OneMBA graduates set to drive change

Family members, friends and colleagues of 31 graduates of the Global Executive OneMBA programme at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) celebrated the completion of their studies on campus on Friday 24 June 2016. The Class of 2016’s graduation ceremony included presentations by data scientist Scott Mongeau (OneMBA alumnus) and graduate Michael de Visser, followed by a festive graduation dinner.

There was a standing ovation when the 31 graduating OneMBA participants entered the room. Together, they have an average age of 41 and represent 11 nationalities; they’re from Costa Rica, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Uganda, the UK, and Uzbekistan. The professionals have an average of 18.5 years’ work experience. Graduates’ family and friends who couldn’t make it to Rotterdam could watch the graduation ceremony online.

New challenges

“You now have a better skillset, networks and career opportunities,” said Prof. Eric Waarts, dean degree programmes at RSM, adding how unique this programme really is. “You’re all very international, as is the programme, and work together to find your way to a new chapter in your lives. You have a drive to change the world, your companies, and yourselves.”

Scott Mongeau (OneMBA 2011) spoke to the graduates about constant change and new challenges he deals with as an international data analytics expert at SAS Institute such as cyber attacks and the UK EU referendum, of which the results had come in that morning. “Some things are bigger than us. We have to learn how to deal with change.”

Opportunities and risks

Mongeau reflected on the OneMBA and looked forward. “Rotterdam is a modern and forward-thinking city of renewal and constant change,” he said. “Keep dreaming and seeing innovations in the world. As a technologist, I can say technology also has a dark side. It can disrupt the work place. Managers take opportunities but also risks with these technologies. Always look to transform,” he said, adding that for every negative there’s a positive.”

Mongeau said people often make assumptions and this can have profound effects. “Instead of achieving development goals, we can end up with chaos and confusion. That’s where leadership sits – we need to make the right decisions.” He said leaders must really understand followers, and share their knowledge and ideas.

Great transformations

Michael de Visser, class representative of the Class of 2016 and global head of shipping and intermodal at NIBC Bank, spoke to the audience about the OneMBA experience including the Personal Leadership Development programme, the global residency in Washington DC, and learning how to cope with different cultures. “We fell in obvious traps, learned how to create value, analysed balance sheets, and played with Lego to solve business problems.” 

It’s not the company who comes with ideas, it’s the people, said De Visser. “By sharing our ideas, we experienced great transformations. The diversity of our network is proving itself. Vulnerability and trust are necessary to bring our relationships to the next level.” De Visser said he feels like the class “lived in a cocoon for 21 months”, and thanked the graduates’ family and friends for being so flexible.

“Don’t see this graduation as the end,” said De Visser. “We’ll still need each other’s support to achieve goals. After this programme, walking in the supermarket will never be the same. We’re now world champions!”

Dean’s Honours

Graduates from RSM’s OneMBA Class of 2016 took the stage to receive their degrees and officially become alumni of RSM. Among the OneMBA graduates, examiners found that two showed an exceptionally high level of achievement. On the Dean’s Honours list are Sébastien Flageollet, a transitioning air force officer from France, and Cornelis Knijnsberg, a Dutch consultant and senior manager.

Sébastien Flageollet also graduated with a special distinction. “As I take this piece of paper, I don't see achievements but new beginnings,” said Flageollet. “I feel humble of what I still need to learn, and feel responsible to give back to society. If it wasn’t for society we wouldn’t be here today.”

“Don’t stop learning”

Alumni relations manager Meta Mikec welcomed the graduates to the RSM alumni network. She told the network’s newest members about upcoming Local Chapter events, the RSM Leadership Summit in October, and RSM’s promise of lifelong learning.

“Just because you graduated today, doesn’t mean you stop learning. You can stay connected with your fellow alumni and benefit from lifelong learning,” said Mikec.

A new phase

The 31 executives are now members of RSM’s alumni community, as well as the OneMBA alumni community. Peter Brijs (OneMBA 2013), RSM board representative of the OneMBA Alumni Association, said he enjoyed seeing the class change as a group and as individuals. “This is a milestone: you’ve grown as human beings and global citizens. It’s not the end of a journey but the start of a new phase.” Brijs added that the alumni network, which has 360 alumni from RSM alone, can help graduates find the right person for new opportunities. He encouraged the executives to join the OneMBA alumni event in Mexico City on 10-12 November 2016.

“I’m not the person I was 21 months ago because of you,” said Dutch OneMBA graduate Barbara van Schuppen, owner of Barbara van Schuppen marketing and communications and marketing strategist at Efteling. Van Schuppen introduced a video she compiled of photos and interviews capturing the Class of 2016’s OneMBA journey, including inspiring, stressful and funny moments.

The event concluded with a celebratory French-flavoured dinner in Maria’s Café on campus.

Global Executive OneMBA

The Global Executive OneMBA 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 programme includes four global residency weeks, global team-based projects, and an integrated curriculum.

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s leading business schools, 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 Chengdu, China, and 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

Alumni , Companies , Executive education , Homepage , International , Newsroom , MBA