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Business professionals in the Global Executive MBA Class of 2025 at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) kicked off their programme in September 2023. The 28 new participants represent 19 different nationalities and are ready to improve their knowledge, skills and attitudes that senior managers need to serve in strategic leadership roles.

The GEMBA Class of 2025 represents a high level of diverse backgrounds. The 28 participants have an average age of 41 years and 18 years of work experience, of which 10 years at management level. This brings a vast variety of different cultural, academic and professional backgrounds to the programme.

After a first day of programme and personal introductions and an engaging workshop that not only focused on skills-development, but also served as an icebreaker opportunity for participants to connect with each other. The rest of the week was dedicated to their Strategic Leadership Development (SLD) journey, a course that continues throughout their GEMBA curriculum.

The SLD course is designed by GEMBA faculty members and guides the programme's participants in the development of competencies, such as knowledge, skills and attitudes that C-level executives need to bring to the table to successfully serve as strategic business leaders.

“Unforgettable experience”

“This transformative first week was orientated around the SLD course. We were challenged in the learning and development, both individually and in teams,” says GEMBA student Peter Drake, director of operations at A.P. Moller - Maersk. “The highlight for me was collaborating with my classmates and faculty on our ‘Leadership Challenge'. It’s an unforgettable experience to deploy teamwork, innovation and ethical problem-solving under extreme time constraints. I’ve left the week clearer on my individual development areas, inspired by my classmates, and with absolute enthusiasm for the next part of GEMBA.”

The Leadership Challenge is a real-life leadership assessment designed to showcase strategic leadership competences, such as visioning skills, communication skills, power of influence, presentation skills, stakeholder management, attitude to ethics and responsibility.

On the final day of the Introduction week, guest speaker Caroline Oosterbaan shared her personal thoughts and experience with the cohort on what is required to become a strategic leader. Oosterbaan has made an impact in various executive leadership, supervisory and advisory roles and she inspired the cohort by talking about her purpose of making a difference as a leader and helping accelerate organisations and people.

Thought-provoking dialogues

“Leadership means making true connections at different levels by offering an open and straightforward dialogue,” said Oosterbaan. “I’ve experienced that creating a joint vision, a common purpose and a sound strategy, taking all stakeholders into account, leads to strong engagement and enables teams to create out-of-the-box solutions for the most challenging organisational situations.”

This message resonates with the professionals in the programme. “This first week of GEMBA was challenging and truly inspiring,” says GEMBA participant Inna Kuzennaya, strategic business unit controller for Europe and Asia at AES Global Power Holdings BV. She added that the thought-provoking discussions, debates and exercises skilfully steered by the faculty members made the group deeply reflect and connect with each other. “Every student had a unique perspective to share which made the learning experience even more powerful. And this is just the start. I look forward to the entire journey ahead!”

Global Executive MBA

RSM’s 21-month, part-time Global Executive MBA programme prepares senior managers who have typically grown through the ranks because of their functional expertise for a strategic role at the C-suite level of their business. The programme serves an observed need for senior managers to develop their knowledge in every strategically relevant functional field at a minimal level of proficiency, while developing their skills and attitudes to serve in a strategic leadership role.

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top-ranked 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 can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers.

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Erika Harriford-McLaren, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

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