Pride, joy and positivity sparked through cameras and screens at the online graduation ceremony for the graduates of the part-time Executive Master in Corporate Communication at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) on 27 November 2020. They reflected on their experiences and learning, celebrated achievements, and explored how to create personal happiness as business leaders.

Business professionals Pamela de Beus, Arno van Dijk, Bart de Graaff, Manon de Zwart, Marion Geraats, Lucila Perez Mollo, Andreia Paiva, Marloes Smittenaar, Mariëlle Stege, Stefan Vasic and Claudia Verbeek have more than 12 years of work experience, and now have senior or director positions in various fields, from the corporate world to government and education. The 11 graduates represent 5 nationalities: Argentinian, Dutch, German, Portuguese and Swiss.

The online audience was welcomed by RSM Dean Ansgar Richter and the programme’s executive director Marijke Baumann.

Keynote speaker Patrick van Hees is an inspirator and happiness expert. He spoke to the graduates about leadership and personal happiness. He said it’s all about ‘CAR’, which stands for connections, actions and recharge. Van Hees said the Rotterdam philosopher Desiderius Erasmus was in favour of a balanced life too. Then he shared five tips for ‘happy corporate communication masters’:

  1. Put ‘recharging’ at the top of your to-do list
  2. Adapt a ‘mindful media use’ style
  3. Within corporate communication, try to connect to relevant happiness predictors, aligning with corporate values
  4. Look for the lights inside of the tunnel, instead of waiting until you’ve reached the end of it
  5. Who can you help? Which charity might you support? Whose light might you be?

Thesis awards

There were two awards as part of the ceremony. The 2020 Professor Cees van Riel Award for Impact in Corporate Communication went to Marloes Smittenaar for her thesis The pressure to change: the role of climate change communication strategies in the energy industry. She was presented the award by Professor Emeritus Cees van Riel, who is the founder of the MCC programme.

Graduate Claudia Verbeek won the Andreas Award for Innovation in Corporate Communication 2020 for her thesis Part of the deal? Explaining job switching behaviour of key talent though the lens of the push-pull-mooring model. The award was announced by Ing. Dries van de Beek, former chairman of the board of RSM’s Corporate Communication Centre.

Coach Guido Berens and Marijke Baumann presented the diplomas to all the graduates. They said the participants’ theses cover highly relevant topics, and are ‘academic works with truly practical value’.

Executive MSc in Corporate Communication

The part-time Executive Master of Science in Corporate Communication (MCC) is developed by RSM’s Corporate Communication Centre. Around 1,300 business professionals from 30 countries and nationalities have completed modules and workshops of the programme as short courses. More than 300 of them have graduated with an MSc in Corporate Communication title. 

Graduates from the MCC programme usually apply their thesis research in their daily job, or it can open doors to new opportunities. From the Class of 2019, Bart van Leeuwen’s research was published in a professional business magazine for banks and insurance companies, and he is frequently asked to speak about his research at workshops and conferences. Sara Vernooij’s research was published in C-Magazine, the magazine for communication professionals in the Netherlands. And a recent article by Professor Paul Argenti in Harvard Business Review was co-based on the thesis research by Sanne Verhoeven.

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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