A 24-hour party to celebrate a 50th birthday? Alumni from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) made it happen – all over the world. More than 800 people registered for celebrations varying from playing golf to lunch parties and panel debates to a quiz about Rotterdam, the city where it all began for the more than 43,000 RSM alumni who now work as business professionals and entrepreneurs in various industries worldwide.

From Asia to Europe to the Caribbean and back

The huge RSM anniversary celebrated 50 years of impact, and connected alumni, students, corporate friends and faculty members all over the world through about 30 events, online and in person which were organised by RSM and its global alumni chapters and volunteers in Austria, Canada, China, Dubai, France, Germany, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, USA; and two regional events for Latin America and the Nordic region. Two communities had to postpone offline events because of Covid-19 measures; the chapters in Taiwan and Australia plan to host their celebratory events as soon as possible.

RSM alumni relations manager Meta Haag-Mikec was blowing up balloons in her party clothes in her home office at 05:30 CET on 24 June for the first #RSM24 event of the day – an informal lunch time get-together with alumni in Singapore, including Ramesh Chidambaram (Full-time MBA 2010). 

“It's been ages since I visited the Netherlands,” said Chidambaram with a big smile. While the global strategy director in Singapore added that he didn’t do well in the ‘Rotterdam quiz’ at the alumni event, he did however like discussing mega-trends with the RSM community. “The viewpoints on the new way of working as many of us have to make decisions on behalf of their companies. And I still benefit from being connected to some of the RSM mentors who graduated well before I did. I wish RSM lots of continued international impact over the next 50 years!”

In Europe, the small but well-established community of about 20 alumni in Iceland meets a few times a year. For the #RSM24 celebration, about 15 former students played golf and had dinner at one of their homes, where they also connected with RSM via a video call.

This feeling of community was echoed in Poland. “The people I met during my studies in the Netherlands are inspiring and have great stories to share,” says alumnus Piotr Balcerowski (MSc Master in Management 2015), who organised the #RSM24 event in Warsaw. There was a full range of alumni – from an MBA graduate in 1992 to a new master graduate from 2020. “Our lives are different but RSM is our common experience. We even had a taste of Dutch weather, which didn’t stop us from continuation of the celebration!”

The Polish RSM community is very active. Piotr and the chapter’s co-leader Przemysław Krempaszanka (MSc Strategic Management 2013) had already organised three get-togethers with a plan  to host events at least twice a year in Warsaw and other Polish cities.

Shifting to the Caribbean, the local alumni event was held in a restaurant in Willemstad, Curaçao, where two former prime ministers joined the group, Eugene Rhuggenaath (Full-time MBA 1998) and Daniel R. Hodge (Doctoraal Postkandidaats Bedrijfskunde 1987) to discuss what it was like to study in the 80s and what has changed since then. Hodge also spoke about leadership, the re-opening of Curaçao, and how  alumni can positively contribute to post-pandemic progress.

All-in-all the biggest offline event was in Shanghai, where almost 50 alumni met in person to hear personal experiences from senior alumni and industry leaders from companies such as Deloitte, Amazon and Microsoft.

A heart-warming birthday party

It was a fulfilling day for Haag-Mikec from RSM’s alumni team. She logged into several online events and touched base with alumni volunteers worldwide about supporting numerous face-to-face events. What was the weather forecast in Zurich for the event on a terrace? Were the photographers at the right address? “It was amazing to see so many communities participating. Everybody was looking forward to celebrate RSM’s birthday together with their fellow alumni and us here in Rotterdam.”

Sue Martin, corporate and alumni relations director at RSM, couldn’t agree more. She was impressed with the exciting events, from the golf tournament in Iceland to the panel debate in Dubai. ““It was a really heart-warming and successful global party. We truly felt some birthday warmth, pride and affinity from our wonderful alumni. I even saw some people standing on tables at one of the in-person parties!”

Staying connected locally

International alumni chapters and volunteers organise alumni events all over the world to keep social, educational, and useful opportunities alive for fellow RSM alumni. Their impact and staying engaged also includes mentoring, hiring RSM graduates or contributing towards scholarship funds.

For some, it was the first RSM alumni experience, while others have been attending alumni events for more than 20 years. In his party video, Dean Ansgar Richter said: “Attending events such as these is a wonderful way to stay connected to the friends and experiences you had here in Rotterdam. I hope that for each of you this is the beginning, or a continuation, of a lifelong relationship with the alumni community in your region, whether you are 5, 200 or 16,700 kilometres away.”

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. www.rsm.nl

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 harriford@rsm.nl.

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