Putting leadership skills into sailing action at MBA regatta

During the sixth annual RSM MBA Regatta, more than 40 alumni and students from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) and other business schools raced in Olympic-class sailing boats in mixed fleets. The event, organised by the RSM Sailing Club, took place between 27 – 30 August 2015 on the Ijsselmeer and was based in Medemblik, 60 kilometres north of Amsterdam.

“This was one of the best moments of my MBA life,” said RSM MBA student Danilo Alves de Oliviera from Brazil, who is the vice-president of the RSM Sailing club. The RSM MBA Regatta 2015 was his first regatta experience. “The most memorable moment for me was when my crew got the first place in one of the regattas. This is not because of the position itself, but because at that moment we realised that even without previous experience we had learned how to work together, as a real team, and we beat other experienced crews.”

Higher level of sailing

The sixth RSM MBA Regatta, which took place at International Sailing Center Medemblik, raised the level of sailing. Alumni and students from RSM and other top business schools raced in mixed fleets with Elliott boats. These keelboats were also selected for the women's match racing event for the 2012 Olympics in London.

Each crew was expected to participate in 18 races, which included short and fast races. There were two RSM alumni teams, as well as one RSM MBA student team.

Leading and empowering teams

Anna Helena Juenemann rediscovered her passion for sailing during the RSM MBA Regatta 2015. The Brazilian student from the Class of 2016, who is the president of the RSM Sailing Club said she learned a lot in a short period of time. “Sailing is not only about competing, but also about learning with other crews and within your own team,” said Juenemann. She said she used her planning skills for planning to recruit crew members and define their positions in the boat, and for encouraging her team to develop confidence. “I believe leadership is about being a role model. I gave instructions to my team, which they learned really fast. I empowered my team as the skipper of the boat. The skipper is the leader of the team. We created synergy and improved as a crew.”

Participants of the RSM MBA Regatta 2015 represented top business schools, including the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, London Business School, Cranfield University, IE, and Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO.

Managing expectations in diverse teams

Danilo Alves de Oliviera said it was “an amazing opportunity to network with MBA students from other business schools … with all the sailing activities you can meet these people many times throughout the year,” he said. “At the end, we create a community with people from different countries and universities.” As one of the organisers of the event, he said he put his new leadership skills into action by prioritising tasks, managing conflicts, dealing with suppliers, and making decisions. “The main learning from this experience was how to manage expectations and work with different personalities,” said Danilo Alves de Oliviera.

Royal award ceremony

The group of more than 40 international alumni and students sailed in beautiful surroundings, explore the beautiful city of Medemblik, network, enjoy the hospitality of a traditional Clipper or Skûtsje, represent their MBA schools, and invite guests. Ultimately, SKOLKOVO 1 and SKOLKOVO 2 won the first and second place, and the RSM alumni team was placed third. The RSM student team, which had not sailed together prior to this regatta, reached the fifth place.

“It was an amazing event,” said Andreas Savvidis, an alumnus from Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO’s winning team. “It was a beautiful place, and there was top-level referee support. We all had so much fun on and off the water!”

The award ceremony took place after the third day of racing at Kasteel Radboud, a 13th-century castle in Medemblik, followed by a networking dinner and party with music.

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is ranked among Europe’s top-tier business schools for education and among the top three for research. 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 carry their innovative mind set into a sustainable future thanks to a first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes. RSM also has an office in Taipei, Taiwan.

For more information on RSM or on this release, please contact Marianne Schouten, Media & Public Relations Manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

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