Van Oord leaders reveal to bachelor students how to create success

In five guest lectures by dredging and marine contractors Van Oord, first-year bachelor students from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) learned about the real business world. Speakers from various departments within the multinational company spoke to the 900 students about marketing, HRM, strategy, and what it’s like to be a CEO. The lecture series took place on campus in September and October 2017.

The compulsory course is part of the first-year curriculum in RSM’s Dutch-taught BSc in Business Administration (Bedrijfskunde) programme. The objective of these so-called ‘CEO guest lectures’ is to add real-life business examples to the theoretical lectures.

Daily life as a CEO

Bachelor student Tal Lavi says the Van Oord sessions were a beneficial part of the programme. “This was a great opportunity to look inside such a big multinational company and learn how it functions and has developed over time.” The first-year student added all speakers together formed a clear view of the complexity in the international business world, while explaining how they can deal with it effectively.

Van Oord’s CEO Pieter van Oord shared the daily aspects of what it’s like to be a CEO, and how to deal with complex organisations, strategy, and find the right people. The CEO also addressed the importance of a balanced lifestyle to be able to succeed in anything you do.

The next level

Lavi: “The CEO gave us really valuable advice on what's essential to focus on to bring yourself, others and the whole business up to the next level or even to the top.” The student added the class learned that there are some major characteristics of companies and their boards that make them able to succeed worldwide. “Curiosity to learn, and the surroundings, honesty, self-awareness and mutual trust are examples of things I've noticed to be very important during the session.”

In another lecture Van Oord’s director of personnel and organisation John Knoester spoke to the 900 bachelor students about Van Oord’s global projects, which include dredging, offshore oil and gas, offshore wind, and marine ingenuity.

Chief operating officer (COO) Paul Verheul discussed Van Oord’s operations, supply chain and sustainability. He also talked about two of the company’s current projects: the Second Suez Canal and the Gemini Offshore Wind Park.

Family business

The human resource management (HRM) side of the multinational was covered by Govert van Oord, area director Europe. He shared statistics about family businesses, the history and governance of Van Oord, and how the company’s values are incorporated in its HRM policy.

“I found this family-business lecture to be one of the most interesting ones. It was about how Van Oord is able to maintain a ‘family identity’ as a big international organisation,” said Lavi.

The students explored Van Oord’s marketing strategy with the company’s head of corporate communication and markets, Robert de Bruin. He talked about Van Oord’s brand, value proposition and how to contribute to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Combining theory and practice

As part of the course Inleiding Bedrijfskunde (introduction to business administration), multinational companies have provided such business lectures since 2001. The guest lectures feature a different multinational company every year. For example, speakers from Royal Vopak discussed global business issues with the first-year bachelor students in 2016. And RSM students learned about business practices at Unilever the year before.

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

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