Study and year of graduation: MSc Business Administration 2010
Job title: Senior associate
What are the most valuable skills that you took from your education at RSM?
I learned how to deal with different people in a competitive environment. Our class had about 60 students who had very international backgrounds. Each student brought her own perspective and expectations towards teamwork. The first two modules were completed with a competitive group presentation, where the entire class voted for the best group. It was interesting to see how my own group behaved and how others did, in terms of selling themselves and in terms of voting. In another module, we had to distribute our own grades within our group. Within our team, different views on fairness and individual performance started to emerge, and we had to find creative ways to reach a conclusion that everyone could agree with. Towards the end I was confronted with competition for jobs, having previously always gotten a job I really wanted. I applied for P&G’s leadership summit, a one-week event in Geneva, where they could only send one person from the Netherlands. I didn’t get in, which was a tough but important learning, becoming more aware of my strengths and the strengths of others in a specific situation. It helped me navigate future competitive situations, such as getting into strategy consulting or pitching for my start-up.
What was your most memorable moment at RSM?
My fondest memory, apart from meeting my wife, is graduation. I had already moved back to Switzerland and was planning to fly in the night before, but my flight got cancelled and I had to take a 10-hour train to Rotterdam. The next morning, my parents and a good handful of my best friends accompanied me to the room where I had to present and defend my thesis. It was the first time I took single ownership of a theory and had to stand up against challenges from more senior people. Having people close to me around to celebrate the victory was the highlight. I realised that the great moments in life are only great because we can share them with others. In my subsequent professional decisions, I have always kept this in mind and made my choices accordingly. We closed the graduation with an extended lunch at a nice place near the harbour, and ordered a good bottle of wine. I tasted it and the waiter filled all the glasses. After the toast, my mother complained that the wine was corked, and all the glasses had to be exchanged with the waiter complaining. And I understood that my learning wouldn’t end here.
How would your former classmates describe you?
It most likely depends on whom you ask. I guess most would agree that I asked a lot of questions. I wouldn’t see myself as an obnoxious class participant, but I can’t sit in a lecture without saying at least one thing, otherwise my brain just shuts down. My wife, who also went to RSM, said that I make stuff seem simple. We had to deliver a lot of written reports, and it was often my task to edit the sophisticated models of my classmates into concise language. Most of my classmates wouldn’t say this but only my better friends: I also liked to cook and have people over for dinner. I had my own place, which allowed me to be more independent, but also meant I had to be more pro-active in inviting people as I wasn’t part of the typical international student community. It’s a tradition I’ve been continuing since, as having a glass of wine is a great way of getting to know each other better and building lifelong relationships.
How do you stay connected to the school and what do you gain from it?
My biggest connection to the school are my close friends I’ve made during that year. It’s great to see how each of us goes his or her own path, growing in life both professionally and personally. We share the same educational base, a common mindset how we view the world and approach problems. That makes it extremely rewarding to keep in touch, even though we live in different countries and it takes quite some effort to stay connected. When I’m about to make important decisions and I get to challenge my thoughts with someone who has some distance but whose opinion I can fully trust. To me this is extremely valuable.
What is your greatest passion in life?
I am passionate about digital innovation. Already in my childhood I created my first venture, selling a self-made IT system to the school library. At RSM I delivered two web projects, for a professor and for a student club, which was the starting point for my own digital marketing agency. What excites me about technology is that it changes lives profoundly. Because I wanted to be shaping that change, I started my career in a strategic function in the industry and subsequently transitioned to strategy consulting, where I help large businesses succeed in their own transformations. Meanwhile, I’ve continued growing my business. A bit over a year ago we launched our own product, WRIO Keyboard, a smartphone app that transforms the keyboard and helps people type faster and without errors. It’s great to see over 30,000 people using our product and being very happy with it. Although it’s only a small piece of the global puzzle, people touch their phone keyboards hundreds of times every day, and improving that experience is a great start to shaping the world around me.
What is your ‘I WILL’?
"I WILL delight the world."