what our participants say
what our participants say
University of Warwick – History and Politics
Contract Interiors LLC – Project manager (Moscow)
(high end office furniture four years plus four years in Moscow, including one year at MGIMO Moscow State Institute of International Relations)
I was lucky – I knew which business school I wanted to go to. I chose RSM because I was interested in the quality of education, and I wanted to be in an international class where I could interact with people with different views and very diverse career objectives. In this respect, I’ve found RSM exceeded my expectations. The very high percentage of international students at RSM was one of the main reasons I chose to come here. I rejected two other universities after visiting their MBA fairs because they were centred on a particular culture. In a diverse environment like this, values and practices are not always widely shared and exposure to this is an important and constant reminder of what real life is like. The further up you go in an organisation, the more you must deal with this kind of ambiguity, where there are different objectives within a team. You must learn to juggle the priorities of others and satisfy everyone in the process.
The academic content has been very good right from the start. Studies in Term 1 were probably the most quantitative of the whole MBA, and the material was presented in a format to suit anyone who hadn’t studied economics since school. Term 1 was also the most difficult in terms of workload, but it was a great experience. For me, the two best classes were management accounting and organisational behaviour.
Management accounting really made us see the kinds of issues that keep managers awake at night; the bigger picture which is much more than just the numbers.
Organisational behaviour is not about quantitative analysis, it’s about human beings. We spent a good deal of time on this subject, and it has a great impact on the way you interact with people.
The lecture system here is different from undergraduate lectures. Here you can interrupt – or interact with – the teachers. I think people feel free to express their experiences and this gives added value to the MBA.
Term 2 is the bread-and-butter subjects; strategy ,finance and marketing. I finished Term 2 feeling I’d learnt a lot of useful things about business, especially about corporate finance. The professors really went out of their way to make sure we understood everything.
For me, the most exciting part is Terms 3 and 4, when we choose our advanced concentrations. I’ve chosen advanced strategy as one of mine, because I thought it would help me to pursue a career in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) where you’re exposed to the workings of corporate strategy much more than in bigger organisations, and you really get to see strategy being implemented.
I’m interested in working with SMEs in the fashion and luxury goods industry, helping them to open up new markets and expand into Eastern Europe. I started contacting companies before I embarked on the MBA, and I’m maintaining those relations – at the same time as looking at new opportunities. This is where RSM’s MBA Career Development Centre has been useful, in organising mock interviews and speed interviews, which gives you practice at answering behavioural questions. It’s easier to deal with these questions in a real interview situation if you come across them before.
RSM puts a huge emphasis on sustainability in business. Even when we’re not studying sustainability issues as such, we are exposed to them. For example, in management accounting, what long-term incentives do you give to your staff? How does a company survive in the long run? The fact that RSM is not focused on one industry works to its advantage because people never felt embarrassed about talking about controversial subjects.
Business Society Management in Term 2 was thought-provoking. There are several examples of businesses trying to find a way of doing something good for society and making money in the process, and hearing these was very interesting and useful.
I have made further studies of the issues of sustainability in the luxury goods industry. Luxury is not about waste, but rather about high quality, long-lasting goods and services derived from very specific local knowledge and craftsmanship. Successful luxury goods producers can preserve unique local competencies and lifestyles that would otherwise be lostSustainability has to be a core business strategy, not just an exercise in Corporate Social Responsibility. The Marketing Club, of which I’m president, has also covered this topic.
I was in contact with alumni via RSM’s Alumni office while I was still in Moscow and I have signed up for the Alumni Mentorship programme; I’m waiting to hear who my Alumni mentor will be. I plan to take up alumni network opportunities afterwards, and play an active part in the alumni network after I graduate.
I would like to be a leader in an entrepreneurial environment, to create competitiveness in a company. For that, you need leadership skills and charisma, but you also have to know where to stop, when to give responsibility to people who can do it better.
I’m a big fan of Professor Henry Mintzberg of McGill University in Montreal who says that leadership features highly at most business schools, but studying for an MBA won’t turn you into a leader. Despite this, I think the Personal Leadership Development programme here at RSM has interesting takeaways. Leadership is not just about having super individuals: it’s about interacting with people every day. We are all responsible for the social structures we help build and live in, and you can actively participate in establishing your leadership by your language and behaviour.
