Alumni share candid expat stories from the Middle East

‘How can you navigate a successful career in the Middle East?’ was explored by almost 40 alumni from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) and other participants at an exciting alumni event at Address Montgomerie in Dubai recently. They discussed the insights and benefits of working in this area, and what they can do to enhance the skill sets and experience gained there.

Through a panel discussion, presentations and social activities, the alumni explored how to best work with specialised recruiters in the area, and how to best prepare for finding opportunities. They also showed great recognition towards the value of the network and benefits of being involved with the Local Chapter Dubai.

Career development

The event was opened by alumnus Jeroen Reyes (Full-time MBA 2000), who is the chapter leader, and by Hans Sandee, Consul-general for the Netherlands in the United Arab Emirates. RSM Dean Steef van de Velde then shared updates about the school.

The introduction was followed by a panel discussion. Claire Swann, managing director at boutique recruitment consultancy Trigon Associates Middle East, spoke about her experiences as a recruitment consultant. She described several case studies of people she has met in the region and how can you can best benefit from them.

Alumni learned more perspectives about expats in the region and what that means for local talents and regional development from Hisham Darwish, regional HR leader Middle East and Pakistan at IBM.

Staying open-minded in economic uncertainty

In the panel, RSM alumnus Eric de Clercq (Executive MBA 2006) talked about this role as customer satisfaction lead at Signify (previously known as Philips Lighting), and what it’s like to have a successful career as a European business school alumnus working in the Middle East.

The panel members and the other alumni discussed the economy and employment in the Middle East. Some said that in this time of economic uncertainty in the region, people should stay open-minded about career opportunities in other parts of the world too.

Food for thought

At the same time, dealing with so many cultures in the Middle East significantly enhances expats’ skill sets. This experience with diversity helps to boost careers. But the panel members also agreed that the longer expats stay in the UAE, the more difficult it will be for their families to re-adjust when moving back home.

The panel, which was moderated by RSM’s Director of Corporate & Alumni Relations Sue Martin, gave the alumni some ‘food for thought’ for their long-term career planning.

The presentations and panel discussions concluded with lively networking drinks.

Local Chapter Dubai

The almost 40 participants were mainly alumni from RSM’s International Full-time MBA, Executive MBA, BSc International Business Administration, various MSc programmes and RSM Executive Education programmes. Some alumni guests joined from other schools of Erasmus University Rotterdam.

The event was organised by RSM’s Alumni Relations Office and members of the Local Chapter Dubai: Jeroen Reyes (Full-time MBA 2000), Hari Pandiyat (Full-time MBA 2009), Erwin van Helden (Executive MBA 2009), and Eric de Clercq (Executive MBA 2006).

There will be an exclusive journal of the alumni event in Dubai in the winter 2018 issue of RSM’s corporate alumni magazine RSM Outlook.

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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