From November 2023 to March 2024, we have asked people to tell us about putting their I WILL into action. We are now busy selecting the champions that have shown that they can make their I WILL statements come true in the best way. They will be offered tailored prizes, such as personalised training, acces to courses, mentors and more. 

For more inspiration, read the inspiring stories from the RSM community; we've asked some of those who have already made their I WILL happen to tell us how they did it.

The I WILL Journey

I WILL Journey

The annual I WILL journey is open to the entire RSM community: students, employees, faculty, members and alumni. Are you eager to read more about the 2024 Champions? Read more about them here



What you could win

The champions will be awarded a package consisting of fixed prizes, which are the same for all champions, and tailored prizes.

The fixed prizes are:

  • Publicity: exposure on RSM social media channels, in RSM publications and on the RSM website according to the RSM policy for content distribution, and according to your plan for implementing your idea, and your need to reach a specific network.
  • Pitch trainings: creating a good pitch will help you make your ambition and goals clearer to yourself – and it makes it easier to know how to ask for help and resources. We will make you join an online pitch training session hosted by Pitch Academy and a face to face group training for the group of champions. The training session is run by one of our own previous I WILL Get in the Ring winners Thom Uildriks. He became a Dutch champion in pitching, and is now training students and executives from all kinds of organisations in pitching.
  • A one-hour consult on digital strategy, delivered by Erasmus Enterprise.
  • RSM branded gifts from the RSM Store: an RSM hoodie and a dopper water bottle.

Tailored prizes:

In addition to the fixed prizes, each of the champions will be given a package of benefits based on their needs to further execute activities related to their I WILL statement, and according to the budget and further resources that RSM has allocated for supporting them. Champions will be invited to meet RSM’s Corporate Marketing and Communications department to discuss the content of their tailored package. Details are stated in the rules and regulations. Tailored benefits could be:

  • Mentoring: connect with a mentor from our RSM MentorMe community
  • A course from RSM Executive Education’s open programmes
  • Networking: access to appropriate RSM events, RSM workshops, networking, and seminars
  • A pitchvideo created by Erasmus Enterprise


Rules and regulations

The I WILL Journey is about making people act upon their I WILL statement. A maximum of six ‘champions’ will be chosen who are, according to the I WILL Journey Taskforce (“the Taskforce”), the entries that best show the actions they have taken or plan to take to make their I WILL statement come true.

RSM’s mission statement is to be a force for positive change in the world by being critical, creative, caring and collaborative. When seeking to present the I WILL Journey champions, the Taskforce will base their decision on the following criteria:

  • The I WILL Journey recognises the entrants whose submissions are, according to the Taskforce, a proof of action and contain a clear overview of actions taken, or a plan, for having their I WILL statement put into practice
  • The I WILL Journey prizes will be handed out to the six entrants, one in each below mentioned category, whose I WILL statement and its implementation proves willpower and goal-oriented thinking
  • I WILL Journey entrants are able to demonstrate measurable indicators of success towards the implementation of their I WILL statement
  • I WILL Journey entrants have I WILL statements that have a tangible impact on the world around them – either in their personal life, in academia, business, media, sports, or public services
  • I WILL Journey entrants can clearly convey the ways in which they already worked or will work towards achieving the goals set out by their I WILL statement.

The Taskforce will look for I WILL Journey submissions that:

  1. Clearly demonstrate determination and a pursuit of excellence
  2. Create a tangible and positive impact in the person’s individual life, a society, or a community
  3. Show the themes of I WILL: compassion, teamwork, innovation, proactivity, professionalism, idealism, and ambition
  4. Clearly outline the steps taken or to be taken in putting their I WILL statement into practice and the results
  5. Indicate why the applicant’s I WILL statement is meaningful, both to them and to society.

