Personal touch for Corporate Communications master graduation ceremony

There was a personal message for each one of the professionals graduating from the Part-time Executive MSc in Corporate Communication (MCC) at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) at a ceremony in November. Academic director Professor Joep Cornelissen addressed those who came to receive their diplomas, making the ceremony very personal and moving.

The nine graduates – who have completed the part-time master programme alongside doing their own jobs – represent six nationalities: Dutch, Irish, Italian, Polish, and Swiss-Turkish. They work for a broad range of industries, and employers include TenneT, Hospital Bernhoven, Vodafone Netherlands, Jumbo Maritime, Banca d’Italia, Arskom Group & Enklawa Kobiet, Soroptimist Europe, and Ilona Wielemaker Communicatie.

RSM’s Dean Steef van de Velde, opened the ceremony by introducing the new leadership team for RSM's Corporate Communication Centre. Executive director of RSM’s MCC, Marijke Baumann welcomed the graduates, and told them it is ‘not an easy journey’ to combine work and family life with studying and writing an academically sound master thesis based on a large amount of reading and research. They should be proud of their accomplishments, she said.

Guest speaker was Dennis Larsen, a Corporate Communication alumnus from 2003, now a partner at reputation consultancy firm ReputationInc. He gave the new graduates tips from renowned Chief Communications Officers (CCOs) including Sean O’Neill, former chief corporate relations officer for Heineken and RSM alumni Sytske Seijffert, director of public affairs at Tata Steel Europe and Dailah Nihot, managing director of corporate relations at financial firm NN Group.

Speak the language of business

Dailah Nihot told the graduates that the valuable professional friendships they made throughout the programme with fellow students and professors would continue to be a great career asset. Sytske Seijffert advised them to ‘know the business! Speak the language of the business’ and to build a broader view by understanding the balance sheet. “Move beyond a traditional corporate communication focus,” she told the graduates.

Andreas Award

MCC 2017 graduate Dr Francesco Lovecchio was presented with the Andreas Award for innovation in corporate communication for his thesis The effects of polarisation and uncertainty on the reputation of public sector organisations. In their comments, the judges said Dr Lovecchio used his extensive expertise in economics to develop an innovative economic model on the formation of the reputation of organisations in the public sector; an area of study with little existing literature, and one in which the reputations of public sector organisations have been treated similarly to private sector ones, assuming that the way they form their reputations is the same. Lovecchio examined how the reputations of public and private organisations are formed in different ways, concluding that public sector organisations should strive for very high transparency to reduce uncertainty, and dialogue among stakeholders should aim to increase agreement on the organisation’s goals.

Prof. Cees van Riel Award for Impact and Excellence in Corporate Communication

This new prize was presented for the first time in 2017. The first winner is Fedde Heijmans for his thesis Visions and Reflections: How CEOs and their executive leadership team play an increasingly important role in driving strategic communication. The judges commented that he had integrated theoretical ideas from strategy, corporate communication and leadership research to conceptualise how CEOs and their senior leadership team shape the communication strategy of their organisations and what infrastructure they have put in place to support strategic communication, and commended his literature review of a core strategic question as ‘impressive’. Fedde had sourced and researched three case studies with highly reputable Dutch corporations, interviewing their CEOs and senior leaders, resulting in findings that are of ‘great academic and practical value’. “It turns out that in each of the cases you studied, the communication strategy is clearly led from the very top, from the CEO, who embodies and owns the strategy and communicates about it and lives it on a day-to-day basis. In all three cases, the corporate communication team also offered strategic support to the CEO and the tools and techniques to help him or her be effective in strategy and leadership communication,” they said.

RSM’s Executive Foundation Course in Corporate Communication 22-25 January 2018 is now open for applications. It presents the latest developments, insights, and models in corporate communication and business administration from RSM professor and guest speakers, and teaches participants how to use corporate communications to achieve business goals.

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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