Nicolas Constantinesco

Subject: Living Management Project (Full-time MBA)

Bio: Nicolas Constantinesco is visiting faculty and consults at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, where he teaches business management and professional development. Nicolas spent 4 years at the KLM/Northwest Airlines joint venture, after which he earned his MBA at the University of Chicago.  Upon graduating Nicolas joined McKinsey & Company, where he spent 8 years working on a wide range of corporate finance, strategy and operations engagements.  Nicolas later joined KPMG where he co-founded and built the Operations Strategy Group, a team of 40 management consultants. At McKinsey and KPMG Nicolas’ responsibilities also included leadership of recruitment and professional development. Today, in addition to his teaching at RSM, Nicolas works extensively with business students throughout Europe on their professional development and is building a startup in the travel area.

Can you describe your teaching experience at RSM so far?

“I like to think of myself as a “friend of RSM”.  My relationship with RSM started in 2011 when I came to recruit for KPMG, and in the past years I’ve had the privilege to play a growing role on the front end; I am lead faculty of the Living Management Project in the Full- time MBA programme, where I have also taught modules on problem solving and Personal Leadership Development (PLD).  Beyond the MBA, I also teach courses for various MSc programmes on self-marketing, i.e. how to tell your story when networking and recruiting; and finally I also teach an open programme on Storytelling for Executive Education. Beyond teaching I do some work on the back end as well, where I try to bring some perspectives from my US MBA experience to support the work on alumni strategy, corporate relations strategy, and career services”  

Can you tell us more about the Living Management Project (LMP)?  

“This year is the first year I am the lead faculty for the Living Management Project. The name of the project says a lot already; the whole idea of Living Management is that you learn the most through experience: you learn by doing, and you learn by reflecting. That is the whole philosophy underpinning LMP.  At its core, the full-time MBA students work in teams on live cases for real companies, and they have 3 weeks to develop recommendations on rather thorny business problems - that is the “doing” part  In addition, we have injected a whole series of team and individual exercises, designed to help students reflect on the totality of the experience and adopt a broader perspective of “performance”; to go beyond the “it” dimension of objective performance to the “we” dimension in terms of building relationships, and the “I” dimension in terms of self-awareness and personal growth.”  

What exactly is your role within the Living Management Project?  

“As lead faculty, I’m responsible for the design of the course.  I spent several months working with a wide range of people from the MBA programme building on what was already there to further refine a concept that, I hope, provides both an enjoyable and deep learning experience for students.  In addition, throughout the duration of the course, I play a “consultant” role on the content side to the teams: I help them with the problem solving aspects of the challenges they’re working to resolve.  Now, in addition to the problem solving, we ask students to spend significant time reflecting.  This is where the coaches come in: they orchestrate the reflection, read the learning lots and conduct team reflection meetings with students as part of the course. LMP is hugely demanding for everyone involved, and I personally love it. I love working on business problems, I love to coach the students and see them grow; it’s a very rewarding experience. I also see Living Management as a key vehicle to create an alumni culture; if the students can have deep, and meaningful experiences in LMP and build strong relationships, it will impact their overall experience and memory of the MBA.  That, in turn, can help develop proud and loyal alumni.  So my secret aspiration is to put the Living Management Project not just on the RSM map, but also on the European map.  When people think of the RSM MBA, I want them to immediately think of LMP, I want them to know that LMP is one of the things that makes the RSM MBA this distinctive.”    

Do you like travelling? What is your favourite travel destination?  

“I love travelling! I get the thrills exploring places with poor infrastructure and very few tourists, places that feel like new frontiers. And I love places that challenge the stereotypes that I hold and govern (limit) my world view.  For example I absolutely adored Kyrgyzstan: in addition to the breath taking nature and snow-capped peaks, I was swarmed by what felt like a kaleidoscope of cultural markers: locals’ facial traits reminded me of East Asia, their Muslim background reminded me of the Middle East, and the infrastructure was Russian/Soviet.  It didn’t make sense, which is why I loved it. Nevertheless, it’s very difficult to single out a specific destination.  In fact, with perhaps 1 or 2 exceptions, I have been deeply impressed by every single city I have ever visited.”  

What is your favourite book?  

“Just like movies or foods, it’s always difficult to select one book above all others.  That said, one book I especially appreciate is “How will you measure your life?” by Clayton Christensen, who teaches innovation at Harvard Business School. I picked it up in an airport on my way to a sailing vacation and I spent the first few days of my holiday completely immersed in the book.  Christensen’s business, academic and personal accomplishments speak for themselves, so having an opportunity to “spend” several hours with the man as he shared some very personal reflections was truly precious.  In the end, I think it’s this book that finally gave me the impetus and courage to make the leap beyond consulting. So I think I am here at RSM today partly thanks to this book. It’s another rendition about finding your own voice and following your heart, and it’s crafted in terms that strongly resonated with me by someone I have huge admiration for.”