Olivia Heerenveen

Name: Olivia Heerenveen
Nationality: Dutch
Age: 31
Job title: Direct sales and operations manager at Etihad Airways
Previous degree: Master in communication science at University of Amsterdam

Olivia Heerenveen lives in Amsterdam with her partner. She loves reading, Netflix, and water sports such as surfing. She has been travelling since she was a baby, and grabs every opportunity to travel, which she also does a lot for work.  

1. Why did you decide to join RSM’s Executive MBA?  

“RSM has a high standard in the Netherlands and worldwide, and many people advised me to look into the RSM EMBA. I want to start my own business and I feel like this is the right basis to create a network and grow into doing this.”  

2. How did people around you react when you decided to go for it?  

“They thought I was nuts, and asked me why I would do this next to my busy job. But it’s what I wanted to do. People were afraid it would drain my energy. But actually, I gained energy instead so it was a good step to take.”  

3. How are you managing to balance studying with work and your social life?  

“I travel a lot, so I study in airplanes, which works out really well. And it’s okay if I miss a dinner here or there. People support me and understand.”  

4. How is the EMBA experience affecting your work?  

“Everyone at work is enthusiastic and supportive. After six months into the programme, I can work much better on strategical projects. During the programme, you gain experience very quickly. It’s very pragmatic and I can use it in my job right away.”  

5. What is the return on investment you expect from the Executive MBA?  

“I want to increase my capabilities to manage my own business in the future. I’m learning how to work with people from different nationalities and industry. It’s very interesting and opens your horizons to new opportunities.”      

6. How has the Personal Leadership Development programme (PLD) affected you?  

“In the future, it will identify the qualities of my leadership and will make me a better leader in and outside of work.”  

7. What can you say about your classmates?  

“They’re very inspiring. I learn a lot from the different views everyone holds. Working together with so many different people brings me so much energy and you see things in a different way than you saw before.”  

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

“The study trip to Cape Town, South Africa. We got to know the country on a deeper level than when you visit it for vacation or business. I realise there are a lot of opportunities in South Africa that I didn’t know of before. I also got to know my classmates better.”  

9. Which class have you enjoyed most so far – and why?  

“To my own surprise, this was management accounting. I didn’t know anything about it, and never  submerged myself in the subject before. The class made me realise it’s essential to know about this – you need it to get a better strategic view of things.”  

10. What is the biggest challenge of the Executive MBA?  

“You’re completely out of your comfort zone. Before the Executive EMBA you choose who you hang out with. Now you’re forced into a mix of various nationalities, and views. You see things in ways you never considered before. It changes your mindset.”  

11.  After the Executive MBA, what does the future hold?  

“Whatever I do, I want to be happy doing it. I want to start my own business and do other projects on the side. It will be something in the marketing field, which is changing rapidly so have to keep up.”