Sonja van Staveren

Programme manager Executive MBA

Department: MBA degree programmes
Working at RSM since: 2007
Nationality: South African

Sonja Van Staveren

Why did you choose to work at RSM?

“I took a sabbatical from my job in South Africa, and a friend who was already working at RSM told me of a maternity cover at RSM for exactly that time period. I was lucky enough to get the position. I was then offered another maternity cover period and ended up staying on for 12 years.”

What has been your highlight of working here so far?

“The interaction with students and staff is the most invigorating, frustrating, amusing, annoying, wonderful thing about working at RSM. Our students come from so many different nationalities, cultures, ethnicities, and I always learn something new about our world through them. My colleagues are equally amazing, which is why I think that so many people stay at RSM for so long – it’s a very special place.”

Where did you work before?

“I worked for the South African police service. It’s a long, complicated story but I mainly worked in HR, designing training and short courses. I was also responsible for the in-house high school, which enabled many staff to obtain their high school qualification. South Africa has a very poor history of education, especially in the black community, so many police personnel didn’t go to school past the age of 12. This was one way of helping them to obtain a school leaving certificate that would enable them to study further in higher education. So, in that respect, I am continuing my previous job just in another part of the world.”

What are your interests outside of RSM?

“History, photography and reading. My first study was in history, and I recently completed my master in education. I love learning, and always find new books or articles to read on subjects like science (popular and science fiction), psychology, culture and history. I’m passionate about photography, especially wildlife photography, and always make a plan to visit a nature reserve or park whenever I travel to ‘get my fix’.”

What opportunities have you had at RSM that could have only happened here?

“I have a passion for education, and RSM supported me while I studied part-time for my master in education. Having this degree has helped my personal and professional development, making me a better programme manager. I believe in that everyone has the right to receive the best education they can get, irrespective of all the obstacles that religion, culture, race, gender, and poverty may place in their way. Also, attending study tours is part of my role. I have learned so many new things, and have been exposed to new ways of thinking and experiences. Let’s just say, I could never again be the person that I was before I came to RSM.”


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