Occupation: Supply Chain Manager, Seara Meats BV in the Netherlands
For my first two years in the Netherlands I was getting acquainted with my job, but I always had it in mind to do an MBA. I had considered studying full-time earlier in my career, but in recent years I established my role as a supply chain manager for Seara Meats, part of a very big group with 90,000 employees on five continents. Studying full time was not an option for me.
I chose to study an EMBA at RSM because of its rankings, its reputation, and the emphasis on developing leadership. I am particularly motivated to gain insights and tools to become more effective in dealing with the complexity of organisational behaviour, negotiations, and change management. Technical skills in finance, operations and marketing are thoroughly covered in the programme but I really wanted to learn ‘broader’ skills. I’m already acting as a leader in my job but I’m learning how to be more effective in multicultural settings and on a bigger scale. At RSM I have the best balance between work and personal needs and I enjoy being in school and having face-to-face interactions with my peers.
I hope the EMBA will prepare me for managing larger groups of people, and improve my negotiating skills for general management positions so I can move around the company. I’m already leading a group of seven people and I have worked in different departments such as finance, planning and sales. I would really like to have a broader perspective, particularly for those ‘soft skills’ such as human behaviour and negotiating. I want to be able to climb the next steps in the organisational ladder, to manage bigger operations and to be ready to manage any kind of operation in a multicultural setting.
I have been through the mergers and acquisitions process twice. You don’t change your job, but all the political settings change, and you have be aware of the changes and react accordingly to the new power dynamics. It means that even though you’re still working for the same company you have to build up the trust and your career all over again with the new owner. It’s a new challenge to prove that I’m the right person for the job each time.
I am aware of my weaknesses and limitations and RSM has been helping me to find out what can I do to close the gaps and better exploit my strengths. In the last three years I have begun to exert leadership in a more formal way, but I feel I have to a long way to go; there is still lots to learn about leadership on a larger scale and running a bigger operation in the future.
I’m using the EMBA as a way to prepare for the future and speed up my professional development. The first six months has been brilliant. I have spent six years in the same industry, so I want perspectives from different industries, which I can now experience from peer students. So far, the MBA is broadening my horizons and changing how I think about situations and changing the mental model that I’ve been working with.
RSM provides the opportunity to learn from each other in the class, as well from the professors. When you are dealing with peers, there is no hierarchical structure and you can have really frank learning interactions; there’s no need to be cautious. There are about 47 in my class, of many different nationalities. The group spent a whole semester together on assignments and because there was no hierarchy we were really free to make our points and negotiate leadership. Sometimes one took the lead, sometimes another. That was good. In a company situation you sometimes have to step back and let others lead and I have learned how to be more sensitive to when others should do the leading.
Exploring theories in my assignments means I can apply new concepts as soon as I get back in the office; for example after studying organisational behaviour, I can see how we can make changes to our budget process and close the gap to make it more efficient for next year.
The Personal Leadership Development (PLD) thread really helps by bringing very practical insights. It acts as a mirror that shows what you are and how to get to know yourself to become a more effective leader. It’s a brilliant course; it makes us more assertive about human nature and organisational behaviour.
Anyone considering the EMBA should do a careful self-assessment. You’ll need to dedicate two years of your time and energy, and you’ll need the support of your family at home because you’ll be studying for between 15-20 hours a week in addition to coming in to school.
But those will be two very interesting and challenging years and you’ll get a good feeling when you complete your team assignments, and when you’re really learning from great professors in the classroom. It’s an A-class academic environment here at RSM and the network of peers that you acquire is very valuable. The international study trips, the programme’s worldwide accreditations and the multicultural classroom are all widely recognised as sound management experience applicable to every executive position. I’m finding it very rewarding.