Dr Meir Shemla won the CEMS Global Management Practice Course of the Year award for the course Global Leadership at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM). The course, which is part of RSM’s MSc International Management / CEMS programme, equips students with the knowledge and skills to manage people across borders and within multinational teams, creating culturally savvy individuals that show empathy and can relate to and interact with different cultures.

RSM’s Global Leadership course, taught by Prof. Meir Shemla, won the CEMS Course of the Year Award, because it was rated most highly by students among 34 business schools in the CEMS network. “This recognition carries wide visibility within a true global flagship programme. It is a truly great experience for CEMS students,” says RSM’s Dean Ansgar Richter.

Exploring personal behaviour

The Global Leadership course in RSM’s CEMS curriculum equips students with the knowledge and skills to manage people across borders and within diverse teams, creating culturally savvy managers.  The main question the course aims to tackle is: how do you lead people who are different from yourself?

“While the students learn to answer this question in terms of organisational strategy and team management, the course takes a unique approach in that it heavily focuses on practicing the learnings in the personal lives of the students,” says Dr Meir Shemla.

Shemla adds that the cornerstone of the course is the Immersion Experience, which requires students to experiment with different behavioural strategies when interacting with people or groups with whom they feel least comfortable or most opposed to, in terms of values, ideology and personality. “Before immersing themselves with the chosen group, the students built a concrete plan to help guide their behaviour during the immersion period. This approach, in which students show a great deal of vulnerability, helps them think about their own patterns of behaviours and thoughts, and requires them to implement the course learning in their own lives,” says Dr Shemla.

Digging deep

CEMS students are known to be incredibly ambitious, curious, and hard working. Still, Dr Shemla says his CEMS students often underestimate the extent to which they are alike and the difficulties they may face when working with people who have a different set of values, skills and lifestyles.

“What I have found most useful is to put the students themselves – their lives and personal relationships – at the heart of this course. By encouraging students to implement the learnings in their own lives, forcing them out of their comfort zone, we have truly managed to move the needle. Real development occurs when students face conflicts, dilemmas and discomfort.”

In the review of the course, the RSM CEMS students mentioned that they most appreciated the fact that the course is built upon the notion that the application of theoretical learnings must take into account the specific characteristics of the applying manager. In other words, the starting point of the course is understanding how your personality, values and beliefs influence your ability to lead others. The process of personalizing the learnings of the theory required the students to dig deep into their strengths and weaknesses and show a great deal of vulnerability in front of others.


CEMS is a global alliance of leading business schools, multinational companies and NGOs jointly delivering a master in management programme that prepares future generations of responsible leaders. The network consists of leading business schoolsmultinational companies and NGOs that together offer the CEMS Master in International Management.

RSM has been a member of CEMS since 1989, and RSM’s MSc International Management/CEMS programme was ranked 5th worldwide in the Financial Times Masters in Management ranking 2021.

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top-ranked business schools. 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 can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers. www.rsm.nl

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Erika Harriford-McLaren, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at harriford@rsm.nl.

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