There were so many graduates, members of families and friends, that the three largest theatres of De Doelen in the centre of Rotterdam were full when Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) presented its latest cohort with their master degrees. The three parallel graduation ceremonies involving more than 800 graduates were also streamed online and watched by the remaining 600+ international graduates who could not attend the ceremony in Rotterdam on Saturday 30 September.

Despite poor weather, graduands made a procession across Schouwburgplein from the City Theater to De Doelen, led by the Mayor of Rotterdam Ahmed Aboutaleb and university officials, followed by a cortège of professors, teachers, and then the graduands. Dean of RSM Steef van de Velde made sure to welcome everyone by speaking in each theatre during the parallel ceremonies. In all, 817 master degrees were presented for 11 programmes.

Contributing to a peaceful society

Mayor of Rotterdam Ahmed Aboutaleb addressed the largest crowd in the Grote Zaal, and emphasized the strong link between the university and the business world in Rotterdam. He invited the graduates to become visionaries – those who can think a few steps ahead, and apply the knowledge they have acquired during their studies. He reminded them to not only think about their own success, but also about their responsibility to contribute to a stable and peaceful society. He called them ‘ambassadors for Rotterdam’ and invited the international graduates to "Keep in touch with the Dutch."

Passion and risk

The student address in the Grote Zaal (big hall) was given by Keely Bates, a new MSc Management of Innovation graduate. She told her fellow graduates that success in life stems from following a passion and contributing to society in some meaningful way. “This university – aiming to be a force for positive change – our fellow cohorts and the city of Rotterdam itself have done their part in teaching us about empathy and kindness towards others,” she said, and urged them to "find your own limitations and then go ahead and ignore them – take risks instead." During her time at RSM Keely served as an ambassador for her programme, acting as a consultant to prospective students about studies, about RSM and the university, and inspiring them to join. Student numbers in the Management of Innovation Master are up six per cent in 2017, despite stricter admission requirements.

Knowledge, education and talent

The graduation ceremony marks the transition from being a student at RSM to being a member of its network of more than 34,000 international alumni. Welcoming them to the network, alumnus Marcel Duits told the graduates in the Grote Zaal to pick the company that suits them, pick the job that suits them, and stay connected with RSM because it is where there is knowledge, executive education, and talent. “If down the road you need a trainee, you will be grateful to tap into this network,” he said. He also reminded them to give back to the school and its current students in a variety of ways. Marcel graduated from RSM’s BSc in Business Administration and its MSc Strategic Management, and MSc Finance & Investments programmes. Now, he is an entrepreneur and consultant in online outsourcing to India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and has mentored RSM students.

Dr Gabi Helfert, Executive Director MSc Programmes was master of the ceremony in the Grote Zaal. She said RSM was pleased to see so many talented, dynamic, ambitious young graduates celebrating with family and friends in the three theatres. Many parents and guests expressed their gratitude for a beautiful ceremony, in spite of struggles due to the rain and delays in the procession.

Tracking graduate careers

RSM keeps track of its graduates, producing a Graduate Employment Report every year. The 2017 report (from a survey of 2016’s master graduates) reveals that most students find a job within three months of starting their search, and almost half secured a first step on the career ladder before graduation.

The enormous ceremony represented the class of 2017 graduating from RSM’s one-year master programmes. There are 11 of them: Finance & Investments; Accounting & Financial Management; Marketing Management; Business Information Management; Supply Chain Management; Management of Innovation; Strategic Management; Global Business & Sustainability; Strategic Entrepreneurship; Human Resource Management; and Organisational Change & Consulting.

Three other specialised master programmes at RSM will have separate ceremonies later; the  MSc Finance and Investment Advanced and MSc Master in Management are 16 month programmes, participants graduate in December, and MSc International Management/CEMS is an 18 month programme; these students graduate in April.

The recording of the livestream of the three ceremonies can be watched online.

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top 10 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. Study information and activities for future students, executives and alumni are also organised from the RSM office in Chengdu, China.

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Marianne Schouten, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

Alumni , Homepage , In the spotlight , International , Newsroom , Master , China , Positive change