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Joe Oldham

Nationality: Peruvian
Age: 28
Last job title: account manager at Orica in Lima
Previous degree: bachelor in industrial engineering

1. What was the primary reason for you to choose doing an MBA at RSM?

I’ve worked in the consumer goods and mining industries for seven years, and I wanted to shift my career. I’ve always been passionate about the environment, particularly the energy transition. The Netherlands and RSM are a good fit for that challenge. Also, I wanted to move to Europe, closer to the UK where I was born.

2. How would you describe your RSM MBA experience so far?

It’s challenging. I didn’t expect the core courses to be so demanding in time and content. This is a positive experience because I wanted high-quality business education to know what’s needed to run a business effectively. It’s been super useful: from operations management to strategy, and from innovation to marketing. It can be a challenge working with so many different backgrounds and cultures, but it’s a really valuable learning experience because it’s how the real world works.

3. What has been the biggest adjustment for you, while living in the Netherlands?

Being far away from my close circle of friends and family. I’ve been away before, but not for a whole year with the intention of staying in Europe. It’s been hard but I’ve made a lot of great friends here too. These are long-lasting connections. I also miss Peruvian food, but have found some nice restaurants here.

4. What has been the most challenging assignment or course during the MBA?

Most would probably say statistics, but for me it was the Living Management Project. We had the chance to have a hands-on job for a real company. I did a marketing project for food delivery company HelloFresh, so we had to understand consumer behaviour and its effect on sales. None of us had experience with this so it was out of our comfort zone, and we were forced to work in new teams with a diversity of cultures in a short time.

5. In what way has the Personal Leadership Development programme (PLD) affected you?

This is one of the most valuable parts of the MBA. We don’t often take the time to self-reflect, and now you get to do it for a whole year. Through PLD we have the chance to manage our personal development, and what direction you want to go as a leader. You evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, and evaluate each other on how we’ve improved over the course of the programme. This course has helped us understand what we need to be the leaders of tomorrow.

6. If you had to choose one Sustainable Development Goal, which one would you choose?

I’m passionate about the energy transition, so I’m going to say SDG 7: affordable and clean energy. The world is changing dramatically in terms of energy generation. Energy accounts for more than half of global CO2 emissions. It’s important for our future development to work on cleaner and sustainable energies and reach those who don’t have access to it yet.

7. Has your MBA journey changed your outlook on what your career will be like?

The MBA has taught me that there’s not one way of doing things. When I first came, I just wanted to work on the energy transition. But from the courses we’ve had, such as the advanced sustainability course, I understand there are a lot of ways to generate a positive impact. This broadens my scope of opportunities beyond the MBA. If you work at an energy company dealing with renewables or a huge corporation, then a small change can make a bigger positive impact.

8. What advice could you give to people who are considering doing an MBA?

Be open to being challenged. The MBA is an opportunity to learn from others. Some views might be conflicting with your own, so be eager to learn new approaches. I think self-reflection is of key importance during the MBA – so you can be vulnerable and talk about where you’re lagging in skills or personal leadership development. Be clear and honest of what you want out of your MBA. Do you want to change industries, function, or country? Have a clear target, then you’ll get what you want out of it.