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RSM OneMBA Class of 2021
RSM OneMBA Class of 2021

Diving straight in with three days of introductions and communication skills classes on Personal Leadership Development, followed immediately by the first of four international residencies in São Paulo, Brazil, set the pace and tone of the first few days for the new cohort starting the Global Executive OneMBA programme at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) in late September.

The first sessions of the Personal Leadership Development course helped the new students to get to know each other as well as the dynamic and complex process of human interaction, as they embarked on the OneMBA curriculum. RSM OneMBA candidate Timo Spruijt, commercial manager at Koppert Biological Systems said the first week felt like a roller-coaster. He heard new insights, ideas and old paradigms broken at such a pace ‘that you can feel the adrenaline’. “It was really impressive for me to see how a broad agenda that covers different topics can have such a cohesive effect in such a short time,” he said. 

Straight to São Paulo

Right after the introduction module, the RSM cohort travelled to São Paulo, Brazil to meet the entire global cohort of 97 business professionals from RSM’s four partner business schools around the world: EGADE - Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico; Escola de Administração de Empresas de São Paulo da Fundação Getulio Vargas in Brazil; School of Management Xiamen University in China; and University of Miami Business School in the USA.

RSM OneMBA participant Lucas Freitas, global segment manager at AkzoNobel (and a Brazilian national) said he was impressed how quickly the cohort was able to expand their awareness of the country and to hold deep discussions about it during the international residency. He spoke of a highlight for him: “During the final day, our Chinese colleagues from Xiamen University decided to take the spotlight and started to share their views about their team members what to focus on as a team and as individuals. It was a great and touching, bonding moment that brought the whole cohort closer.”

Liang Yang, program manager at Philips said the international study trip had shown her how the politics of Brazil are connected to economic challenges and opportunities in South America, and the connection between agriculture and sustainability. “It feels like we are a mini United Nations and are a growing force to make the world better for all of us,” she said. 

In cultural context

The first Global Residency week taking place in South America was organised by OneMBA consortium partner the São Paulo School of Business Administration. This opening week was an opportunity to explore leadership frameworks in a cross-cultural context. Participants considered the relevance of doing business in South America with particular emphasis on the Brazilian economy, global megatrends, and corporate social responsibility initiatives. In global teams, participants engaged in a climate change simulation, and visited Nespresso’s recycling and distribution centre as well as several other national and international companies, where they discussed leadership challenges.

Important economic regions

The 21-month global executive OneMBA programme is delivered through five business schools, located in Asia, Europe, North America and South America. It is designed with international residencies that enable participants to experience business through the lens of the world’s various economic regions, and it is aimed at senior executives and professionals.

Highly international, highly skilled

The RSM OneMBA class of 2021 (this represents their anticipated graduation date) comprises 34 professionals with an average age of 37 and representing 15 nationalities: Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Colombia, Egypt, France, Germany, Hungary, Mexico, Netherlands, Romania, Russian Federation, Singapore and Turkey. The students have an average of 14 years of work experience in industries that include healthcare, education, financial services, IT services, pharmaceuticals, insurance, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), energy and utilities. Their employers vary a great deal from small(er) firms to multinational organisations such as ING, AkzoNobel, Heineken, Boskalis, Philips, GlaxoSmithKline, NN Group, Huawei Technologies, Shell, and ExxonMobil. 

RSM OneMBA participant Sarah Soenen, health care manager, clinical psychologist and psychotherapist at YOUZ - Parnassia Group said she was impressed by how much had been achieved in the leadership element both at the local and global module, especially in such a short space of time. Discussions with other students, particularly in Brazil, have started her thinking about issues that affect healthcare and how she can use global business megatrends to be proactive in the healthcare business.

Other residencies; to North America, Asia, and in Europe take place later in the programme. RSM OneMBA participant Irina Kobelyatskaya, founder and CEO at LVL UP said she learned how leadership can cross cultural and social boundaries if it is based on a respectful attitude. “Complete immersion in the local context is the best way to truly appreciate and better understand the specifics of the South America region,” she commented. 

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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