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Nicola Kleyn
Nicola Kleyn

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) has appointed a new Dean of Executive Education. Professor Nicola Kleyn will take up her new post in unusual circumstances in September 2020 with the ongoing coronavirus measures that have closed the campus, but with a unique opportunity to deliver business executive education that can shape a changed world during and after Covid-19. She is currently Dean of the Gordon Institute for Business Science (GIBS) at the University of Pretoria, based in Johannesburg.

Dean of RSM, Prof. Ansgar Richter said: “I am very pleased that Professor Nicola Kleyn will join RSM as Dean of Executive Education. Nicola comes with a huge amount of leadership experience in working with adult learners, consulting and in organisational development. The Gordon Institute of Business Science at the University of Pretoria which she has led as Dean since 2015 is the only African school whose EMBA programme is featured in the Financial Times ranking, and they have just won a Gold award in an EFMD competition – all credit to the work of Nicola and the team that she’s built at GIBS. Above all, Nicola is an inspirational leader who has a vision for a future, and knows how to implement it. I am looking forward to working with her.”

Before joining GIBS as a faculty member from the School’s inception in 2000, Prof. Kleyn headed leadership and development for Investec Bank. Prior to this she was a lecturer and senior lecturer in the Department of Business Economics at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

Prof. Kleyn is an active member of the international business school community. She is the outgoing former chair of South African Business Schools Association, and heads the accreditation for the Association of African Business Schools. She serves as the Vice-President (Africa) for CEEMAN (The International Association for Management Development in Dynamic Societies) and has engaged with business schools from emerging contexts all round the world. She speaks regularly on panels about business education and enjoys chairing them. She is also a global EY Fellow.

She holds a BComm (Hons) and an MBA from the University of the Witwatersrand and a DBA from the University of Pretoria. Her research is applied in nature and focuses on corporate branding and reputation management. She has published in a range of journals including the European Journal of Marketing, Journal of Business Ethics, California Management Review, Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Journal of Brand Management and International Marketing Review. Nicola is married to Russell and they have four adult children.

What business needs to move forward

Nicola Kleyn said: “I am passionate about working in higher education and particularly about being at the interface between academia and the business community. I thoroughly enjoy the role of academic leadership, particularly where it involves linking faculty research and teaching expertise with what business needs to move forward.

“We face an extraordinary opportunity. Beyond the human and economic tragedy of Covid-19, we will see fundamental shifts in the world. As a business school, we will have an active role to play because business is on a significant change journey. We will need to adapt accordingly.”

Working with leaders

She sees RSM’s central mission of being a force for positive change in the world as critically important. “RSM has a really important part to play in educating students as future leaders. But we also have to work with existing leaders; this is where executive education becomes so important.”

Her early research had a strong focus on marketing ethics and she developed a deep interest in how businesses attune to the needs of customers. More recent research in the area of corporate marketing emphasised corporate branding and corporate reputation, with a strong managerial focus or practitioner focus. She is also interested in pedagogy and didactics – how to produce teaching materials that support good learning. This led her to write teaching case studies with a managerial focus. She says: “I’m interested in how we can support the teaching and learning process using our academic outputs.”

She considers that creativity in disseminating research can better profile the practice-focused outcomes of research for an executive education market, bridging what faculty members do and what business needs.

“There’s space for RSM to create enormous benefit and impact by translating research into implications for practice.”

She also considers it important for researchers to gain access to business in order to conduct research that can feed back into business. “Sometimes that may be as a discourse to think deeply about the problems we face. I see significant opportunities for more of that to happen, by looking at what faculty needs and their value proposition to business.”

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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