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Alumni explore diversity during leadership weekend in Germany

Around 30 alumni from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) who are based in Germany, Switzerland and Austria travelled to the Local Chapter Germany’s second annual leadership weekend in Munich on 17-19 April 2015. In addition to networking with peers, the alumni attended sessions and workshops about the benefits and challenges of diversity in organisations.



The alumni from RSM’s bachelor, master and MBA programmes travelled from Germany, Switzerland and Austria to attend the Local Chapter Germany’s Leadership Weekend 2015. They represented 15 nationalities, recreating the international experience they remembered from their studies at RSM, whether graduating in 1995 or in 2015.

For Nadia Eremina, a Russian alumna from RSM’s International Full-time MBA (2010) who now lives in Munich, it was the second time she attended the chapter’s leadership weekend. “It’s an escape from the daily routine, refreshes our minds and gains us new knowledge, while taking part in thought-provoking discussions, meeting new people and simply spending a great time with RSM alumni again,” she said, adding that she enjoyed the mix of presentations and social activities.

Leadership and diversity

The leadership weekend started at Weisses Bräuhaus in Munich on Friday 17 April, where alumni networked over traditional Bavarian dishes and drinks. Saturday’s activities focused on leadership and diversity, and took place at GE Healthcare Germany in Munich. Guest speakers from RSM and companies such as Siemens and General Electric (GE) shared valuable perspectives on various aspects of diversity and what is needed from business leaders.

GE’s Managing Director Europe Project and Sales Finance, Dr Mihaela Seidl, told participants how she experienced diversity in a leading position – as a woman and a foreigner. “Sometimes you win. Sometimes you learn,” said Dr Seidl, while emphasising the benefits of diversity and how to leverage on it.

Back-to-school experience

Dr Meir Shemla from RSM’s Department of Organisation and Personnel Management led a workshop about the dimensions of diversity. Dr Shemla explained diversity in teams from an organisational perspective. This workshop setting with practical exercises in small teams created a back-to-school experience for the RSM alumni. 

A session about decoding talent in companies in transition was led by Rosa Riera, Siemens’ Head of Employee Brand and Diversity. She explained how diversity plays a part in employer branding, and what challenges this brings to organisations.

Diversity consultant Albert Kehrer, worked in various big companies before becoming a diversity coach, spoke to the alumni about unconscious biases and how to deal with them without influencing day-to-day business activities and hiring processes.

Unconscious biases

In addition to feeling the RSM spirit, Matthias Ruttmann, a German alumnus from RSM’s MSc in International Management/CEMS (2002) said the leadership weekend “helped me to keep my eyes wide open" when speeding through day-to-day business life, particularly the sessions about unconscious biases and diversity in teams. “This is applicable in my day-to-day management life: when setting up teams and hiring new personnel,” said Ruttmann. “It also created awareness about how biased I might be myself and how that could unwillingly influence team and company structure.”

Eremina: “I learned that, despite the fact that our time requires organisations to shift towards diversity in respect to gender, nationalities and languages, not all companies are really ready to do it.” She added that companies must prepare managers to deal with the challenges of diversity, and to create supportive atmosphere and processes. “Because many firms do not really hire or prepare such managers, diversity might shift from a benefit to harm,” she said, adding that before forming diverse teams, companies must ensure that it can leverage their potential on a management level.

After the inspiring sessions, the alumni attended a formal three-course dinner in the popular Greek restaurant Kalypso. The leadership weekend concluded with a networking breakfast and guided tour through ancient sculpture museum Glyptothek in Munich on Sunday 19 April.

Local Chapter Germany

The Leadership Weekend 2015 was organised by Claudia Schneider (BSc in International Business Administration 2009 and MScBA Strategic Management 2010), Katharina Holch (International Full-time MBA 2010) and Markus Lodensträter (International Full-time MBA 2013) from the Local Chapter Germany. Meta Mikec, Alumni Relations Officer at RSM, was impressed with the connections that were established among such a diverse group of alumni. “These alumni did a great job organising the event and finding high-quality speakers,” she said. “We look forward to further co-operate with our excellent faculty members for lifelong learning opportunities for RSM alumni worldwide.”

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 29,000 members through Local Chapters and Clubs worldwide. For more information about the Local Chapter Germany, please email alumni-germany@rsm.nl

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is a top tier European business school and ranked among the top three for research. 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 carry their innovative mindset into a sustainable future thanks to a first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes. RSM also has offices in the Amsterdam Zuidas business district and in Taipei, Taiwan. www.rsm.nl

For more information on RSM or on this release, please contact Marianne Schouten, Media & Public Relations Manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at mschouten@rsm.nl.

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