Alumni reunite in Munich during Leadership Weekend by Local Chapter Germany
Alumni reunite in Munich during Leadership Weekend by Local Chapter Germany

Around 30 alumni from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) travelled from across Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Italy to attend the Local Chapter Germany’s third annual alumni leadership weekend in Munich in June 2016. They explored how the Internet of Things (IoT) influences business and leadership practices, and reunited and networked during social events.

After an informal networking event at a traditional Munich restaurant on Friday evening, the RSM alumni gathered again on Saturday for the conference day at GE Healthcare Germany, which was filled with presentations and workshops. Speakers from RSM, Allianz and IBM gave the alumni valuable insights into the concept behind the Internet of Things, and shared real-life applications. They also discussed the requirements the digital shift puts on leaders.

An open-minded approach

Alumni Stefano Flori and Gloria Chang (both MBA 2007) were impressed with listening to influential people talking about IoT both from business and academic points of view. “The level of discussion was truly enjoyable and interactive with great value added from all the listeners,” said the couple, who got married after meeting at RSM and now live in Italy. They said you need to use available data information to create best customer-centric solutions and products. “You need always to look at your business model and processes with a very open-minded approach, and be ready to also change what seems to work well to avoid being trapped as a victim of the external trends.”

Winning the data race
Prof. Eric van Heck from RSM’s Department of Technology and Operations Management discussed leadership challenged with IoT, cloud, analytics and agents. Paraphrasing Dutch football legend Johan Cruijff, the professor said that “digital masters are not able to win from you, but you can lose from them.” Van Heck explained big data and other digital technologies, and challenged the alumni to think about the business value, how they can win the data race.

Digital disruption

Wilfried Hoge, IT architect cognitive solutions, IoT and big data at IBM, gave a presentation about the IoT value proposition from IBM’s point of view and customer case studies. Hoge said IoT is driving digital disruption of the physical world. Alumni discussed why a lot of data is unused, and how to use cognitive computing to make a better use of that.

Theo Bouts, head of global life and health at Allianz SE spoke about transformation through the use of Smart Business Networks (SBN). Bouts, who completed RSM’s Postkandidaats Bedrijfskunde Doctoraal in 1984, told his fellow alumni about SBN between Allianz and insurance business, and how IT systems must be maintained to support these kind of networks and communities.

Career development

“Theo Bouts’ role and impact at Allianz are excellent,” said Prof. Van Heck. The professor added that it is important for alumni to stay in touch. “They can learn from each other about career development. This is a very enthusiastic group who are clearly proud to be RSM alumni and willing to share experiences,” said Van Heck.

The RSM alumni represented various RSM’s programmes, including the school’s MBA programmes, the BSc in International Business Administration, and various MSc programmes, and graduated between 1984 and 2015. As part of the alumni leadership weekend’s programme, the alumni also climbed the roof of Munich’s Olympiapark, visited the Allianz Arena with a guided tour, and enjoyed several social events.

The future of business

“The RSM Local Chapter Germany was a perfect chance to meet with other former students of RSM from Germany and around,” says Julia Handte, who graduated from RSM’s MSc in Strategic Management in 2014. She said the event was a great mix of networking opportunities, inspiring speeches and sports activities making it “an outstanding experience.” Handte: “The challenges for leadership that IoT brings was especially interesting as it’s highly relevant for all kinds of businesses these days. It will have a crucial impact on how business is made in the future. I’m already looking forward for the next RSM alumni event to come!”    

Local Chapter Germany

The Alumni Leadership Weekend 2016 was organised by alumni Claudia Schneider (BScIBA 2009 and MSc in Strategic Management 2010), Katharina Holch (MBA 2010) and Markus Lodensträter (MBA 2013) from the Local Chapter Germany. There are many ways for alumni to stay connected to RSM, and attend networking events, benefit from lifelong learning opportunities and be a part of RSM’s global alumni network of more than 29,000 members through Local Chapters and Clubs worldwide. For more information about the Local Chapter Germany, please email

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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