Friday, September 27, 2013

Interview with Maryke Luijendijk-Steenkamp, Director of Marketing and Admissions at the Rotterdam School of Management

I'm pleased to present this interview with Maryke Luijendijk-Steenkamp, Director of Marketing and Admissions at the Rotterdam School of Management (RSM). 


How would you define the current strength(s) of the program? I recall when I visited the campus that the marketing curriculum was a particular strength.

We offer a general management academic basis during the first six months of the programme. For the second half of the programme, participants can choose to do what we call a “Career Concentration”. The concentration can be in Finance, Marketing or Strategy. Another key strength is that we offer a truly international business environment. We believe that learning from other cultures and views on business and life are a real advantage at RSM.

Are your classes lecture-based or case-study based?

We have various methods of teaching. The majority of our lectures are case-study based. However, we do also incorporate a lot of guest speakers and industry presentations. Most of our classes comprise group work where small study groups will work on assignments, feedback sessions, presentations, problem analysis etc.

Is it possible to do an internship given the time constraints in the program?

We have an optional internship at the end of the programme. Participants who, in conversation with our Career Development Centre, feel that they need an internship for their career goals can choose to do the internship from December onwards. Career Development Centre offers support in securing the internship.


Why don't you require a TOEFL score? How do you assess an applicant's English ability?

We will assess an applicant’s English ability through various means. We will evaluate the application essays. Admissions interviews in English are compulsory for all candidates, most taking place in person. Thus, we can assess through the interview whether the candidate’s working knowledge of English is of a sufficient level to engage in the MBA class.

Who conducts interviews? What tips would you offer someone preparing for their RSM interview?

Our interviews are conducted by alumni and/or staff members. We try to look for alumni located in the areas where participants live to ensure personal interviews and/or sometimes RSM staff travel to interview destinations. Alternatively we conduct Skype or phone interviews.

Among all the programs I have come across, RSM stands out in terms of the strength of the relationships the program's admissions office aims to establish with applicants. Why is this important? What during this process do applicants tend do well, and what do they not do well?

You are absolutely right – we really believe in a personalised admissions approach at RSM. We like to counsel our prospective candidates to ensure that, when they ultimately come to RSM, they have made an informed choice. We like to do pre-application discussions early on in the search process. This means that prospects can send their CV’s to us and we will set up a conversation with them to check if they are eligible to apply and, more importantly, to see if there is a fit between their MBA aspirations and the RSM MBA.

We want to only attract students that will fit into the RSM environment and that will be happy with the type of programme we offer. I would suggest all applicants to speak to us even before an application. This can be immensely helpful for them in order to make sense of all the MBA offerings out there and to gain first-hand information on our school. We also like to connect them with our current students and alumni that can share more about the MBA experience.

What is the function of the RSM Asia office?

To provide world-class education, RSM has a strong global network. With the RSM Asia office, the school offers a huge potential to corporate partners, prospective students, and alumni, who are based in this dynamic region. As a globally connected business school, RSM will provide a range of services from its new office in Taipei. Alumni will be supported in strengthening our local alumni chapters, such as those active in Taiwan and Japan.

As RSM’s corporate network in Asia will be maintained and expanded, RSM’s Career Development Centre will offer career guidance to local alumni with the support of RSM’s business partners in the region. Lectures by RSM faculty and local events will be organised to offer alumni lifelong learning opportunities. In addition to short courses in Asia, professionals can participate in RSM degree or executive education programmes in Rotterdam.

In addition to supporting marketing and recruitment efforts in the Asia region, the RSM Asia office serves as a central point of contact for prospective MBA candidates based in Asia to guide them through their information seeking and application process. They can participate in activities, network with alumni, and attend information sessions by RSM’s representatives.

Life in Rotterdam

Can you tell us a bit about the benefits of living in this part of the world?

