Daan van der Schroeff

Daan van der Schroeff

Nationality: Dutch
Age: 36
Job title: CB&I Subcontracts Engineer
Previous degree: Bachelor in Electrical Engineering

1. How did you come across the Executive MBA?

After a few years of working in the same department, I started to wonder if this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Something had to change and during an appraisal interview at work, my department head and I came to the conclusion an MBA would be the solution. I went to open days at several business schools in the Netherlands. RSM attracted me the most because of the atmosphere and the type of students that are here. I enjoyed talking to alumni and having classes during the weekend suits me best.

2. How are you managing to balance studying with work?

At the moment, my job isn’t too demanding, although I sometimes have to sacrifice my lunch break to work on assignments. I consider it more of a struggle to find a balance between my personal life and the Executive MBA. Before I started the EMBA, I talked it through with my wife and warned her that I’d have less time for our family. But when I mentioned the opportunities and advantages it would bring, she supported me. RSM even organised an event for partners to tell them about the study load, which really helped to gain her understanding and support.

3. Is having an MBA common in your organisation?

I work for a multinational company, but having an MBA is not really common among colleagues. The majority of the US-based senior management members hold an MBA, but my management in the Netherlands believes in more technical and tailored in-house education. I don’t agree. One of the advantages of an MBA is that it develops a helicopter view on management issues. What I’ve learned in the MBA so far is way beyond what I could have learned in my own company.

4. Have you been able to immediately incorporate your learning into practice?

Yes, I’m now able to judge organisational issues from a different perspective and can apply the theory to real-life situations. For example, we had several classes about the organisational behaviour culture within our own organisation. Several departments in my office have difficulties explaining to the Texas-based head office that certain work processes run differently here. I was able to analyse this issue during an assignment as part of the EMBA and provide my recommendations to our management.

5. What is your contact like with others on the course?

For assignments, my team is in touch three times a week, either through Skype or in person. It’s not just on a professional level though. We also have fun socially, especially during the study trip to Johannesburg. In my company, people aren’t always open to change. People at RSM are very flexible and open to change, new knowledge and experiences. There’s a lot of respect and the intelligence level of RSM’s students is high. We’re constantly challenging each other. Making mistakes is part of the learning process. Also, because people have different backgrounds and work experiences, we learn to see things from different perspectives. It’s also interesting to learn from peers about different industries, such as IT, finance, and engineering.

6. How have you found RSM’s four themes expressed through the EMBA?

  • Sustainability – It’s reflected in the school and faculty, but not so much in the curriculum, which I don’t see as an issue.
  • Innovation – This is a hot topic at RSM. There are many lectures organised about this, and the Career Development Centre organises various guest speakers to cover innovation. In addition, several full-time MBA candidates are now organising a TEDx session about innovation.
  • Critical Thinking – This is a big one too and I really value that. RSM forces you not to take things for granted. Everyone, including professors, is challenging each other to critically process material from the curriculum. Students are constantly challenged to share their opinions, creating discussion and adding their view to the cases we’re covering.
  • Spirit – Everyone is really supportive at RSM. When someone is in a difficult position, their fellow students will support them and help out. We’re not just here for ourselves, but also our team and our fellow students. We really learn from each other and show respect and co-operation. There’s a positive spirit.

7. What has been the best part of the EMBA so far?

I have become inspired by the professors who teach managerial accounting and organisational behaviour. Professors at RSM don’t teach from a book, but after discussing the basics, we share experiences between classmates. The study trip to South Africa was also great. There was a good balance between lectures and company visits. We also got to know our team mates and other students better.

8. What do you envisage for the future?

I’m now in a commercial position, but I want to move to business development. The EMBA teaches me how business works and how to create opportunities. I will be able to contribute these broad views and skills to an organisation. I’ve heard a lot of alumni going into a different direction than they were planning because they were inspired by new courses in RSM’s programme. So everything might change. It’s all very exciting and surprising.