The MBA is very intense, so you don’t get much free time. In fact you get so little that you try to make the most of it and fill it while you have it!
I think it’s great that you can get to Amsterdam by train within an hour, and come back on a night train. Rotterdam has good travel connections and I’m part of several networking organisations that meet in The Hague, Amsterdam, Brussels and Antwerp.
The Student Association’s Marketing Club was founded the year before I arrived, and I’m its second president. I’m passionate about marketing, conveying the identity of your company and goods to the outside world. I think it’s very important to have visiting companies explain the challenges facing today’s marketing professionals to our students. We’re about to organise a big seminar with ESOMAR (a marketing research organisation) and we have also organised events with multinationals such as Unilever, Philips, Puma and Hyve AG, as well as field trips to companies like the Nolet Distillery, the world’s oldest family-owned enterprise and producer of Ketel One vodka. In the final term, we plan to meet Mercedes Benz, Audi, Nespresso and the international PR company, Weber Shandwick.
Richard Scott Tessell
University of Pittsburgh – Mathematics
Philips Healthcare NA, Account Manager, Sales
The high quotient of international students at RSM was a key differentiator for me when I was choosing a business school. I wanted to study outside of the USA, and in an international environment. I thought it would be a good experience to be in a classroom setting with people from all over the world. It was an intriguing prospect and it has proved to be true. I think it’s one of RSM’s strong points. For example, in my first team I worked with Indian, Chinese, Spanish, Japanese and German team members.
Before I even completed the application forms I made contact with a member of the RSM Alumni network through Philips in Canada and we exchanged emails. Now in the programme, I’ve interacted with alumni members at various events, and also in Brussels on the international study TRIP. I’d like to become an active member of the Alumni network when I graduate, but I don’t know where I’ll be.
I’ve found all the professors to be outstanding, with a good combination of academic background and practical experience; some of them have done management consulting in the past and their additional insights have made class more interesting. Many of them use case studies for teaching, which sometimes elicits a great deal of discussion. I contribute pretty regularly in most of the classes, some more than others, depending on my areas of expertise. Teachers are usually available to contact during office hours by phone, but if I have additional questions I usually just grab the professor at the end of the class.
Sometimes I might need to touch base with the professors for larger projects, to make sure I’m on the right track, or not pursuing something disconnected. One example was to check we had performed a thorough enough analysis when working on a group project based on the economic crisis in Russia, but we got a positive answer.
I was surprised to find some business schools don’t cover the subject of sustainability as thoroughly as RSM does. I discovered this during a business plan competition when I was talking to members of other teams from other business schools. We have been exposed to the concepts of sustainability in business from Day 1, with lectures and simulations plus a full class about this topic, which is part of the core curriculum. But it’s not just the one class about sustainability where the subject is discussed. It’s always mentioned and always discussed in every part of the course, even by one of the private equity firms we visited on the international study TRIP in Brussels. More people are becoming aware that you should always be thinking about how decisions impact all stakeholders.
I have been in leadership roles in the past and I’m definitely looking for that in my future career, but I think I’ll be a different type of leader because of my studies at RSM. Business education is one part of the experience here, but the cultural diversity and team work has also played a big part in my personal development and given me exposure to things I didn’t think about before – for example how the function of human resources influences corporate strategy. There have been excellent speakers during the Personal Leadership Development programme and we’ve been given some superb insights into what it’s like to be a high level manager. I think it’s also important to have the experience of doing 360° reviews and receiving feedback from your team members during the projects. They can show you some things you perhaps don’t recognise about yourself and help you to understand the areas in which you could improve.
In the busiest of times I spend an enormous amount of time on campus, from 08.30 in the morning, sometimes until 10.30 or so at night, when the building closes. The main part of the day is for classes, then we have team meetings and you just have to stay here until the work is done. When it’s less busy I try to get home for dinner with my wife, and also I try to keep weekends free.
