An extravaganza on stage with aerial artists and fireworks signalled the annual graduation ceremonies for the Full-time MBA and Executive MBA programmes at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) on 26 March. Graduands participated live on Zoom in the two spectacular back-to-back online ceremonies, which were also simultaneously livestreamed to friends and family members around the world. RSM’s created the events with high production values to ensure that the achievements of the 147 Full-time MBA graduates from the class of 2021, and 111 Executive MBA graduates from the class of 2020 were recognised in style.

MBA 2021

The ceremony for the Full-Time MBA Programme Class of 2021 can now be viewed online. It recognised the achievements of 147 participants of 40 nationalities, with an average age of 31, of which 42 per cent were female and 58 per cent male.

EMBA 2020

Shortly afterwards, the ceremony for the Executive MBA Programme Class of 2020 took place, and can also now be viewed online. It officially marked the graduation of the executive programme with a class cohort comprising 38 nationalities with an average age of 34, of which 31 per cent were female and 69 per cent were male.

Both ceremonies opened with ‘stage fire’ before the names of the graduands were read out. Graduates’ ‘Zoom windows’ were projected around the walls of the auditorium and the livestream switched to individuals’ video feeds as the afternoon ceremonies progressed.

There were speeches from Nicola Kleyn, Dean of Executive Education and Professor of Corporate Marketing; from the Dean, Prof. Ansgar Richter, and a message from Sue Martin, Director of Corporate and Alumni Relations.

Prof. Richter told the new graduates that what they had achieved with their studies at RSM was truly outstanding.

Prof. Nicola Kleyn said the graduation ceremony was a good moment for the new graduates to look back and celebrate doing a degree under some of the most difficult circumstances in history.

Sue Martin reminded the new graduates that they were now part of the global RSM alumni community and urged them to keep in touch with each other and with the school.

After the official open livestreamed ceremonies were over, the two cohorts celebrated together for the evening in closed online groups.

Dean’s Honours

Several graduates were recognised for their exceptional academic efforts and presented with the Dean’s Honours alongside their Master’s degrees in Business Administration. They were:

MBA2021 Dean’s Honours with Distinction

Simon Lucas Porzak; Jordan Myles Yeend.

MBA2021 Dean’s Honours

Matthew Lawson Douglas; Anuj Goyal; Mauro Baldo; Manizeh Dossa; Rohit Uttam Awade; Jose Santos Perez Castillo; Lina Maria Zapata Garcia; Byungguen Park; Irvin Shandy; Nardo Snyman; Felipe Tadeu Neto Viveiro.                     

EMBA2020 Dean's honours with Distinction

Koenraad Petrus Leonardus Crijns; Ronnie Albertus Johannes Peskens; Ognjen Zobenica.

EMBA2020 Dean’s Honours

Alexandre Santos Mendes; Arash Edris Zadeh Arabchi; Louis Gavin Cyril Kerr; Matthijs Joris Wilhelmus; Tiago Miguel Ramos Costa; Teunis Pieter de Bakker; Jacopo Giulio De Steffani; Jasper Samuel    Haverkamp; Pierre Henri Nicolas Clement; Robin Christiaan Caro; Alexander Evgenyevich Smetanin; Reto Greter; Luis Rodrigo Genel Castañeda; Angus Rolland Hibbins; Michel Pirassole Félix; Minna Sisko Arminen.

Student Awards – chosen by students

Individual awards were presented for exceptional efforts in addition to academic excellence. The annual Student Awards go to one member of each cohort who is nominated by and voted for by their peers.

In the Full-time MBA Class of 2021, the Student Award went to Nardo Snyman, who works in Digital Strategy Development at SHV Energy and is founder of a technology-start-up that leverages artificial intelligence in the fight against illegal animal trade and poaching. His fellow students said he had a unique vision of engagement with the cohort and brought something special to the programme that inspired and connected his classmates, leading by example and showing some good in even complicated situations, as well as organising extracurricular activities. He received the award and a cash prize of € 2,500.

Nardo Snyman said: “I have always admired those that shrug off adversity and innovate their way out of a challenge. It is in this that RSM has been able to host a graduation that would create a lifetime of lasting memories. Covid-19 has and will continue to disrupt our preconceived notions of how major life events take place, but we shouldn’t afford ourselves the luxury of having that stop us.

“Lasting friendships have been forged over the past 15 months and I am confident that a time will come where we will meet again and celebrate our achievements with a personal embrace.”

Passion and enthusiasm

In the Executive MBA class of 2020, the Student Award went to Koen Crijns, Head of Digital Transformation at DPG Media. He inspired and connected his classmates by being full of passion, enthusiasm, energy and continuous drive and by being always open to helping people. His fellow classmates said they learned a lot from him.

Koen said: "For me, this graduation is a moment never to forget. I am very proud that my hard work earned me a spot on the Dean’s Honour List with Distinction but hearing my name as the Student of the Year award winner was my proudest moment. When I signed up for the MBA, RSM told me that I could expect to learn at least as much from my fellow students as from the professors. That claim could not be closer to the truth; the knowledge and experience I gathered by bonding with my fellow students are beyond valuable. I am grateful and humbled that so many of my fellow students voted for me, proving that I contributed to their learning experience as well."

A challenging year

Full-time MBA students began their studies in January 2020, a few weeks before the pandemic forced RSM to abandon the classroom and for everyone’s studies and group assignments to be conducted online. Sahil Shah (Class president for MBA21) said: "It has been nothing short of a dream to graduate with my classmates, especially in such a challenging year. I wish for everyone to go on to live the life of their dreams. More importantly, I wish that our lives are filled with an undying zest to live every single day with gratitude, positivity and the little joys that matter the most."

Executive MBA students had a year of on-campus studies – alongside their jobs – before their studies were moved online for their second year, but that was no less of a challenge for them.

The finish line of a two-year marathon

Koen Crijns (EMBA20 Deans Honours and Student Award winner) said the experience of studying for and completing his Executive MBA felt like a two-year marathon, with the graduation ceremony as the finish line. “RSM’s Executive MBA feels like an intense, two-year long marathon, throughout which you need to challenge yourself during the whole journey while making sure all other priorities in life (family, friends, work) still get the attention they need. The graduation event ignites the same feelings as the finish line of a real marathon: pride for what you have accomplished, gratefulness to everybody that helped you achieve those goals, and bonding with all the people that undertook the same challenge together.

“While everybody is craving for an opportunity to have a big social gathering after a year in lockdown, RSM made sure we got the vibe of a major event in our living rooms. The graduation ceremony fit the pattern of the whole RSM MBA; meticulously organised with attention to every little detail.”

Change makers

Christina Demetre EMBA20 said: “At the start of this two-year adventure, the idea of graduating seemed so far away.  This experience has been a challenge to remember. Being able to reflect on the entire rollercoaster ride, thank goodness we were armed with the mantra of ‘trust the process’! I couldn't be prouder to be part of such an amazing cohort. The EMBA class of 2020 is smart, resilient, creative, and full of change makers (and Zoom experts). Where we all craved to be in person again, this graduation served as a way for us to be virtually together to celebrate our accomplishments and show the world we are a force for positive change.”

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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