Currently: EMBA participant and Department Manager, Crisis Management - Nassau Versicherungen (German Branch Office of Nassau Verzekeringen)
“What I am really learning on the EMBA is how to connect. To be a good manager, you have to have all-around knowledge and all-around experience; the thing I’m learning here at RSM is really to connect my own nature, my way of being, and my social path with other important skills. Knowing how to structure a company or department, how to make a business plan, how to do statistical work and then put everything together in one piece – that’s what is needed to have success in executive positions”
What attracted you to the RSM EMBA above other programmes?
I thought for many years about doing an MBA. My first priority was to find a high-ranked university, and because I work for a Dutch company, to look within The Netherlands. Rotterdam School of Management has one of the best reputations of European business schools; it is one of the few schools with the triple crown accreditation, and the quality of the MBA programmes are known to be very good. Further, the insurance company I work for is headquartered in Rotterdam, so by taking my EMBA at RSM I can very easily link my work and study environments. I travel from Germany to Rotterdam on Thursdays, work until Friday at noon, and then go to RSM.
Do you think the international composition of the class is significant?
How does it affect and enrich your study? I’m Portuguese living in Germany for 19 years now, my wife is French and my company is headquartered in The Netherlands, so I already felt very open to learning new cultures and mastering new environments. In fact I am looking forward to taking this step again – In the course of my future career at Nassau I would love to get more and more involved in the development of further European countries (e.g. Spain) and increase Nassau’s brand awareness.
Still the 17 different nationalities in the EMBA are quite amazing. The main point is that people from different cultures and with different educational backgrounds have diverse ways to face and resolve certain situations. If you have a problem, a German participant would look at it differently than someone from India, China, or Portugal. This is very important to me, and it does enrich my studies. Exposure to many different ideas and visions allows me to be more open-minded; particularly in my case, because my career has been very focused on the insurance business. So I have the opportunity in the EMBA to learn from those working in other industries.
Your company is supporting you in your EMBA studies – what benefit do they expect from your participation on the EMBA?
Nassau is a company that is developing a lot, and because I started doing more and more management activities, they gave me the opportunity to do my EMBA. If they hadn’t encouraged me, I don’t know how I would have been able to do the programme. Their support is more than financial – sometimes I have to take time to prepare for an assignment, and they support me in that as well. I’m really very happy with the situation.
Having said that, what do they expect? There isn’t a pre-defined ‘goalpost’ I have to reach; they appreciate my way of working and the development I’ve shown within the company over the past 6 years, and want to help me personally and professionally. They expect that I’ll stay with the company and apply my MBA experience and skills in order to be able to help the company manage future changes as our business environment becomes more and more complex.
Are you already using things that you’ve learned on the EMBA programme?
I notice that my way of thinking is changing, although that is more of a process than a ‘step’. I am more critical in my thought processes. The structure of my thinking is changing. In a subtle way, the knowledge and experiences I gain in class and through reading and assignments are something I’m using…so I’d say the EMBA is shifting my way of being. But I have the feeling I’m just in the start of fitting a puzzle together – I’ve started putting some pieces together, and I’m sure during the period I’m on the EMBA, all the pieces will fall into place.
What I am really learning on the EMBA is how to connect. To be a good manager, you have to have all-around knowledge and all-around experience; the thing I’m learning here at RSM is really to connect my own nature, my way of being, and my social path with other important skills. Knowing how to structure a company or department, how to make a business plan, how to do statistical work and then put everything together in one piece – that’s what is needed to have success in executive positions.
What do you think of the study trips?
In the first week of July we were in South Africa for our first study trip. It was a great experience. It was, to be honest, very concentrated – out of 6 days we spent 4.5 in class, and there was a lot of theoretical information, and then the experiential information we got from visiting the townships. It is amazing to see how close wealth and unbelievable poverty can be. You’re in a business district, then if you walk 3 or 4 kilometres away you are in a township and people are fighting to survive, just to have something to eat. Amazing to see the historical and apartheid issues first hand. When people respect and believe in each other, you can move mountains. It can change lives. This makes me really believe even more deeply, that the human being and our relationship to other human beings should be our main focus.
Who is the RSM EMBA for?
I see the EMBA as a high quality study made for executives or prospective executives who would like to be equipped in a manageable time with brand new academic and practical insights. You get this from the many teachers who come from all over the world to bring the newest and best insights to each one of us doing the programme – and you get the ability to adapt these insights into the everlasting changes in the world of business.
In a normal university programme, you get a basic level of knowledge. The EMBA is above and beyond everything that you have already acquired in your basic education; it’s very compressed, and you learn techniques to help you keep informed and continually develop your knowledge and way of thinking in future.
The EMBA has taught me to be myself, to trust myself. I am a socially-oriented guy; I want to adapt what I’m learning for the well-being of human beings, of people. Human capital is the key to success and this is a very strong point for me. My family raised me in a very sensitive way. During my work life some people have told me not to be that way – if people see you’re a soft guy, they’ll use you, is the attitude - but I’ve made my career this way, and I think it’s one of my strong points. Be honest. Be honest and fair and open. If people notice that you are fair and open, they are happy working for you, and this will result in a successful business.