Rotterdam school of Management, Erasmus University compact logo

Diana Alvarez

Nationality: Colombian
Age: 35
Job title: Senior innovation project manager at Cargill
Previous degree: Professional doctorate in engineering (PDEng) bioprocess engineering design at Delft University of Technology


1. Why did you choose to go back to school for an MBA?

“I work as integrated project manager with different teams and disciplines and I'm a bioprocess engineer myself. I recently transitioned from a technical role to my current role and I realized the need to grow my soft skills to be able to lead and influence teams. I want to do this right, so want to keep growing in my career to a more managerial role. I chose RSM because of its great reputation in a good location.”

2. How is the Executive MBA preparing you to do business in a world in motion?

“We learn to understand how business is run. RSM’s holistic approach to be a force for positive change means it’s not purely about business and economically sound decisions. We learn elements that work best for strategy and the environment. I want to be part of change and become the best people manager I can be in the future.”

3. What is the RSM MBA culture like?

“It’s really open and friendly. I love the amazing people in my leadership team. We’re all from different backgrounds, but we all support each other and we’re super motivated. I get insights into how non-profit organisations work, and how to give opportunities to more people. It’s been challenging in terms of workload but so rewarding with my leadership team.”

4. What has been the most challenging assignment or course so far?

“I have a passion for education and have a technical background, so the topics, case studies and discussions at RSM are really new to me and very interesting. The complexity now is the time commitment. There’s a lot to do, but my approach is to learn as much as possible.”

5. What impact does the Personal Leadership Development (PLD) component of the programme have on you?

“Becoming a leader is something you can grow into. There are different types of leaders, and there are different opportunities for people. We do a lot of reflection about this. What is a leader? How do I make leadership decisions? How do they compare to models that have been taught? Am I doing things correctly? It’s all about understanding myself as a person and what kind of leader I want to become.”

6. What is the highlight of the curriculum for you?

“I’m looking forward to the in-company project. This will give me the opportunity to put my new knowledge into practice in a different setting. I’m also excited about sustainability-related course work. I get the technological side, but don’t know yet how to apply it in business.”

7. How do you plan to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals through business – now and in the future?

“I want to contribute to one of the major challenges our society is facing by leading projects towards reducing our environmental impact. My I WILL statement is: I WILL use my talents to nourish the world in a more sustainable way. We have a lot of ideas and want to be part of the front seat to make a meaningful difference, for example by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

8. How is an EMBA from RSM setting you apart from your colleagues and peers?

“The Executive MBA will give me an extra layer of understanding of we’re working on, in addition to the chemical, biochemical and technical knowledge. I will see things from different perspectives: is it profitable, is it desirable, is it feasible from technical point of view, and what’s the impact of our projects? I want to figure out how this translates to our mission at company level. I will have a bigger understanding of what we are doing and why we’re doing it.”

9. What does the future hold for you?

“There’s a need for leaders to understand technical decisions. Maybe I can grow more into the business on the strategic side. I can utilise the business perspective from the Executive MBA together with my technical skills. I’ve been in the Netherlands for 11 years now, but might change geographies, for example by moving to Asia to see how my career can evolve. My partner is also in one of RSM’s MBAs. We want to be outside of our comfort zone – the RSM MBA is a good foundation for that.”