She’s Austrian, and she was keen to come to Rotterdam too. We had talked for a while about returning to Europe and she really likes Rotterdam. She has found a network of friends and we’ve both embraced travelling by bicycle. As I would be living here with my wife, I thought it was important to find somewhere nice to live. RSM put us in touch with a real estate agent and we found an apartment we really like, with a small garden and 10 minutes by bike from university. It was all arranged over the internet.
I think I have joined all the clubs at RSM and I’m an active participant. I have also spent a lot of time taking part in business competitions . My team was selected to participate in the European Business Plan of The Year competition at Cranfield University School of Business in the UK. We didn’t win but it was an amazing experience to sit across from important venture capitalists listening to their expert views on how to improve our business ideas and business plans. We’ve also taken part in venture capital competitions – I think competitions are ‘my thing’, and I think I learn a lot through them. I came to RSM knowing exactly what I wanted to do, in what industry but since I’ve been here a whole lot of other ideas have popped into my head. That’s a good thing – I’ve found out about jobs, careers and industries that I didn’t know existed. As I previously worked for Philips in New York, I’ve investigated a few opportunities with Philips Europe but lately I have also considered starting my own business.
There are a number of career activities set up here and I’ve attended all of the career boards which have been informative. There have also been seminars about preparing résumés and writing cover letters, and other events – company visits scheduled through the careers office and the study clubs. I’ve done some networking myself on open days and events hosted by other MBA programmes here, through people I already know here and friends of friends. I think I’ve been fairly active in that regard.
I’ve also tried to do some things that are not connected to school at all – for example I’ve been learning to play blues and jazz on the harmonica by taking lessons from a great player in Delft.
My wife and I try to make the most of the opportunity of being in Europe, and we love to travel. We stayed in Berlin for a few days at the end of Term 2; it’s one of my favourite cities. We visited Spain in early spring, which I was never able to do before, and we’ve had fun exploring the Netherlands too.
This is the first time I’ve been without a car for a few years. My bike is great! I don’t know why you would need a car here because you can easily ride all over the city; my supermarket is just down the street, the campus is 10 minutes away, and public transport here is really good.
Korea Advanced Institute of Science & technology
Industrial engineering Manager – A.T. Kearney (global management consultants)
I’m married with two small children, and my family are with me here in Rotterdam, so my life is a little bit different to that of a single guy. It was a big change for my wife to leave the support of our family in Korea, so now she needs more of my support to raise our children. My daughter goes to Dutch kindergarten now, but will start attending an international school soon. She’s already speaking Dutch and I know very little, so I should learn it fast! The Dutch kindergarten has provided a small international network of other mothers for my wife to join, and my daughter has made friends too.
It’s a five minute walk and a 20 minute tram ride from home to the campus. I study with classes in the morning and afternoon, but after school I need to be with my family. I’ve just finished Term 2 and the Living Management Project. The two first terms are very different; Term 1 is background and preparation in quantitative studies and dealing with numbers. Term 2 delivers more of the things you might expect like finance strategy and marketing.
I’m OK with all kinds of food and I have a Dutch-style lunch, although I would prefer to eat something warm rather than just a sandwich. My wife is a great cook, and we shop at the Korean and Chinese supermarket close to home so we can eat a Korean dinner.
The best thing about RSM is the international and diverse background. In Term 1 I worked on a project with German Dutch, American, Indian and Taiwanese students. In Term 2 I worked with another set of nationalities. You learn to deal with cultural differences in behaviour through working in teams. I had never really worked or met with people from Africa or South America before coming to RSM.
Working in these teams is a bit stressful, but it’s up to you to be active and speak up. At first I was a bit shy; I preferred to stay quiet and watch, but I decided I needed to change and become more active. I volunteered to be a team coordinator and it was a great experience for me to handle people from different backgrounds. In Term 1 I did some team co-ordination work, but I couldn’t contribute much with contents and generating new ideas. In Term 2 I changed my mind again and decided to be more active in contributing to the team. I became more active in a consulting role and a ‘subject matter leader’ in the strategic management project. So I’ve tried two different roles and really tried to become active and participate more – that way you get more out of the programme.
