Alumni explore goal-setting towards sustainable careers

Learning new cooking skills was only one of the highlights for alumni from various programmes at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) who had gathered in Munich to reconnect, meet new people, and develop their critical thinking around thought-leadership in business. The leadership weekend in Germany, which took place 8-10 June 2018, was themed around building a successful and sustainable career, and how to stay competitive and grow skill sets.

More than 30 alumni from RSM’s MBA, BSc IBA and MSc programmes as well as some alumni guests from other top business schools such as ESADE travelled to Munich from cities in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and the Netherlands.

“It was great to meet alumni and speakers working in different industries and see their perspectives about managing a sustainable career, and to catch up with classmates that I hadn't seen since graduating,” said alumna Dana Ion (MSc Accounting & Control 2013), who works at European Central Bank in Frankfurt.

Continuous education

After a social dinner on Friday 8 June, the conference took place at GE Healthcare Germany the following day. The alumni learned from academics, dived into real-life case studies, and participated in practical workshops and exercises.

“Continuous education should be in the blood of any self-respecting person, irrespective of industry, position, interest, age or gender,” says alumnus Emil Adigyozalov (Executive MBA 2011), who is head of global marketing excellence at Philips Lighting in Amsterdam. “Even our favourite new and shiny car gets older over time, and I don’t want to allow myself to become an outdated car.”

Strengths and limitations

Academic speaker Prof. Michaéla Schippers presented RSM’s goal-setting programme and its success in the bachelor programme. The alumni completed some exercises and discussed goal-setting in teams.

Alumni also learned from business angel Martin Giese that “pure performance does not directly lead to career progression.” Giese, who is a negotiation and digitalisation expert, talked about his range of corporate roles and how at every point of his life he focused on his strengths and limitations.

Body language in business

Thomas Mannmeusel, Chief Information Officer at Webasto AG, shared his career in sustainability and the circumstantial steps he took to get there. He used the analogy that you have to play the cards you’re dealt – and not wait for four aces. Mannmeusel told alumni they will have an opportunity to draw a new card from time to time, and emphasised how much the people around us matter.

And in a hands-on workshop, executive coach and behavioural trainer Karsta Holch taught participants how to be authentic and use body language in business.

Unconventional career paths

Alumnus Emil Adigyozalov said joining RSM’s Alumni Leadership Weekend was stimulating from multiple perspectives. “It was all about meeting amazing people, learning new theory from experienced professionals, and having a lot of fun in the city. And I’ve now experienced how goal-setting can trigger my own thoughts and even re-evaluate my long established goals.”

He added it was eye-opening to discover the speakers’ unconventional career paths that still lead to outstanding results and achievements.

Strong alumni chapter

As part of the event, RSM’s new director of corporate and alumni relations, Sue Martin, also presented an update from the school, as well as her vision for the alumni relations, mentioning engagement opportunities and receiving feedback from the alumni.

“I really enjoyed the warmth and affinity for both RSM and each other,” Martin said. “Clearly there were some great existing friendships and the creation of some wonderful new ones. The incredible work of the Munich chapter is a wonderful example of what a strong alumni chapter can achieve.”

Martin added that this sort of event provides a great opportunity for alumni to continue to bond with each other and to learn from academics and sector experts long after they have graduated. “And it’s fun too!” she concluded.

The conference day concluded with a cooking workshop at Bilou Kitchen. On Sunday 10 June, the alumni had brunch at Brenner Grill, and then enjoyed a private city tour of Munich.

Local Chapter Germany

This fifth edition of the Alumni Leadership Weekend in Germany was organised by alumni Claudia Schneider (BScIBA 2009 and MScBA Strategic Management 2010), Katharina Holch (FT MBA 2010), and Markus Lodensträter (FT MBA 2013) from the Local Chapter Germany.

There are many ways for alumni to stay connected to RSM, and attend networking events, benefit from lifelong learning opportunities and be a part of RSM’s global alumni network of more than 36,000 members through Local Chapters worldwide. For more information about the Local Chapter Germany, please email

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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