RSM OneMBA graduates urged to create industry connections

The Global Executive OneMBA Class of 2015 from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) graduated during a festive ceremony on campus on Friday 19 June 2015. Keynote speaker Prof. Mike Page, who co-created the OneMBA programme, encouraged them to challenge themselves and inspire others to experiment, continue learning and seek intersections across boundaries.

The Global Executive MBA programme is the only truly global executive MBA. Designed by an equal partnership of five of the world’s premier business schools, the prestigious 21-month OneMBA programme includes four global residency weeks, global team-based projects, and an integrated curriculum. The 25 graduates of RSM’s OneMBA Class of 2015 have an average age of 42, and they represent nine nationalities: American, Austrian, Bosnian, British, Canadian, Danish, Dutch, French, and Indian.

International focus

RSM Dean Steef van de Velde welcomed the graduands and audience on campus, and explained that the OneMBA is a special programme because of its international focus and because of the people in it. “You represent diverse backgrounds, and have a shared spirit and shared value to make a difference, not for yourself but for the world at large to build a sustainable future for everyone,” he said. The dean added that the OneMBA is a unique platform to develop skills in business, own value and attitude in this diverse setting. “You all decided to go for it and take the chance. Now, you’re RSM alumni for life. Did you make the right decision?” he asked, after which the graduands exclaimed a loud “Yes!”

Creating intersections

Keynote speaker Professor Mike Page co-created the Global Executive OneMBA programme, which was launched in 2002. Former Dean of RSM MBA programmes, he is currently provost and vice-president for academic affairs at Bentley University in Massachusetts, USA. He presented a word cloud summing up what the graduands have learned, bringing together the concepts of their future success. It included words such as impact, conceptual thinking, collaboration, ethics, innovation, motivation, and creativity. “What it all comes down to is ‘EVA’,” he said, which stands for ‘Encourage Valuable Actions’.

Prof. Page said he started off his career achieving things and telling other to achieve things. “In reality, my career is about innovation and creating interesting intersections.” He explained that he studied engineering, but although he has not practiced it for 30 years, it is still relevant to him. “It’s about understanding and engaging in the process of discovery,” he told the audience. “The most important element of our education is the passion to find answers. This is the part of my engineering degree that’s relevant today, which I didn’t realise at the time.”

Global innovation

Not every innovation needs to be a blockbuster, said Professor Page, who is a top faculty member in the OneMBA programme. “Small ones contribute significantly. Don’t focus on new product development, but on its distribution and other factors. Companies should expect deviations from plans, and employees should be rewarded for improvements and innovations.” The professor repeated that it is important to loosen controls and make connections. “The most technical innovations require strong leaders too. Members of successful innovation teams stick together through the development of the idea.”

It is all about meaningful links and connections, said Prof. Page, explaining that these intersections include idea generators and enablers, research and education, and discovery and application. “We need renewable energy sources and Ebola vaccines. We need innovators. Universities need interaction with enablers: you,” said the professor, adding that this integration should be in every organisation’s culture for things to work in the global market place. “You then continue to renew and change. Innovation is a fundamental responsibility. As graduates, you are such leaders. So, go out, challenge yourself, and inspire others to experiment, continue learning and seek intersections across boundaries.”

Authentic and curious

“I’m impressed with all of you,” said class representative Pamela Koo to her OneMBA classmates and the audience. “I never thought I’d be graduating from this MBA with such an extraordinary group of people.” Koo added that she “started feeling comfortable with feeling uncomfortable” after moving to the Netherlands and joining the programme. She said digital, innovative and political disruptions happen on a daily basis. “We have learned how to deal with this. We have come together and showcased our most authentic selves, and become more curious because of it.”

Eye-opening opportunities

Koo, who recently moved to Munich for her new role as marketing director at technology company NVIDIA, said the programme was an unforgettable experience, and has given opportunities to connect with the other OneMBA business schools through the global residencies. “These relationships are eye-opening and enlightening,” said Koo. “We’ve also been able to utilise our new knowledge within our jobs immediately and lead more effectively.” She concluded her graduation speech by saying that curiosity keeps leading people down new paths. “I can’t wait to see what’s next for all of us. This is only the beginning.”

All graduates received their diploma from Dean Steef van de Velde during a standing ovation from their family, friends, and colleagues in the audience. Three graduates reached a high level of achievement according to examiners, and were on the Dean’s Honours list: Christoph Tamandl, David Rosenberg, and Alex Schoep. Tamandl also received the Dean’s Honours with distinction.

OneMBA alumni

The 25 new graduates are now members of the RSM alumni network of more than 29,000 alumni from RSM’s bachelor, master and MBA programmes, who live and work all over the world. RSM alumni benefit from networking opportunities, lifelong learning, giving back as an ambassador of the school of mentoring students, and staying connected through RSM Outlook magazine and alumni events worldwide.

OneMBA alumni board representative Peter Brijs from RSM’s OneMBA Class of 2013 said the programme felt like “climbing a steep mountain that I could not look beyond. I realised it was almost the end of the programme, but not the end of the journey.”

Lifelong learning

Brijs said OneMBA alumni share a passion for global business and lifelong learning, for example alumni and local chapter events such as the visit to Airbus in Hamburg earlier this year. The next OneMBA global alumni meeting will take place in Washington DC from 24 – 26 September 2015.

The ceremony concluded with a photo slideshow reflecting on RSM’s OneMBA Class of 2015’s highlights, compiled by graduate Lydia Thomas. Under loud applause and a standing ovation from audience, the graduates and their friends and family celebrated the completion of their studies during a French-themed dinner reception in Maria’s Cantina on campus.


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.

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