It is great to live in a country that is so connected to the rest of the world. Schiphol airport (28 minutes away by train) flies directly to almost any international destination. The Netherlands is a traditional nation of traders and as such their business acumen and entrepreneurial spirit spills over into the MBA environment.

When it comes to internationals living in the Netherlands, I can confidently say – being an expat myself – that this is one of the best expat locations in the world. Almost everyone speaks English here and the visa regulations are quite open and easy compared to other countries. There is even a specific beneficial tax ruling as an incentive for foreigners to live and work in The Netherlands!

Furthermore, the lifestyle here is safe and relaxed. It is great to be able to ride your bike anywhere you want to go and to have services and amenities that make life very easy.

In what ways (clubs, events) do students interact outside of class?

Our students can join a number of professional and social clubs, run by the Student Association. Details can be found at

Since 96% of our students come from abroad, it means that all your classmates have relocated to Rotterdam as well and are going through the same experiences. This makes for a very close-knit group of students that all want to make the most of their time here. They arrange various international trips and activities throughout the year and spend a lot of time together in the city.  

How do RSM students collaborate or get to know students in the greater Erasmus University? What benefits can be realized there?

Our students are free to tap into all the facilities and opportunities the greater Erasmus University offers. This adds greatly to their network and depth of experience. They can join and liaise with the University student clubs and can join the activities on offer on campus.

After the MBA

Can you tell us a bit about your Career Services, and how they prepare students to enter the job market?

Our Career Development Centre offers a personalised career service. All our participants receive a Career Coach that will work with them personally throughout the year. In conversation with their coach, participants will work on their job search.

The process is broken into four rough “stages” – Who am I? What do I want? How do I get it? Get it? All Career activities are geared towards this process.

Apart from coaching our students are also connected with alumni mentors that guide them. Activities and workshops such as CV writing sessions, interview training, salary negotiation, case cracking, networking skills etc. are taking place on a regular basis throughout the year.

We are happy to see that these efforts pay off since we place an average of 89% of our students within three months after graduation, 76% of which are in Europe.

Thanks Maryke for your time!

John Couke

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Wharton MBA Course Content available on Coursera

Wharton will be offering the contents of core MBA courses via the online Coursera platform over the course of the fall of 2013. Courses will include the following topics: Financial Accounting, Operations Management, Marketing, and Corporate Finance.

Each of these topics are fundamental core courses in the vast majority of business programs. They are useful for :

- exploring typical MBA course material for those thinking of applying to an MBA
- exploring typical MBA course material for those who aren't interested in applying to an MBA but interested in gaining fundamental skills in any of these areas
- international MBA applicants interested in developing their listening skills at an appropriate level
- international people interested in learning a fundamental business skill in English

Here is the link to the Coursera blog that announces the availability of this new program.  Take a look!

John Couke

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Interview with Rick Doyle, Global Marketing Manager at ESMT in Berlin, Germany

I am pleased to offer an interview with Rick Doyle, Global Marketing Manager at ESMT, the European School of Management and Technology in Berlin, Germany. ESMT is a well-established business school with graduates in over 40 countries.

Life in the MBA

Your program has only 53 students this year (2013). Why such a small class?

The ESMT MBA remains small by design. In order to maintain a very close working relationship with the students we will restrict our intake to the January 2014 class to no more than 60 students and maintain the near 90% international mix of the class. This intake will be slightly a bit larger than our current class, but we will still be able to maintain a student/ faculty ratio of less than 2:1. The ESMT MBA is a general MBA program with specializations in Innovation and Technology Management and Global Sustainable Business. The smaller classes size allows students to easily work on consulting projects directly with companies during the MBA. 

I saw that at ESMT students each have a dedicated career counselor. What percentage of students are career changers, and can you provide some more information about how ESMT supports students as they find their next position?

