The 32 Global Exective OneMBA graduates from the Class of 2018 represent 13 nationalities, have an average age of 40, and more than 15 years of work experience in various industries, including technology and energy, finance and investments, engineering and consulting. Proud family members, colleagues and friends cheered the graduates as the procession entered.
Prof. Steef van de Velde, Dean of RSM, told the graduates they now have a position of advantage to make positive change happen. “You can create great business models that also do good. Life’s too short not to.”
Three life chapters
Keynote speaker Lucile de Godoy shared her story of personal realisation and reinvention. She completed RSM’s OneMBA in 2004 and is now the managing director of advisory firm Godoy Holding BV. She said she feels there have been three chapters in her life.
The first chapter covers the years before her MBA. She grew up in Brazil as one of seven siblings and studied psychology, but realised it was not her calling and went into business management. “I had successful assignments and a high-adrenaline life; I’ve lived on three continents. But I was missing something. I came to RSM to learn more. And I left as a better professional.”
Defining your identity
The second chapter was marked by disruption. After her MBA, De Godoy’s career was disrupted when her boss resigned and she was also forced to leave the company after eight years. She realised she had always used her job to define her identity. “I didn’t realise setbacks and failure could happen to me. It took a while to gain strength and redefine what ‘success’ meant to me.”
Then there was family turmoil when her brother suddenly became ill. “My brother’s resilience made me ask myself new questions,” said De Godoy, She decided to leave her job, this time she did without so much reflection, and soon found herself in another top job working for a top CEO.
But De Godoy realised she hadn’t put her skills into something bigger than herself. “I didn’t feel authentic and wasn’t in line with my values.” So she took a break.
Sadly De Godoy’s brother died. “Losing a job was nothing compared to losing my brother. I re-evaluated my life. What would my family say if I had died? ‘She was a hard worker’?”
So she set about rediscovering old passions, which marked the third chapter of her life. “I started writing a blog, photography and yoga. I was part of a community, and got energy from doing things that made me feel alive.” De Godoy said she also got energy from reconnecting with RSM by becoming a mentor. “I got so much back. Don't forget to do it,” she advised the new graduates.
After 18 months of soul searching, De Godoy went back to work as an advisor in change processes, pursued education as a non-executive director, and committed to social work in Brazil.
De Godoy shared what she had learned about becoming a better human being: “Work isn’t who you are. Don’t postpone a meaningful life until you retire. It might be too late.”
The human factor
She also stressed that having a master in business isn’t the same as being a ‘master of yourself.’ RSM alumni are lucky to have opportunities and resources, but many more people don’t. “So always ask in your business: are we doing something good for society? Be a force for positive change. Don’t forget other people and the planet. Life is incredibly fascinating. Lead it, and make it great and be worthy of humanity.”
Fun in Mexico
Class representatives Elisabeth Stevens, Head of Partner Success & EMEA Operations BookingSuite at Booking.com; and Jasper Petit, Senior Counsel International Investment at Bouwinvest Real Estate Investment Management shared their experienced of the OneMBA programme.
Petit first spoke of the fun in assignments and the eight countries the OneMBA class visited; he remembered in particular a mariachi band in Mexico City, but also noted their personal transformations. “Think about the person you were before the OneMBA. And look at who you are now. I think we all changed in a positive way,” he said.
Stevens described how the hotel industry was disrupted by the internet and other technology. “On top of that there’s climate change and inequality. The challenges for business leaders and entrepreneurs are huge,” she said, adding that the OneMBA’s international diversity offers a holistic view of business.
“You really start seeing yourself through another lens when you discuss digital disruption with engineers from China, investment bankers from Russia, and supply chain optimisation with Americans.
“While travelling for the OneMBA, we were haunted by pressing issues, including elections, Brexit, and trade wars. We’ve shown that in a divided world full of conflicts, we can bridge international and cultural differences. We can work together and achieve great things, and have fun while doing it. We really stand for positive and inclusive change, everywhere we go.”
Several students received Dean’s honours as they graduated: Danny Hakker, Niels Pietersen, Paul Snikkers. Maarten van Luijn and Elisabeth Stevens graduated with a Dean’s honours with distinction.
Ready to welcome the graduates to the RSM alumni network of 36,000 professionals worldwide was Irene Broekmans-Versluijs, Assistant Director Alumni Relations. Then alumnus Peter Brijs presented the OneMBA Alumni Association and its activities. Brijs is the OneMBA EMEA Alumni Association board member, and programme manager IT at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy in the Netherlands. He said the OneMBA Alumni Association has seen OneMBA alumni start businesses together, hire each other, and share wild ideas that bring lots of energy. “You really count in this community,” said Brijs.
The ceremony concluded with a ‘Scenes from a business school’ video, put together by graduate Lucy Slater, which reflected on the OneMBA Class of 2018’s academic journey.
After the graduation ceremony, the graduates and their guests enjoyed a celebration at Maria’s Café on campus.
Global Executive OneMBA
The 21-month Global Executive OneMBA programme is the only Executive MBA programme designed with equal input from five premier business schools located in Asia, Europe, North America and South America. Senior executives and professionals experience business through the lens of the world’s most important economic regions, making it unparalleled in its development of knowledge, leadership abilities, global networks and experience of international business where it happens, as it happens.