Choosing these champions will be the sole decision of the I WILL Taskforce, consisting of the (i) I WILL STAR Committee and (ii) a delegation of the I WILL Embassy (the governing body of the I WILL Community). Their decision will be final with no possibility of appeal. The Taskforce will make its final decision in a three-step process:

  1. Read all the submissions and select the three best entries for each of the six categories of participants as mentioned under ‘Entrant categories’.
  2. This shortlist of 18 entries is sent to the entire I WILL Embassy. The Embassy is asked to advise on the top choice per category.
  3. The Taskforce will then determine if there is a top entry for each of the six categories and which one that is. These will be announced the I WILL Journey Champions.

Selection is based on the information in the online submission form, as submitted by the entrant. All members of the I WILL Journey Taskforce and the I WILL Embassy share an equal vote at each step of the selection process. The I WILL Embassy and the Taskforce will treat each submission with utmost care; only those who are involved in decision-making will have access to each applicant’s answers.

Information about champions and their submissions can be used by RSM for marketing and communication purposes. This will include but is not limited to information about the champion as a person, his/her I WILL statement and accompanying I WILL photo, and the initial application to this challenge as well as the Taskforce’s comments on the application. Personal information will only be used after consultation with the persons involved, and no personal information will be shared if a participant objects to the nature or way RSM intends to divulge personal information.

You can apply for one of the six I WILL Journey prizes if you fall into one of these categories:

  • RSM bachelor student
  • RSM pre-master, master or PhD student
  • RSM MBA student or Executive Education participant
  • RSM alumnus who has completed one of the educational courses above
  • Member of RSM EUR/RSM BV professional support staff or faculty member
  • Anyone else related to the RSM community, who has an I WILL photo and statement (for example: corporate relations to RSM, members of RSM’s advisory bodies)

Members of the I WILL Journey Taskforce, the I WILL Embassy and the I WILL Journey organisation (RSM’s staff in the Corporate Marketing and Communications team, contact persons at the partner organisations that offer prizes to the champions) are excluded from participation in the I WILL Journey.

Entrants can only participate in the I WILL Journey as individuals in their own name. An entrant warrants that all information provided is correct and up-to-date.

Your entry should comply with Erasmus University Rotterdam’s code of integrity, that can be found here.

Entrants should complete the online form published on the I WILL website. Entrants can save and repeatedly access their online application form until the submission deadline on Sunday 31 March, 2024. The submission must be accompanied by an attachment of the latest version of the entrant’s official I WILL black and white photo with their I WILL statement as handed out by I WILL after the entrants’ participation in one of the I WILL photoshoots.

All entries must be submitted through the official online form. Only entries submitted and received before or on Sunday 31 March will be judged.

  • The prizes will not be granted if the quality of entries do not meet the requirements as set out in the selection criteria
  • You can only participate with your latest I WILL photo taken. The I WILL statement you will use as the base of your participation in this Journey should be the one that is on your I WILL photo.                                                                

Prizes cannot be shared. One entrant in each category will win the prizes and all further communications with RSM’s Corporate Marketing and Communications Department will be with that entrant.

I WILL Journey Champions

Our I WILL Journey Champions are leading examples of individuals putting an I WILL into action – people who have not only thought through the implementation of their I WILL statement, but who have also put their idea into practice. This initiative celebrates those who embody the spirit of "I WILL" and have made significant strides towards fulfilling their commitment. 

Our Champions are chosen with great consideration. They prove that they are bringing their ambitions into reality through their projects and show a viable path to take their I WILL from concept to pilot to realisation. Their journey reflects personal development and innovation, often closely tied to the world of business and business education, making their ideas and initiatives relevant and impactful. 

As I WILL Journey Champions, our winners receive a benefit package tailored to their needs, ensuring they can further execute the activities related to their I WILL statement. This package includes benefits like mentoring, training, publicity, and entrance to RSM events, fostering an environment that supports their growth and realisation of their "I WILL" journey.


Empowering future leaders with a win-win mindset

Jeroen's journey began in February 2023, when he joined the Mutual Gains Network and committed to taking additional online night classes at Harvard University. His goal was clear: to acquire the tools necessary to teach others and empower future leaders. This decision marked a significant shift in his perspective, from focusing on individual success to creating value for all.

