Almost 70 graduates from the prestigious MSc International Management / CEMS programme at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) celebrated the completion of their studies on campus on 19 April 2024. The inspiring ceremony urged graduates to focus on their journey and stay critical of change – there are exciting opportunities and challenges ahead!

The incredibly diverse class delivers 69 graduates, of which 53 attended the ceremony with their friends and family. RSM Dean of Education Prof. Michel Lander explained that the CEMS alliance is one of the most ambitious partnerships between universities, business and non-profit organisations. “This community is to educate the brightest in our fast and global world. You stand out for your ability to perform in such an environment, your empathy with different values and cultures, and your willingness to take responsibility within society,” he said. “Walk away from RSM inspired to learn, grow and challenge yourself. Be fierce in pursuing positive change in everything you do. You have the potential to change the world.”

No taboos

The graduation event featured two keynote speakers. The first was Ronald van Raak, Professor of 'Erasmian Values' at Erasmus School of Philosophy. He told the graduates that it’s important to always stay critical and discuss things. “The world is different than it was when philosopher Desiderius Erasmus lived here, it’s different than the 70s and so on. People had other ways of thinking and other values. People’s ‘truth’ will always change. That’s why we must always be critical and there should be no taboos. Everything must be discussed. Always. Otherwise we stay stupid.”

Prof. Van Raak, who is a former member of parliament in both the Dutch Senate and the House of Representatives for 18 years, explained: “We live in difficult times: we have climate change and wars. We have artificial intelligence. Will that be part of our lives, or are we part of AI? We can’t solve these problems if there are taboos. Talk about it. Be critical. Take care of the world. Be an Erasmian.”

Business in space

Next up was RSM CEMS alumnus Niels Eldering, Head of ESA Entrepreneurship and Business Incubation Services at the European Space Agency. He said the world is just a small part of the universe but that we can have large impact. “It’s more about the journey, than about the destination. The high technology for space missions is covered. Now the biggest innovations in the space industry are new business models, for example: how we can go to the moon and back with fewer expenses, with recurring business models instead of one-offs?”

Eldering works with startup companies, coming up with such models and how to leverage data from space. He said there are more and more start-up companies building the ‘SpaceX’ of tomorrow. This year marks the 20th anniversary of RSM’s collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA) for the CEMS block seminar. Eldering, who won an RSM Distinguished Alumni Award in 2015, is the driving force behind this partnership, which commenced after his RSM studies for which he wrote his master thesis about technology transfer at ESA.

Eldering: “When CEMS students and graduates put business knowledge into new space companies, it really leads to results! Together, we can change the space industry to a modern and competitive industry. In any case, what do you want your impact to be? Don’t just ‘think about’ what you want to change. Get out there and take action!”

Ready for departure

Graduate Giacomo Rossi took the stage to talk to his classmates and the audience about his RSM CEMS experiences and future expeditions. He also stressed to his classmates that it’s all about the journey. “It will be filled with unexpected storms. But our degree shaped us to be experts in multiculturality, navigating uncertainty and connecting the dots. We are equipped to adjusting our sail, making the best of the winds we’re provided with and traveling faster than before,” Rossi said.

He continued: “CEMSies – you – are the people who I want on my boat, whatever the sea provides us with. This crew has an incredibly strong friendship. Treasure this feeling and this energy. We’re ready for departure into this journey, and the whole world is our navigation chart.”

The CEMS graduates were called to the stage to receive their diplomas and a personal message by Dr René Olie, Academic Director of RSM’s International Management/CEMS programme and Associate Professor of International and Strategic Management.

More than half of the 69 graduates were on the Dean’s honours list. In total, 38 of them graduated cum laude (with a GPA of at least 8.6) and 5 graduates successfully completed the programme summa cum laude (with a GPA of 9 or higher). 

The graduates were welcomed to the RSM alumni network by Sue Martin, RSM’s director of corporate and alumni relations. With a growing network of more than 50,000 alumni worldwide, RSM’s alumni community brings opportunities for lifelong learning, professional development and social connections.

MSc International Management/CEMS

RSM’s 18-month MSc in International Management/CEMS programme aims to advance high-quality graduates with a well-developed global mindset, to better prepare them for an international career in business. Delivered by CEMS academic members, the CEMS Master in Management (CEMS MIM) is a joint programme, open to a select group of students who are enrolled in one of the leading universities in the CEMS Alliance, including RSM. Since its launch, CEMS has grown into a global alliance of 33 leading business schools across six continents with more than 70 multinational partners and 8 social partners that together offer the CEMS MIM. Upon graduation, alumni become members of RSM’s alumni network as well as the CEMS Alumni Association.

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top-ranked business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers.

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Erika Harriford-McLaren, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

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