I found I needed time to adjust to lectures in English and had to push myself to express my opinion in English too, but I still feel I could do more. I try to sit where I have eye contact with the teacher and can also see the other students. But language wasn’t the only difference – there’s a cultural difference too. In Asia we accept what lecturers are saying but here it’s much more interactive and I needed time to become accustomed to that too. If I have questions, I usually ask in class, or straight afterwards – I prefer face to face conversations rather than emails if I need more information quickly.
But all lectures are different. The lecturers are well prepared; you add knowledge and learn something new every time. Personally, I enjoy the lectures in soft skills such as human resources management and organisational behaviour. I’m learning a lot from these, and I’m very interested in these subject areas. As a consultant I had to have leadership skills to be able to lead my clients and my team of subordinate consultants to get results. I still need to learn more to get higher up in an organisation. I’m not sure whether I can learn it by education, but I can certainly learn what it is. Leadership is not just saying, but by acting in that way too.
I didn’t know much about sustainability before now because I didn’t have much experience of it. I’m learning about how important it is, and what I should and can do with sustainability in the future. It’s a very strong theme at RSM and it’s a fundamental thing for a manager to know.
One reason why I started the MBA at RSM was to get some international working experience after ten years working in Korea. Here I can be interviewed by companies in Europe, either management consultancies or in industry operations. My expertise is in supply change management so I’d like to work in a supply chain function perhaps in a high tech company either in the Netherlands or in the UK, where I have attended career fairs and felt comfortable with the language. I will need to learn Dutch if I want to work here in the Netherlands.
RSM Alumni organised a gathering in South Korea, and Korean companies have strong contacts with the Netherlands, so I actually met alumni before I came here. I got some useful information. I would like to do the same and become an active alumni member. It would be good for networking and my future work.
I try to join in the RSM activities, but Friday nights and weekends are for the family. I’ll join something if I really want to. I’ve enjoyed attending the PechaKucha workshops where people from all walks of life share their experiences – we’ve heard about drilling under the sea, piloting aircraft and photography projects. It’s a form of fast-paced slideshow from Japan, and one way to improve your presentation skills!
At the weekend I spend time with my family. The RSM housing office provided us with an apartment, and the family is happy there. I actually have more time for my family here in Rotterdam than I did back home in Seoul, even though I’m so busy with studies. Rotterdam is centrally placed in Europe, and it’s a great travelling experience for us all. We’ve visited a lot of other cities in the Netherlands, and Brussels and Antwerp.
On Sundays we go to the Korean church in Rotterdam; this was bigger than I expected and we fit into the social network. As a family we like to go to the woods and the lake at Kralingse Bos park – we drive the short distance as my children are very young. But we take the baby stroller when we visit the city. Public transport here is excellent for people like us and Rotterdam is a wonderful place for kids. I can always find places for my children to play in parks; it’s a very friendly environment for them.
MSc Economics, Moscow State University
L’Oreal Brand Manager
My programme is more than halfway through now, and I can honestly say that I’m enjoying every day. It’s a different kind of pressure from the pressure of work, but it’s enjoyable, and this might be the last time that I have the chance to be a student.
I live on my own in one of the residencies, but I spend most of my time on campus, which is about ten minutes’ walk away.
Here at RSM, students are expected to participate in lectures; they are very interactive with discussions between students and the teacher, and between students too, which I found very unusual at the beginning, and very different to Moscow State University. When someone makes a comment, the teacher shows how it fits into the whole discussion and links it to what’s been discussed before. I’m not typical student like this – I’m still getting used to it, so I listen and make notes.
We are awarded grades for participation in lectures, so I’m more motivated to speak up here but still sometimes I have to push myself. I might ask some questions or make remarks but there are others who are more vocal than me. It’s not a matter of the language; it’s the size of the group. I’m pretty comfortable making formal presentations; I have been trained to do this at work and I usually feel comfortable with the topic, but I’m still getting used to big and wide-ranging discussions.
We have group tasks as well as individual ones. Every term we are assigned to a group of five or six students of mixed nationalities for a group assignments; writing a project, making a presentation or working on a calculation. This is another important part of the learning process. I feel comfortable being in a big group of equals. You’re all working on the same goal, waiting for the good ideas to come, and in these situations I feel more comfortable speaking in front of a small group rather than a bigger audience.