Jeroen's dedication and innovative approach are paving the way for future leaders. His I WILL journey is a testament to the power of education, collaboration and the relentless pursuit of a better, more inclusive world. As he continues to inspire and empower those around him, the impact of Jeroen’s work will undoubtedly resonate for generations to come.

Embracing a win-win mindset transformed Jeroen's approach. He started to actively seek ways to benefit both himself and others, envisioning a world where shared prosperity triumphs over individual enrichment, even within profit-driven systems. Jeroen firmly believes this approach will enhance our world by facilitating faster and more peaceful conflict resolution in both business and politics.

Determined to turn his I WILL vision into reality, Jeroen is establishing a negotiation network for young professionals and university students in their third year and beyond. With ten members initially, the network collaborates on structuring meetings and refining a sustainable format. Jeroen also contributes to an honours class at Leiden University, organising guest lectures, negotiation simulations and coaching promising students for international competitions in negotiation.

Creating an engaging and sustainable network hasn't been without challenges. Balancing valuable learning experiences with maintaining an engaging format has been tricky. Jeroen has leveraged his role within the honours programme to integrate win-win negotiation concepts into the curriculum, inspiring students through practical experiences and success stories of past competition teams.

Tracking progress is crucial. Jeroen aims to reach 50 active members within the first year and wants to double that number in the following year. His goal is for 50% of network events to be member-led within two years, showcasing a thriving and self-sufficient community.

Jeroen envisions a self-sustaining network where members independently organise events and share practical knowledge. His journey embodies the core values of critical thinking, creativity, care and collaboration, inspiring a new generation of leaders who prioritise win-win solutions and mutual gains. 

Empowering social entrepreneurs to scale up their societal impact 

Richa’s I WILL statement, I WILL empower social entrepreneurs to scale up their societal impact, turned into a journey that began a few years ago. Inspired by a profound belief in the power of social entrepreneurship to transform lives in developing countries, Richa started working on educational projects in these contexts. While doing that, she witnessed firsthand the critical need for effective marketing and management skills to generate funds and enhance impact.

Richa’s I WILL journey exemplifies how management education can drive positive social change. By empowering social entrepreneurs, we can create a more equitable and prosperous world. 

Determined to make a difference, Richa utilised her marketing expertise to support social entrepreneurs in emerging economies. Through workshops and training sessions, she helped participants to define their brand identities and develop robust marketing strategies. This ensured that, even with limited resources, participants could communicate their mission effectively and attract the necessary funding to scale their initiatives.

Richa’s commitment to her I WILL statement didn't stop there. She actively raised funds through events and pitched projects to funding agencies, all aimed at empowering entrepreneurs. Additionally, she co-authored a book, with part of the proceeds dedicated to supporting social entrepreneurship. This work has brought Richa immense satisfaction, knowing that her skills are being used for social good and for creating lasting change.

Looking ahead, she plans to forge partnerships with like-minded individuals and organisations to further her I WILL mission. Together, Richa feels that people can amplify the impact of social entrepreneurs who are the true vehicles of change. An action which would directly help marginalised communities.


Making a Difference in Developing Countries 

Gerco has always be interested in helping and caring for others, especially those who lack the means to improve their own lives. This passion led him to Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) to pursue the International Management/CEMS master programme. His study was instrumental in aligning his education with his I WILL statement: I WILL create opportunities for people in developing countries. Gerco has taken significant steps to bring his I WILL statement into reality. 

As a member of the organisation “Vrij in Albanië”, Gerco serves as treasurer. This organisation supports families who have emigrated to Albania by giving them local support when they reach the country. Gerco and his team support each family with communication, finances and fundraising. 

Additionally, Gerco has been instrumental in organising a summer camp for children of refugees from Ethiopia, Eritrea and Ukraine. By providing these children with a memorable experience filled with various activities, Gerco aims to create opportunities for young people who would otherwise be unable to afford a holiday. The summer camp has grown significantly over the years and nowaccommodates more than 30 children, highlighting the necessity of creating opportunities for people in developing countries. 

