The Class of 2018’s nationalities are British, Canadian, Dutch, Irish, German and Moldavian. They work – mostly as communication professionals – in various industries, such as financial services, health care, oil and gas and technology, including companies such as Shell, Vion Food, Aegon and Ricoh.
Marijke Baumann, executive director of the programme, welcomed the graduates and opened the ceremony. RSM’s Dean of Education, Prof. Eric Waarts, then complimented the graduates on their excellent skills. He spoke about how the graduates were all ready now to put their knowledge into practice and they were even more ready to act as business partners.
Women in leadership
Keynote speaker Prof. Dianne Bevelander talked about achieving gender-balanced leadership. She talked about the disbalance we see at this moment; about male advantages and how this has developed, about stereotypes and stigmas, and also why this should and can be turned around. She gave notable examples of how this was shown in the ‘corporate communication world’; the majority of PR and communication professionals consists of women, but the leadership positions are mostly taken by men. She encouraged all graduates to stimulate gender-balanced leadership, and support women in taking leadership roles.
Prof. Joep Cornelissen presented a short speech for each of the graduates as they received their degrees. The graduates had also prepared I WILL statements that were presented at the graduation, to show how they would be a force for positive change.
Two graduates were presented with awards. The Andreas Award for Innovation in Corporate Communication 2018 went to graduate Karin Elgin Nijhuis for her thesis Cittaslow in the Netherlands –Raising brand awareness. In her thesis, Karin studied the reasons why Cittaslow-accredited municipalities in the Netherlands are not known as Cittaslows and why brand awareness of the Cittaslow movement and the values it stands for is low. Whilst we urgently need to make conscious choices to ensure a future characterised by sustainability, more than 250 cities in the world have made a conscious choice, namely, to become a Cittaslow, a city “where living is good”. Karin's research describes the vital role of communication and brand awareness and of aspects of stakeholder engagement and collaboration.
The Prof. Cees Van Riel Impact & Excellence Award 2018 went to Dorin Panfil for his thesis Does The Stock Market Really Value Reputation? in which he puts a tangible value on the intangible asset of corporate reputations for listed companies. “Dorin shows remarkable academic strengths in highlighting the limitations of prior research, including the samples and measures used. He also make the case for studying reputational value and stock market performance in both stable and volatile times, for example when a company or industry is facing a crisis,” says Prof. Cees van Riel, adding that the thesis combines the highest level of academic rigour with practical relevance and a practically important question.
The graduation ceremony concluded with a festive reception to celebrate the achievements of the newest members of RSM’s alumni network: Annemieke Calatz, Marie Conroy, Karin Elgin Nijhuis, Irene Gloudemans, Myriam Heffels, Ivan Kosenkov, Loth Kroeger, Malou Kroezen, Job Leeuwerke, Veronique Lefel, David McCann, Laurens Ohlenroth, Dorin Panfil, Regina te Raa, Lydia Verkerk, and Gineke Wilms.