Working in the projects takes place on campus, or sometimes in the evenings in one of the student’s apartments, or perhaps we’ll work on sections of it individually at home, and then have a conference call about it on Skype.
There is some assistance with career planning. We have had coaching sessions and see a coach regularly; I’m about to visit mine for a second one-to-one session. I want experience of working in Europe so I need a qualification from a respected European institute. I know that I love marketing, so I’ll concentrate on this and climb the career ladder working on consumer goods. I’m looking at a wide range of opportunities; perhaps my career will be working on something that I didn’t expect. I’m open to ideas, and I’ve already seen that there is some interest in me.
I’m currently just enjoying my studies and waiting to see what happens when I put my CV out. My careers coach sees opportunities for me, so I know I’m on the right track. The career department sends out students’ CVs too. They also host workshops giving practical advice on CVs, interviews and writing cover letters.
I really like the Netherlands and would consider staying here after graduation, although I haven’t yet learned any of the language because my studies keep me very busy. However, I do speak Italian and I really like Italy so I would consider working there too.
RSM has a large Alumni network, and some Alumni remain in close contact with the School. I’m one of the first to sign up for the Alumni mentorship programme, and I’m waiting to see who will become my mentor. I hope to get some insights into planning my career, and perhaps personal or practical insights from someone at a senior level of management.
Recent graduates and other Alumni have also helped us by running mock interviews and giving feedback. I think this helps them too – they’re gaining experience in interviewing.
The large percentage of international students at RSM was one of the reasons why I chose to come here. It made me think that I could easily be part of this school and wouldn’t feel like a ‘foreigner’; a very large number of international students means we are all equal and in the same situation. It’s also very attractive from a learning perspective; sometimes there are no differences between people of different cultures, but at other times you must adjust or modify your behaviour. Normal behaviour for you in your own country may look strange to someone from another culture and it’s important to understand that some basic elements of behaviour can be understood in different ways. The Netherlands is very much an international country and it felt easy to become part of society here.
I’m accustomed to the idea of sustainability applied to every aspect of business. L’Oreal has modified its production methods to minimise carbon emissions, and the same applies to its suppliers of raw materials, packaging and products who have to carry out rigorous sustainability audits for ethical standards – not using child labour, non-polluting and so on. Manufacturers should be responsible for choosing sustainable suppliers.
So I’ve already seen that sustainability is a trend underlying every aspect of business. Here at RSM all the subjects I study are interconnected and linked to everything else, and it is natural for me to think about issues of sustainability through all my studies.
The idea of following a Leadership Development Programme is still new to me, but I think the whole MBA programme is a form of leadership development. I’m learning how to apply and use my skills and strengths all the time here.
It’s very difficult to find free time here – there are so many events to fill it! First of all, I underestimated the workload, which presents a different pressure to the pressure from work. At RSM you cover so many different subjects at one time, in the same day, and you’re working on several different projects too. But that doesn’t mean there is no leisure time or no social life – that’s also very busy, and that makes being here so great.
People on the MBA programme are very dynamic and friendly, and organise so many parties and events. There are birthdays and bike tours, and bigger outings too. On Queen’s Day we rented a boat to sail around Amsterdam and had a great time. I went to Paris to support RSM sports competitors in a tournament between European business schools, and there was a drinks reception in the Faculty Club after our exams a couple of weeks ago and so on. I’m very impressed with those who lead the student clubs and put so much effort into organising events to enhance our professional contacts, such as the Women in Management club which puts us in touch with members of the professional women’s society. I like to participate in this kind of thing.
The sports facilities at RSM are good. I’ve joined the Zumba class and I’m enjoying it very much; it’s important to switch the brain off for a bit. And of course I have a bicycle – everyone in Rotterdam has one! I use it at weekends, especially now the weather is nice. We can use the cycle paths all over the city and have found some lovely green places for picnics.