Gerco's journey continues with his acceptance into the IM/CEMS master programme, starting in September 2023. He plans to gain specific knowledge to become an international manager in a non-profit organisation.  

- Gerco van der Kaaij

Driving change through innovation and collaboration 

Willem's I WILL statement – I WILL keep challenging the ordinary – reflects his commitment to compassion, teamwork, innovation and proactivity. With 10 years of experience as a consultant, trainer and coach, he has helped numerous companies, teams and individuals to overcome challenges. Willem's dedication to challenging the status quo aligns with the mission of Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM). 

In his role as consultant, Willem identifies opportunities for improvement and develops creative solutions that push the boundaries of conventional thinking. He encourages clients to adopt a growth mindset and embrace change, even when it feels uncomfortable or uncertain. As a trainer, he educates individuals on how to improve their work environments, fostering a culture of continuous improvement. 

Willem's commitment to challenging the ordinary extends to his personal life, where he actively seeks out new experiences and opportunities for growth. Whether it's taking on personal challenges like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro bare-chested in swimming shorts or learning new skills, he consistently pushes himself out of his comfort zone. 

Moving forward, Willem aims to tackle increasingly complex challenges and expand his impact by working with organisations that struggle to survive and are in desperate need of change. He plans to explore new ways of creating positive change, to reach and educate more people and to transfer his knowledge to others. Through his Executive MBA studies at RSM, Willem has taken action to deepen his understanding of business strategy and leadership, becoming a thought leader in his field and inspiring others to challenge the ordinary. 

- Willem Heijboer

Empowering creative minds through sustainable entrepreneurship 

Max's journey is driven by a mission to empower creative minds and bridge the gap between financial and artistic interests. With a deep passion for music and a strong background in both finance and the arts, Max has found the perfect avenue to realise his I WILL statement: I WILL close the gap between financial and artistic interests. 

Max's journey began with a deep-rooted passion for music that has accompanied him since his early years. Recognising the challenges that often arise when artistic and financial interests collide within the creative industries, Max made it his mission to empower creative minds and align these interests in a way that maximises benefits for all parties involved. This pursuit became the perfect match between his passion for music and his professional and educational background. 

In 2022, Max took a leap of faith and joined a startup dedicated to helping independent artists succeed in developing sustainable careers. Through their innovative approach, they have supported over 150 artists on their journey. By providing guidance, resources and strategic insights, Max's startup enables these artists to capitalise on their creative talents and build thriving careers within the music industry. 

Max's vision extends beyond music. He aspires to broaden his focus to other creative domains such as visual arts and fashion, embracing a multidimensional approach to his I WILL journey. By incorporating these additional dimensions of creativity, Max aims to create opportunities for artists in various artistic fields, fostering collaboration and cross-pollination of ideas. 

With his partners who share the same vision for the future of the music industry, Max has embarked on the journey of launching their business. Proactively seeking connections and engaging in conversations about the future of the industry, Max found like-minded individuals who joined him in turning their vision into a reality. 

As the  startup continues to grow, Max’s next step is to help scale and transform it into an adaptableand profitable organisation. This entails expanding their operations to other countries and adapting their business model to meet the unique needs of local markets. By extending their reach, Max aims to touch the lives of thousands of artists worldwide, providing them with the tools and support they need to help themselves thrive and capitalise on their own creative talents. Max's commitment to empowercreative minds and close the gap between financial and artistic interests remains unwavering. As he navigates the dynamic landscape of the creative industries, Max envisions a future where artists across various disciplines can realise their full potential and achieve sustainable success. 

- Max van Overdam 

Driving change through advocacy and policy influence 

Rene's I WILL statement – I WILL promote inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace – is deeply personal and rooted in his own experiences as a person born with a visible, physical impairment. The inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace is a cause close to his heart. 

