MBA students create value through innovation for SABIC

Students from the International Full-time MBA programme at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) were challenged to develop innovative solutions for SABIC, one of the one of the world’s leading manufacturers of chemicals, fertilizers, plastics and metals. 

The SABIC Innovation Challenge aimed to develop innovative solutions for SABIC’s customers. The MBA teams from RSM were challenged to create unique value for the company’s more than one thousand customers’ overlapping expectations, opportunities and challenges to gain competitive advantage.

Sharifah Shahrizad Syed Mustaffa, a Malaysian student in RSM’s MBA Class of 2016, says she was thrilled to have proposed a solution to a real business problem for one of the world's largest petrochemical manufacturers. “We based our idea on our team members’ work experiences from four different industries, and turned all our ideas into one workable solution.”

Combining knowledge and experience

At the finals in April 2015, RSM’s MBA students combined their critical thinking, rich industry experience, sound academic knowledge, creativity and problem-solving skills to tackle the challenge at SABIC’s Innovative Plastics plant in Bergen Op Zoom, the Netherlands. Participants were divided in four teams: Beyond Excellence, The Fast and Furious 4, Concept Crew, and Open Sesame. During the SABIC Innovation Challenge, SABIC’s web marketing manager Martin Mayr, an alumnus from RSM’s Executive MBA Class of 2014, co-ordinated and supported the MBA teams.

The winning team, Beyond Excellence, included MBA participants Budi Hakiki Martias, Fahimah Noor Ngah, Purvi Jha, and Sharifah Shahrizad Syed Mustaffa. They each received a recommendation letter by SABIC’s commercial director Stephan Eltink, and an exclusive SABIC Certificate of Excellence signed by the organisation's vice-president of sales, Eric Hogenboom.

Meeting objectives

Purvia Jha, an Indian MBA student at RSM, said her team's cohesion and connection with their solution made them stand out from the other teams. “Our team’s idea was easily implementable, and utilised resources from within the company that had proven to be successful in the other sectors.” Purvia Jha added that it was a great learning experience. “We hope that our team's idea is taken to another level by SABIC, that it fully functions and meets SABIC’s objectives.”

Solving management problems

The MBA students say the competition gave them the opportunity to experience working under pressure. “The time constraint while solving a management problem was a challenge,” said Sharifah Shahrizad Syed Mustaffa, adding that she also learned the added value of sharing experience and knowledge. “We got to learn from each other during the whole process, not just from our team but from other teams as well.”

SABIC (Saudi Basic Industries Corporation) is one of the one of the world’s leading manufacturers of chemicals, fertilizers, plastics and metals. It operates in more than 45 countries, with 40,000 employees around the world, providing innovative material solutions that help its customers change the world. 

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.

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

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