paris.
Before working in Higher Education, Claire developed her skills in data management and Quality in the medical industry as she was in charge of quality audits (both internal and external ones) and reported to European medicines evaluation agencies. She also worked at euronews to help the distribution of the channel in Eastern countries and clean databases to improve quality services.
Koen Vandenbempt is the Dean of the Faculty of Business and Economics of the University of Antwerp (Belgium) and is furthermore a non-executive director of the Antwerp Management School (Belgium). He has held various leadership positions in the past (among them Associate Dean for Internationalization, Academic Director of the eMBA Program, Chairman of the Department of Management), both at the University of Antwerp and the Antwerp Management School. Koen is also a Visiting Professor at universities and business schools in the USA, Russia and India.
His work focuses on strategic change in organizations (mainly in industrial and technical settings) and in different industry contexts. In this capacity, he often works together with companies on change projects and/or is involved in management training sessions in the context of change. He is and has been involved as an independent director of companies in different industries (IT solution provider to the creative industries; Diamond Certification; Diamond federation; Higher Education).
[Press Release] Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and XOLAS announce partnership for strategic analytics for business schools and universities
The partnership will develop analytics and benchmarking services for institutional development using RSM’s web based StrategyMetrics platform. The partnership aims to enable business schools around the world to master their improvement and development challenges using...
XOLAS cooperates with AACSB International on a series of Online Courses for professional staff at business schools. The initial offer will cover institutional benchmarking as a strategic tool to develop internationalization. Over the past 20 years, we have seen major...
Ulrich Hommel edited a Special Supplement of the EFMD Global Focus Magazine (15/02) on the emerging role of learning ecosystems in the provision of management education. The volume brings together a group of eminent scholars that make the case that business schools...
Ulrich Hommel and Sarah Vaughan published an article in Global Focus – The EFMD Business Magazine (02/15) on the emerging challenges in quality management as business schools are transitioning towards an ecosystem-based modus operandi. The contribution considers three...
Ulrich Hommel serves again as the Director of the EFMD Global’s Fall edition of the Quality Assurance Academy (QAA), a high-level training opportunity for quality assurance professionals in business schools. It is the third round following the inaugural (face-to-face)...
India's New Education Policy (NEP 2020) will have a transformatory influence on India's higher education sector. Ulrich Hommel participated in this webinar to explore with other eminent panelist how HEIs can align their curriculum to this more fundamental departure...
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