His journey to promote inclusion has been multifaceted, spanning various aspects of his portfolio. In his research, Rene strives to contribute to changing the discourse around disability and inform policies that support inclusivity. Through his teaching as associate professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM), Rene directly influences individuals, helping them understand the importance of creating an inclusive environment for people with disabilities. 

Moreover, Rene actively engages with organisations and policymakers to advocate for changes in hiring practices and to influence economic policies that foster inclusion. He contributes to magazines and newspapers with thought-provoking articles, such as his latest opinion piece in the Financial Times, entitled ‘Business must focus on ability, not disability’. And his involvement in the Young Erasmus Academy and as a board member of the Ministry of Economic Affairs enables Rene to contribute to shaping inclusive practices at both university and national levels. 

Looking forward, Rene's plan is to ensure that the projects he has initiated flourish and deliver on their promises. He aims to make a tangible impact through his research, teaching, engagement, funding initiatives and overall advocacy efforts. By working in collaboration with various stakeholders, Rene strives to create lasting change and to promote the full inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace. 

Rene's personal experience fuels his drive to break down barriers and create a more inclusive society. His dedication to promoting the rights and opportunities of individuals with disabilities serves as a powerful catalyst for change, ensuring that no one is left behind in the pursuit of equal opportunities and meaningful employment. 

- Dr Rene Bakker


Helping to renew a city’s much-needed municipal services 

Hugo grew up in Chiclayo, the fifth most important city in Peru. Because of a severe institutional crisis, there is currently a lack of municipal services, including the much-needed household waste collection and management. This fuelled his RSM I WILL statement. Hugo started preparations for a waste removal pilot project in Chiclayo which included creating a communications channel on Facebook, finding a local business partner with experience in the waste and recycling industry, and running and evaluating a pre-analysis survey – around 300 local participants filled in a 10-question survey. 

The pilot strives to provide not only a consistent garbage collection programme, but also to educate the people on a topic that is not part of the reality in Chiclayo: recycling. Approximately 600 households, roughly 3,000 people, in two of the poorest neighbourhoods in Chiclayo, are expected to participate. After the pilot, the results will be evaluated and a plan will be made to escalate the programme to include more areas in the city. 

"I think that we as citizens of Chiclayo shouldn't wait for the authorities to solve these kinds of problems. On the contrary, we should be change agents. Motivate other citizens to act and solve important issues that are impacting the quality of life."
- Hugo Valdivia

Finding meaning in upcycling  

Climate change and inequality are two prominent injustices going on in the world. Fighting these injustices is at the heart of Benedikt Albertsen’s I WILL statement, and he is actively helping to accomplish that with his fashion start-up SAROWA. 

Environmentally, the fashion industry is one of the dirtiest industries on the planet today. Manufactures buy more fabrics than needed and dump the unused fabrics into landfills. SAROWA takes those discarded fabrics and upcycles them into fun, colourful backpacks, fanny packs and small bags. Repurposing these fabrics is more sustainable than recycling them, as fabric production is extremely resource intensive – e.g., it takes 10,000 litres of water to process just one kilogram of cotton. SAROWA also fights social injustice by offering fair wages to all their employees. To date, SAROWA has upcycled close to half a ton of fabrics! They continue to sell their upcycled products through their website

“I didn’t have a strong working knowledge of the industry or even how to operate a business, but I knew that I needed to make a difference in the world. With SAROWA, I found I could make that difference.” 
- Benedikt Albertsen 

Inspiring stories

There are thousands of good ideas for positive change in the I WILL community. We’ve chosen a few of the most inspiring stories from those who have already made their I WILL happen, and are highlighting them here. These people’s stories tell us how their I WILL statement went from an idea into action, and how they did it.

Diego Martin de Lagarde

Martin de Lagarde's I WILL photo

Zainab Syeda

Zainab Syeda's I WILL photo

Nazly Abd El Rahman

Nazly Abd El Rahman's I WILL statement

Get inspired

Read how others made their I WILL come true