Federal University of Technology, Minna – Mathematics & Computer Science
Intercontinental Bank PLC – Team Leader, Card Operations
I made a personal choice to study at RSM. My decision was based on rankings and the information I found on the internet. My thinking was that if I was going to study in another part of the world, it should be an international place. Here, I can have the world in one place, rather than travel around the world. The high number of international students at RSM was a big positive for me, and it’s true – we do have a large number of nationalities in the programme. I didn’t have much exposure to other cultures when I was working in Nigeria, and I avoided choosing a university in another English-speaking culture for the same reason. I saw that RSM had a huge diversity in its student population and I wanted to learn about working with other cultures from discussions and debates.
But still it was a step into the unknown. I didn’t think any Nigerians had been here before me, but I have found out there have been quite a number! Prospective students should know that there could be RSM alumni from their countries who have been to RSM and could talk about making arrangements – especially for travel documents and visas. I’ve signed up for the Alumni Mentorship programme and I’m waiting to see who my mentor will be.
I intend to be an active alumni member after I graduate, especially when it comes to being in contact with prospective students and other alumni – it’s something I would have found useful myself when choosing where to study.
My experience so far of studying here has been good. I didn't experience a culture shock as might be expected because the people are very friendly and everyone speaks English, even in the markets. What I experienced instead was what I would call a weather shock as we started Term 1 in very unfriendly cold weather! I have learned a lot although it took me a while to get used to being back in school and to serious academic work. Most of the courses were new to me and I had to get the hang of the case study method of teaching. Now I’m in the swing of studying again and in Term 2 I began to see the synergies and inter-relations between courses which make it even more interesting.
I live in one of the residences in a shared apartment about 10 minutes walk away, so it’s really convenient for coming onto the campus, and for the supermarket and other shops. I spend most of my time either on campus or at home.
There isn’t a typical day here; everything fits around lectures, team meetings and assignments. We have lectures every day, from Monday to Thursday. They can be very interactive and the discussions can be very wide-ranging. If we do have questions afterwards, the teachers are very good at responding to our emails. There’s also a lot of discussion about the academic subjects outside of lectures between students too – I find these discussions equally useful.
On Fridays we follow the career development programme with the MBA Career Development Centre. We’ve had invited speakers coming in to talk about interviewing skills and leadership skills. Everything I’ve learned in these sessions has been useful.
The emphasis isn’t just on studying. The programme teaches other skills too. Understanding the motivations of others is one of the skills we have learned in the Personal Leadership Development programme, and that has really added value for me. The purpose is to equip us with tools to better understand human interaction and make sense of issues from other perspectives. The first assignment was a reflective one. We were asked to think about a critical incident we had encountered and to reappraise it having learned new frameworks, and to consider it from the other person's perspective.
The Living Management project has been an interesting challenge too. It’s a view of consultancy work that I wouldn’t have had otherwise and a peek into the challenge faced by the company we are analysing.
There are a lot of deadlines for assignments and reports – that seems to be the toughest aspect of studying here. Sometimes I would like to have a few days just to review and co-ordinate what I have learned. Weekdays are busy and most times we’re on campus working on our team projects until the evening. Usually lectures finish at 4:30pm and I use the rest of the day to do more reading in preparation for the next day's classes. I think most students try to keep the weekends open and free from work, at least to have a breather but this doesn't always happen!
One of the reasons I chose to do an MBA is to learn something new and be able to change directions, from working in the banking industry to something else after graduation. Previously I worked for an international banking group based in Nigeria, and after graduation I’ll have more options. I’m interested in the oil industry, which is one of the most structured industries in Nigeria, so has common links with other global industries. I don’t think sustainability is a strong part of the Nigerian culture yet. There are perhaps other issues to be dealt with first, such as education and health, but I think sustainability should come more to the front of peoples’ consciousness. Where do you start?
I don’t seem to have a lot of free time. However, there are lots of invitations to social events and the clubs for sports and other activities are always open. Lots of students find using the gym regularly or participating in the student club activities a good way to relax and every student is an automatic member of the clubs.
I don’t think I want to return to Nigeria immediately, and I would consider working anywhere to gain exposure to business in other parts of the world. Staying in the Netherlands would be an easy decision, but we’ll see how it goes.