RSM MBA - Curriculum, Misconception & Sustainability

RSM MBA Curriculum - InterviewAtul Jose, the Editor of F1GMAT interviewed Brandon Kirby, Director of MBA Marketing and Admissions at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University to learn about the RSM Full-time MBA Curriculum and the experiential learning opportunities the course offers.

In the first part of the interview, Brandon shares the biggest misconception about RSM, and how Netherlands’ position as a leader in Sustainability has helped the school integrate Business with Sustainability throughout the curriculum.

What is the biggest misconception about The Rotterdam International MBA program?

I joke with candidates that RSM is the top ten ranked European business school you have not heard of. The Dutch are very humble in that regard.

One of the biggest misconceptions would be that most of our students are Dutch or that you need to speak Dutch to settle/work in the Netherlands. Both are untrue.

Our class is over 95% international every year – a fact that is surprising to many people. Because of this, the classroom environment is extremely diverse and a key part of the candidate’s MBA experience. This also means that we have a high rating in international mobility.

How is the curriculum structured to help MBA candidates build the foundational knowledge in Management?

We’ve designed the first two terms to provide the foundational principles of management – the building blocks that every manager needs to understand in order to be successful in today’s business environment.

In Term 1, we focus on the theory of management, which we accomplish through a carefully created mix of case studies, simulations, and in-group projects. The term is very intense and covers a broad spectrum of topics including Financial Management, Management Science, and Business of Sustainability.

During Term 2, we build on the principles introduced earlier in the program. The courses in the term are also more discipline-focused with traditional courses such as Accounting, Marketing Management, and Operations. In addition, candidates also take classes in Human Resource Management designed to improve their leadership skills.

Throughout the program, all students take courses from our Personal Leadership Development (PLD) track, which provides the opportunity for self-reflection and becoming a better leader.  Personal and group coaching sessions, simulations, and reflection essays are other important parts of the program that help students to learn more about themselves. For most of our students, PLD becomes one of the most memorable aspects of the program.

RSM MBA had focused on Sustainability long before it was fashionable. Can you explain what it means for an MBA candidate?

The Dutch have been leaders in the area of sustainability for many years while also being recognized for their approach to responsible resource management. Our programs were developed by aligning traditional Dutch values with the course content.

By putting a lot of thought on how sustainability would be presented to students, we not only teach students to balance the triple bottom line, but also show how to lead teams and organizations in a sustainable way. Our courses are wide-ranging but include looking at the circular economy and sustainable supply chain, as well as our Personal Leadership Development (PLD) track.

We’ve found that students appreciate our marriage of business and sustainability, which is why we have integrated the concepts throughout the program.

Given the 12-month duration of the program, is there any scope for specialization?

We have carefully created a curriculum that allows general business knowledge and specialization opportunities to coexist within the program. For example, in Term three candidates must select from one of the five Advanced Course tracks to focus their learnings. These courses layer over the general knowledge gained from the first part of the program. For students who are looking to change function or industry, the advanced courses are ideal.

In addition to the more traditional areas of marketing, strategy, and corporate finance, we also offer sustainability and supply chain management as areas of focus.

In Term Four, students have the opportunity to specialize further by selecting four electives from a list of nearly forty different courses. This approach allows candidates to specialize in a particular area or discipline or take a broad spectrum of topics. Each year we review the mix of electives, adding and removing it as determined by market trends and student interests. It’s a great way for us to keep the program fresh and up-to-date.

What are the various experiential learning opportunities for RSM MBA students?

Our students have many opportunities for experiential learning while at RSM. Probably more than I can list here. However, the Living Management Consulting Project, which occurs in term three, is a standout experience in the program.

During the project, groups of students work together with companies on the real-life business challenge, while applying what they have learned during the previous two terms. The project simulates working on a complex, multi-disciplinary issue, but in a learning environment. The groups work together to address the challenge and present their findings to the company with which they are paired.

Students are required to take a study trip to one of the seven destinations with a theme assigned for each trip.

For example, Costa Rica focuses on sustainability, while Lisbon on Entrepreneurism. This experience is a great way to see how business is conducted in another country, as well as focus on a functional area. Since each trip also includes EMBA students, full-time students experience a broader perspective and get the chance to network with an experienced cohort.

These are two of the many experiential learning examples at RSM.


Personal Leadership Track - RSM MBA
RSM MBA - Curriculum Overview

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