In the last graduating class over 80% of the students changed either their field, sector or working-language in their career and over 20% changed all three. Many ESMT graduates tend to move into technology-driven companies which o are growing internationally. These could an be global players such as those represented among in the schools 25 founders (e.g. Siemens, MAN, Daimler, etc.) or emerging high-tech companies that are flocking to the area around Berlin, among others. Next in terms of popularity is consultingConsulting is quite a popular option for graduates, which and is a sector which is also present among the school’s founders - with McKinsey, BCG, and KPMG, and McKinsey. Relatively few ESMT graduates go into banking, although we have had several hires in recent years in the risk management sector in Germany. ESMT students have individual sessions with a Career Coach during the program. Career services are part of the curriculum and regular seminars focusing on career preparation and progress, including soft skills (public speaking, negotiation, leadership, etc.), are built in. Companies visit campus for career days, but most students find their jobs as a result of networking directly in their field. Every year some are offered a few students also jobs as a result of their consulting projects during the program.

Life During the Program

What are some of the benefits of doing an MBA in Germany?

Germany has avoided the recession felt my many other European countries, thus the job prospects are still strong for ESMT graduates. About 60% of graduates each year end up working in Germany and overall about 75% find work in Europe. With this in mind, Germany has some of the most liberal work permit options for graduates. They are able to stay in Germany for 18 months following graduation as a job seeker, if necessary. Upon finding a job, the work permit is granted in all but very exceptional cases. During the MBA program at ESMT students have the opportunity to work directly with companies, many of them based in Germany. This first-hand knowledge with the companies helps them understand what working for a German company is like before they enter the work force. This is also a key step in building their network for their job search. Studying in Berlin also presents the opportunity for students to immerse themselves into the ever-growing start-up culture here in Berlin. Many graduates find themselves taking on challenges and starting up new ventures that they never thought possible.

What's it like for ESMT MBA students living in Berlin?  

Berlin is one of the most dynamic cities in Europe at the moment. Because of the rich start-up culture here there are always new ideas and companies popping up. There are literally thousands of cultural activities going on all around the city throughout the year. English is widely spoken in Berlin so communicating upon arrival is not a problem. Students will study German during the program so they will have the opportunity to practice during their time in Berlin. Residents of Berlin are also fortunate to have one of the lowest costs of living of any major European capital city. We advise students to budget about 1000-1500 Euros per month for living expenses, including food and housing.


Is your TOEFL minimum (100) strict? Should someone with a 97 or 99 not bother applying?  

The language of instruction of all of the degree programs at ESMT (MIM, MBA and EMBA) is English. The MBA in particular is an intense program of only 12 months so speaking English well is essential. We do try as much as possible to consider applicants who may have a TOEFL a few points below the 100 score. The GMAT and the application interview are also additional ways that we are able to assess an applicant’s English ability.

How important is it that applicants have some global exposure prior to enrolling? 

99% of our students have international experience prior to starting the program so it is an aspect of an applicant’s profile which we look for. Applicants should, however, keep in mind that there are other ways to gain international experience and exposure than physically working outside of your home country. Working on international teams, or on projects in which you work with a global network of people is one way, for example. Be sure to elaborate on these aspects of your professional experience where appropriate in the application and interview.

Other Programs

I've heard there will be a new MA program at ESMT shortly. Could you tell us a bit about it?

A few weeks ago we did launch our new Master’s in Management (MIM) program. It is a two year program which will target applicants with less than 1 year of work experience following their bachelor’s degree. An ideal candidate will have a degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics or a strong quantitative focus. The coursework includes a business management core followed by specializations in areas such as: market analysis, supply chain management and innovation consulting. There is also a required social impact project and a six month internship in a company as part of the program in addition to the master’s thesis internship. The current list of companies which have agreed to host MIM interns during the program includes: Allianz, Axel Springer, Bosch, Deutsche Post DHL, E.on, Gazprom, McKinsey & Company, Siemens and Thyssenkrupp. We expect the list to grow as we near the program start date of September 2014.

Thanks Rick for your time!

John Couke