Vopak executives discuss global business issues with RSM bachelor students

Executives from Royal Vopak discussed business issues with around 700 students from the BSc in Business Administration (Bedrijfskunde) at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) in September and October 2016. In a series of five guest lectures, including a session by Vopak’s CEO Eelco Hoekstra, the students explored topics such as digital innovation, B2B sales in the petrochemical sector, and human resource management in a global company .

Inleiding bedrijfskunde (introduction to business administration) is a compulsory course in the first-year curriculum in RSM’s Dutch-taught bachelor bedrijfskunde programme. The guest lectures, which were attended by about 700 bachelor students, feature a different multinational company every year.

Digital innovation

In the first lecture of the 2016 guest lecture series, the RSM students were introduced to global multinational tank storage company Vopak by Walter Moone, managing director Vopak terminals Botlek, and Anil Acardag, investor relations officer. During the second session, Vopak’s director of digital innovation Mark Noordhoek and innovation manager Nataly Katan presented how Vopak is continuing the journey towards increased sustainability and efficiency with IT innovation and the industrial Internet of Things. 

Global leadership

Vopak’s Stella Zerbo, global leadership development manager, and Maarten Vaags, manager training recruitment and development, spoke to the bachelor students about human resource management. They particularly focused on how you can ensure that an international company has one way of working around the globe.

‘Sea of changes’

The topic of the fourth session was sales. Ismail Mahmud, global director chemicals at Vopak, discussed sales for a B2B company in the petrochemical sector, and how to build and maintain customer relations. He also explained the influence of oil price on sales and the petrochemical industry in Rotterdam.

Ultimately, the students learned from CEO Eelco Hoekstra how he aims to steer Vopak through ‘seas of changes’ to make it for the next generation.

Combining theory and practice

With this guest lecture series, RSM adds real business practice to the management theory students learn in the classroom - so first-year students learn first-hand how companies really work. Previously, multinationals including Unilever, Philips, TUI Nederland, ING, KPN, Royal DSM, Shell, AkzoNobel, Randstad, Ahold, ING, NS, RET and Sanoma have presented their best practices and real-life business matters to RSM’s bachelor students during this Inleiding Bedrijfskunde course of the BSc in Business Administration/Bedrijfskunde programme.

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s leading research-based 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 carry their innovative mindset into a sustainable future thanks to a first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes. 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, Media & Public Relations Manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

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