OneMBA graduates urged to manage change and talent

Proud family, friends and colleagues of 27 graduates from the Global Executive OneMBA programme at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) celebrated the completion of their studies at an afternoon ceremony on campus on Friday 30 June 2017. The intense part-time MBA programme taught the participants about personal leadership and global business across four continents.


The 27 OneMBA graduates represent nine nationalities, they’re from Belgium, Croatia, Italy, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Singapore, Spain and the USA. Seven of them reside outside of the Netherlands. Their average age is 41, and they have an average of 15 years’ work experience in various industries.

Lead and create value

At their graduation ceremony, RSM Dean Steef van de Velde told the graduates education isn’t all about knowledge, it’s about awareness. “The OneMBA has boosted your knowledge, honed your skills and competencies, and also helped you find your values, meaning and purpose. You’re now in the position to lead and create value. For yourself. And for others.”

The dean said business can play a very important role in solving big world problems. “I trust you see your degree as more than a ticket to a better career and higher income. You’re in a position to make a positive change for yourself, family, friends, your company, society.”

‘Change is a main driver’

“I’m convinced change is one of the main drivers of the graduates in front of me,” started keynote speaker Wouter van der Woerd, member of the executive board of directors at SHV Holdings NV. He shared his experiences with change at SHV, and his ideas about people and talent management.

Van der Woerd said specific events make things more complex and unpredictable, such as new world leaders and terrorism. “We have to manage these changes. You can’t duck and cover. The world population is rapidly growing so there are new consumers. This means we have to develop human capital. Despite innovations such as robots, people are still the key drivers for a sustainable future.”

People management

Talent is difficult to find and more difficult to retain, said Van der Woerd. “Changes ask for new leadership with new insights, new thinking, new methods and a new approach. SHV focuses on finding outstanding management teams. They drive growth and ambition to excellent performance.”

Van der Woerd said the how is a fundament for the what. “People management is a leadership issue on all levels. You can’t delegate this. Put your money where your mouth is.”

He warned ‘not to count too much on the manual’. “What has been written today can be aged tomorrow. Just because you know it all today doesn't mean you can use it all tomorrow.”

Stay connected and take action

Don’t spend too much time in the board room, recommended Van der Woerd. “Stay connected. Do as much as you can with other people. The speed of execution increases every day. The moment you’re in the field, you know what it’s all about.”

He concluded: “You’re the ones to take action with your new insights and new knowledge. This asks for courage. Learn, have fun, and make mistakes every day. Take care of our daily change. You are your future.”

Travelling 69,875 km

Graduates and class representatives Anneke Hunninck and Rick Hof spoke to their classmates and the audience about their OneMBA journey. They also shared a number of statistics about the class and the programme, leading to the amusement of the graduates and audience.

They said that during the programme, the graduates had each read 15,000 pages, studied about 2,000 hours, spent 82 hours in airplanes, visited 7 countries, travelled 69,875 km, and spent 600 hours in classes.

Hunninck and Hof had even used a managerial analyses tool to analyse communication behaviour among RSM OneMBA students and the global OneMBA group – comparing the 10,000 messages and symbols used in the What’s App groups. The most-used symbol was the praying hands emoji.

Reunion in Croatia

Hunninck made a point of thanking their family, friends and colleagues for their support during the programme. Hof added: “We’ve all grown a lot over last two years. There are amazing people in this room who shared their dreams, history and how they want to go forward in life. I look forward to our reunion in Croatia.”

All graduates were handed their diplomas by RSM Dean Steef van de Velde. On the Dean’s honours list are OneMBA graduates Francesca Sagui, business manager at DSM Food Specialties; and Geert van der Zalm, director marketing and pre-sales at Bosch Rexroth.

Afterwards, alumni speaker Peter Brijs (OneMBA 2013) and RSM alumni relations manager Irene Broekmans welcomed the graduates to the OneMBA alumni network and the RSM alumni network.

Graduate Arnold Jongbloed presented a video with scenes from the OneMBA Class of 2017 on four continents – as a memory for his classmates and to show attendees their academic, professional and personal journey. Afterwards, OneMBA director Saskia Treurniet expressed what a privilege it had been for the OneMBA team to work with the graduates over their 21 month-long journey, and recited a poem from artist and book publicist Ming. D. Liu called Who am I, which reiterated that we need others in order to become ourselves.

The graduation ceremony was live streamed for family and friends who were unable to attend. Watch the graduation video, speeches and the Class of 2017 highlights here.

The graduation ceremony concluded with a festive buffet in Maria’s Café on campus.

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top 10 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. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers. Study information and activities for future students, executives and alumni are also organised from the RSM office in Chengdu, China.

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Marianne Schouten, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

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