Roland van den Bergh

Roland van den Bergh

Programme/year: OneMBA13
Nationality: Dutch
Job Title: Managing Director
Company: Vanderlande Industries International
Age: 42



"As an MD I am challenged daily with changing market situations, staff issues, supply chain challenges and so on - never a dull moment! I have a high level of experience and increasing level of theoretical knowledge from the MBA helping me to handle these challenges successfully."


What led you to the choose an MBA?

In 2004, I became owner-director of a company on the edge of bankruptcy, looking for a new challenge. Within 18 months, the company developed from being almost bankrupt to generating a good profit. Within 3 years the turnover had doubled to €20 million and remained more or less stable until 2009, with stable profits also. Due to quality problems and effects of the recession, the turnover dropped in 2010 to approximately €14 million, and our profits were slashed to almost zero. We struggled for another two years not succeeding to overcome the quality problems to my satisfaction so I decided to leave the company.

Giving up what I had worked on for more than six years felt like a personal loss. I wanted to analyse this experience, find its causes and learn as much as possible from it. So I looked for an Executive MBA. I saw it as an opportunity to improve myself.

And why RSM?

I have a family with three young kids so this made me look for an institute within The Netherlands, to minimise travel. I also looked at some online courses, but preferred to have the interaction with other students. I started to look for the best institute in The Netherlands. I looked for an international  executive programme, which RSM offered. It has a high reputation in The Netherlands in general and impressive rankings for its Executive and Global One Executive MBA programmes.

Some of the partner institutions for the Global programme have an outstanding reputation and hold weight when talking to international people. They recognise the institutions and respond positively to them.

Is the MBA a well-known degree in your company?

It is. Vanderlande Industries employs many highly educated people from mechanical and software engineers to human resource and supply chain managers. RSM is a well know institute in the company, so are its MBA programmes.

How is the Executive MBA impacting your current work at Vanderlande Industries?

As an MD I am challenged daily with changing market situations, staff issues, supply chain challenges and so on - never a dull moment! I have a high level of experience and increasing level of theoretical knowledge from the MBA helping me to handle these challenges successfully. The MBA assignments help me to reflect on my period as owner-director and I have been able to gather remarkable new insights from it. Learning and gaining wisdom is a privilege for me. It gives me a positive state of mind which I am convinced has an impact on the people I manage as well.

How have you found your colleagues on the course?

Students come from many different nationalities and backgrounds, with different values and beliefs, all with their own ambitions and interests and all contribute to making this programme so diverse and non-standard. When we met for the first time, we were told, that we would most probably learn the most from colleague students we feel least comfortable with..... and it is true! A high diversity of people provides a solid base to get inspired by new points of view. Doing this MBA programme with students from all around the world gives this programme so much more extra value. I am inspired by the perspectives that other nationalities bring to the table. 

With your very busy schedule, how do you manage the cross-continental projects that you are doing with an international team?

I just have the discipline to do them. Once, I have done an internet-meeting while driving in a taxi through New Delhi with my notebook on my lap and internet via a dongle! Sometimes the digital meetings are done in the middle of the night but all of them have been worth it for sure.

Have you enjoyed the Global Residencies so far?

I found Washington impressive for the straightforwardness of the American attitude of targeting opportunities in the market. There is less need for reaching consensus -  if there is an opportunity it is targeted with the precision of a laser and the speed of lightning. In Amsterdam the lecture of our former Prime Minister Dr. Jan-Peter Balkenende was impressive and surprised several students from abroad. The third residency in Johannesburg was the most impressive, being in a beautiful country with happy people with an astonishing history, while facing immense socio-economic changes.

What has been the best part of Executive MBA for you so far?

It would be the residency in Johannesburg. It made me realise once again what is really important in life,  what a great leader it takes to handle such immense challenges and  that there is a deeper goal in life than only having a business career. No matter what hardship people were confronted with, they had a smile on their face and made the best of things. I keep this in my heart, inspiring me to carry on when I face my own challenges.

And after the Executive MBA, what does the future hold?

My experience as owner-director led me to do the Global One Executive MBA, which made me a wiser world citizen, a more critical person, a father taking more responsibility and an MD with faith to be up to any challenge that could cross my path. I will look again for new challenges as I did when I became owner-director, challenging myself maximally, daring to  risk failure, considering it a part of a process to keep on improving myself.  Who knows what further wisdom and development the future will bring!