Roberta De Lorentiis

Roberta De Lorentiis

Nationality: Italian
Age: 33
Job title: Sales manager at Tradin Organic Agriculture BV, a SunOpta company
Previous degree: MSc in International Economics, University of Trieste

1. How did you come across the Executive MBA?

Doing an MBA is a natural step for someone who studied business or economics. I wanted to spread my environment and I think it’s normal that at a certain moment, you want to go back to school. Many around me already had an MBA. For me, the moment had come too. I never thought about quitting my job for a year, it was always going to be an Executive MBA for me.

2. How are you managing to balance studying with work?

This is the challenging part. I studied international economics, so many things aren’t brand new. But it’s about refreshing the knowledge and being able to meet responsibilities and deadlines. My job also requires my full attention at certain times of the year. A lot of things go on at the same time, at RSM and at work. I’m lucky that people at my company are flexible and understanding.

3. Is having an MBA common in your organisation?

Tradin Organic Agriculture BV isn’t a big company, but we’re growing a lot. Many people that have worked there for around five years have done an MBA programme, are currently enrolled in one, or have gone back to school for another degree. A colleague who had a similar role to mine had done an MBA at RSM and recommended it.

4. Have you been able to immediately incorporate your learning into practice?

I started the EMBA at the right moment. There’s a perfect match between what I learn and the possibility to incorporate it into practice. I see that subjects such as organisational behaviour are giving me a different perspective when I look at my own organisation. This semester we’re working on finance and learn about evaluation investments for companies. I’m in a team within my company in which we’re doing exactly this.

5. What is your contact like with others on the course?

This is the best part of the EMBA. I was a bit afraid and had little expectations. Why would you be in your thirties and spend so many weekends in class? But my classmates aren’t boring at all, but very interesting actually. We share ideas and questions. I’ve made a lot of friends. They’ve enriched me so much.

6. How have you found RSM’s four themes expressed through the EMBA?

  • Sustainability: I work as a trader of organic foods. It’s interesting to sit in class with people who work for chemical or petroleum companies and share ideas about what sustainability is. I plan to choose an elective about sustainability later on.
  • Innovation: The way most professors teach is very innovative. Most universities are very theoretical. RSM has attractive ways of presenting topics, such as business cases. I work in a small company and now have an idea of what big companies are doing. I’m getting a first bite of what is out there, also from experiences of others in my class and how they deal with certain issues.
  • Critical Thinking: I’m becoming more extrovert and confident. I can express myself more during EMBA classes and therefore at work too. The professors make you challenge cases and even themselves. You start with the knowledge from the book. The next step is to become critical.
  • Spirit: The RSM experience is a combination of classmates, faculty and staff. There’s the classmates’ commitment and at the same time it’s a social environment. I also feel extremely lucky with the professors. All of this is a huge privilege.

7. What has been the best part of the EMBA so far?

The people I met. I’ve really made some friends for life. Many will be significant to me, on personal and professional level. The human side of the programme is giving me a lot, whether it’s teamwork or what we’re able to share in class. It’s a good learning experience as we get close to different personalities and expertise.

8. What do you envisage for the future?

I don’t want to change my job, as I enjoy it and I want to stay with my company. It’s growing and I need to keep up to speed to be part of this process. I’m learning the skills to keep on doing what I’m doing, but better and possibly at a different level. I will meet my responsibilities in a spectacular way. As a person, you make the difference.