First week of EMBA gets straight into personal leadership development

The transformational experience begins as soon as you step onto campus – and so it was for the 137 participants who began their personal leadership development training in the first week of their Executive MBA programme  (EMBA) at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM). The programme incorporates leadership development for every participant in every element.

The first week of orientation for the 137 international and experienced participants at the start of a 22-month part-time study programme included academic introductions as well as getting to know one another – because they will work closely together in teams for many of their projects and assignments. The part-time programme also enables them to continue working in their existing jobs alongside their studies, and they can put their new skills and knowledge into practice in their work. The week’s activities included a long reading list to get through, lectures, and a team building exercise that included drumming, as well as the personal leadership development sessions. 

The cohort have an average of nine-and-a-half-years of working experience, and the average age is 34. They will graduate in 2020. They come from a wide variety of educational backgrounds – business and economics, engineering, law, medicine – and work in industries including automotive, energy and utilities, financial services, manufacturing, retail, travel and transportation.

Dean Steef van de Velde welcomed them to campus, and MBA Director Ann Van Dam and EMBA Academic Director Prof. Tom Mom introduced the programme.

More than half of the class are internationals – just 43 per cent are native Dutch. They have 25 nationalities between them, and although the majority are based in the Netherlands, some will be commuting for their weekend study sessions on campus from Brussels, Hamburg, Helsinki, Frankfurt, Munich, Paris and Warsaw.

Widened perspectives

Olli Pyylampi, Delivery Manager at Neste Engineering Solutions in Rotterdam said he was looking forward to studying with classmates and absorbing as much as possible from their experience. “At the same time I can learn more about myself and widen my perspective,” he said.

Intellectual – and like yoga

Investment Officer at Proparco Fabrice Mpollo, who is based in Paris, said the Personal Leadership Development (PLD) sessions were ‘an eye-opener’. He said the professors managed to get the best out of the whole class, and the experience was ‘a mixture of a highly intellectual experience and a yoga class.’ He added that he was delighted his cohort was such a diverse group of people – that was one of the reasons he chose the EMBA at RSM. He was looking forward to being transformed by the learning experience, personally, socially and professionally.

Critical thinking and teamwork

Over the next few months, the participants will become accustomed to spending Fridays and weekends in Rotterdam as they begin to add an understanding of global business and more knowledge and skills to their existing management experience. In the first year they study analytical and critical thinking skills with course work and team-based projects. In the second year, they explore leadership. Each semester has a distinctive theme, and classes are is constantly updated to reflect new global business trends.

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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