Growing sector welcomes customs and supply chain master graduates

A graduation ceremony last week marked the first successful cohort of graduates from a unique executive master programme that brought together professionals from governments, international trade and business. The first 17 graduates from the Executive MSc in Customs Supply Chain Compliance (MScCSCC) at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) were congratulated by the General Director of the Customs Administration of the Netherlands, Aly van Berckel-van de Langemheen.

Aly van Berckel-van de Langemheen said she was very happy to see the business sector investing in this important field of knowledge, bringing together legislation, supply chain management and IT and compliance. She previously met the new graduates in 2015 when they embarked on their studies in the two-and-a-half year executive master programme.

She also congratulated RSM for establishing the new master programme and enabling it to gain its NVAO accreditation. “This gives us a solid base for the long term. The need for this multi-disciplinary programme was clear and its quality is top of the bill.” RSM’s executive master programme is one of a several ‘next-generation’ customs education programmes in the Netherlands. Others are taking place at Fontys University of Applied Sciences and other education institutions. “This proves that the study [of customs] is slowly finding solid ground in our supply chain: the visibility of trade barriers and customs – and unhampered logistics ‒ are essential,” she commented.

Constant challenges

The class of 2017 comprises multidisciplinary professionals from Dutch and Belgian customs organisations as well as companies and businesses. Professor Rob Zuidwijk, Academic Director of the programme, said the master degree is an achievement to be proud of because it brings together three pillars – legislation, logistics, and IT and compliance. “Customs and the industries around it constantly face new challenges such as Brexit and the demands of e-commerce,” he said. “It needs professionals with an academic career behind them to rewrite the handbooks. With so many different actors in the supply chain, they need to be multidisciplinary.”

‘In need of your expertise’

Dutch Douane’s Aly van Berckel-van de Langemheen said the prospect of the UK leaving the EU was one of the big changes on the horizon; such changes had happened before when the EU’s internal borders were abolished in 1993, “But we need to do it again; for health products and agricultural products. We need customs and compliance experience for all the small enterprises with no experiences of it; we need it to align business and government processes. We are urgently in need of your expertise,” she told the graduates. “I want you to be in the right place to prepare for our future challenges.”

The graduates all completed a master thesis, and the General Director has briefly reviewed those written by employees of the Douane. She described them as a solid ‘and sometimes critical’ view of the ministry’s way of working. Insights from the theses written would be shared with a wider group of staff, and perhaps also colleagues from customs organisations in other countries and the European Commission.

The next challenge will be more internationalisation – more co-operations with more universities in Europe, she said. “Physical distance is not the issue. I expect that providing this programme in other languages in other member states will raise interest all over the EU.”

‘We need good people’

Willem Heeren, chairman of executive board of TKI Dinalog, the Dutch Institute for Advanced Logistics, spoke to the new graduates. Dinalog provided 24 scholarships with a total value of €120,000 to participants in the first cohort of the programme.

Heeren described the logistics industry in the Netherlands as responsible for € 55 billion or 9 per cent of the Netherlands’ gross domestic product (GDP) every year. It’s an enormous sector, employing 900 000 people. “We require more educated people – not all of them are warehouse order pickers and truck drivers,” he said. The increased complexity and continuous changes in the logistics industry such as e-commerce, sustainability and new distribution concepts require educated professionals. The Netherlands is a top performer for international trade. Customs and supply chain compliance are key element of its success, backed by the sector’s high standards of IT and education. “It's a key part of the top performance of the logistics sector,” he said. “Open innovation, quality research and human capital and the public-private approach to new challenges, are essential. We need to share results and we need good people.”

Dinalog is happy that the MScCSCC will support the development of more customs professionals in the future; Dinalog’s own roadmap prepares the sector to deal with societal challenges, trade compliance – especially for e-commerce, border management and the impact of the Union Customs Code (UCC) to modernise customs.

As the graduates’ diplomas were handed out, programme director Professor Yao-Hua Tan described each candidate’s achievements; two students graduated Cum Laude; Eggo Bert Smid and Richard van 't Hof.

The research master theses have already resulted in new customs innovations being applied in the student’s own organisations. Several theses addressed e-commerce topics. Another thesis on the subject of the circular economy, closed loop supply chains and customs “is something that needs more research. This is a proactive consideration of societal impact,” said Professor Tan.

The Executive MSc in Customs Supply Chain Compliance (MScCSCC) includes 11 modules in Rotterdam over two and a half years. RSM also offers a shorter Diploma Programme in Customs and Supply Chain Compliance, with nine days of classes spread over nine months.

More information

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

Alumni , Companies , Executive education , Homepage , Newsroom , Master , Technology and operations management , China , Positive change