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Erasmus (Rotterdam) MBA Admission and Related Blogs!

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Erasmus (Rotterdam) MBA Admission and Related Blogs! [#permalink]

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New post 19 Jun 2017, 02:23

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“Listen naively” [#permalink]

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New post 25 Jul 2017, 00:01
FROM Erasmus(Rotterdam) MBA Blog: “Listen naively”
I was torn. My mother had passed away a little over a month before I was scheduled to attend the study tour in South Africa, and I was not sure if I wanted to traipse off to another continent amid my grief. After much internal deliberations, I eventually decided to capitalize on this opportunity, especially after one of my older sisters offered me some practical advice. However, this still did not fully appease my guilt. While on the trip, there were moments of doubt and self-condemnation, especially when I was in alone in my hotel room.

The journey to South Africa began at the start of the year when a presentation by the Executive MBA Program Manager at Rotterdam School of Management highlighted the country’s immense potential for sustainable business opportunities. I knew immediately that I wanted to be part of this experience.

On June 30th, I departed out of Toronto’s Pearson Airport, never reaching my hotel in Johannesburg until July 2. I was exhausted, but excited at the prospect of going on my first safari to Pilanesberg National Park two hours after I arrived at the Crowne Plaza hotel.

The safari, organized by UNC’s OneMBA17 student Ryan Cartwright, was amazing. Out in the wild in an open vehicle, we meandered through the mountains at Pilanesberg Park, viewing the animals in their natural habitat. A herd of elephants, a zebra, antelopes, and a giraffe are a few of the species we came across while on the trip.

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En-route to Pilanesberg, we stopped at a traditional African roadside curio and craft market where we participated in good-natured ‘haggling’ with the local sellers over stunningly crafted souvenir items, before settling on an agreed price.

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Monday July 3, the contingent that was based in Johannesburg (half of the Executive MBA18 class was in Cape Town) piled into buses and headed to Gordon Institute of Business Science – an affiliation of the University of Pretoria.

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It was evident from our first classroom session with Abdullah Hassen Verachia – CEO, Program Director, and Speaker about the high caliber of speakers and professors we would be privileged to gain insights from during the week.

One such insight was the 40 times 5 dilemma facing South Africa’s poor and middle class:

1. 40% disposable income spent on transportation to get to work

2. They travel an average distance to work that is 40km or more

3. On average, they spend 40% disposable income on groceries per family

4. The majority live in 40 square meter homes; and

5. 40% are employed

Later that day we revisited history under the capable guidance of Professor Anthony Prangley. As we traced South Africa’s history from its turbulent past to the struggles it still faces today, one thing was clear – the country still feels the effects of the apartheid movement, especially the those at the bottom of the pyramid. Our visits to The Constitutional Court, and the former women’s prison where Winnie Mandela and other notable political prisoners were held was surreal. Hearing the stories about the brutality they faced and the hardship of their prison experience was sometimes too much to absorb.

Constitution Hill represents the hub of South Africa’s bitter past.

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The Constitutional Court – written in all 11 languages of the country.
After such an emotionally draining day, we headed back to GIBS – Gordon Institute of Business Science, for a much-needed de-stressor: dinner followed by karaoke!

On Tuesday, we had the remarkable Professor Tashmia Ismail who tackled the issue of innovation at the base of the pyramid. She showed us a video that provoked a very strong reaction from me. The video depicted a group of men from a poor village in the Congo, who after work would dress in brand name Western clothing to indicate that they were not defined by their circumstances. She said that it represented hope.

I wondered aloud if there were no traditional, Congo garb that could project the same image.

It was at that time that she uttered the words, “Listen naively – suspend judgement.” Despite those words, I was still not convinced about the cultural appropriateness of the video she presented.

After a highly charged and informative session, we grouped into smaller batches and proceeded on various company visits. Along with several others, I was assigned to Royal HaskoningDHV. This was an enlightening experience. It was there that I learned about BBBEE – Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment – a system put in place to close the gap between whites and non-whites that was created by apartheid. The government closely monitors this system, and depending on the what the company’s score is, they will not be able to get government projects etc. Level 4 is the minimum requirement for a company to attain.

(One interesting fact about the BBBEE, is that all immigrants are classified as “whites” quota of management.)

The midway point of the trip – Wednesday, we visited the township of Alexandra. Rich in history, this visit elicited a plethora of emotions from me. I laughed, I cried. I was distressed, I was hopeful. But I learned a lot. The townships are where the poor live, and while the conditions are far from ideal, the people seems so joyful. Another thing that stuck me, is how innovative they are. Sometimes only possessing very limited resources, financial and otherwise, they still manage to carve out thriving businesses. This is one of the greatest learning moments for me from this trip – for a long time I was waiting on the ‘right’ conditions, resources, and time, but from this experience, I now know that I should create the moments and things will fall into place.

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An overview of the Township, Alexandra (lovingly referred to as ‘Alex’)
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Our tour guide to Alexandra was amazing, and give us the true experience. Our first stop was at a small orphanage – “Joy for One.” It was spotless and bright, but the circumstances of some of the residents were dark and dismal. This too was an emotional visit for me.

Next up, we stopped Kasi Boutique. The owner, Lesego in April of this year created opportunity for local designers from Alexandra by selling their clothing in his fashion store. We also visited the house Nelson Mandela lived while he was in Alexandra, and the heart of the township where the protesting students were killed during apartheid.

We ended this fascinating day at a ‘shebeen’ where we danced (the adventurous ones) to African music, and generally get to know a little more about our tour guides, and other participants on the trip.

One of the most profound experience on this entire trip, was my visit on Thursday to the African Leadership Academy. Children from all levels of society were selected to attend this prestigious institution. Some came from refugee camps, some are the children of diplomats – all studying and living together. This is where I saw HOPE for Africa’s future. I came away feeling a little jealous (I wish I exposed to such teaching as a child!), and a little unaccomplished, but very hopeful.

The day was also highlighted by presentations from Dr. Charlene Lew and Professor Binedell.

On Friday, the Global OneMBA Team # 1 presented our business case on creating sustainable business opportunities that capitalize on the available resources in South Africa. Our team came in 2nd.

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As I packed my suitcase to leave the Crowne Hotel on Saturday July 8th, I could not help but reflect on what an incredible tour it was. It was the perfect mix of academic, history, social impact, and fun. This has been by far my most fulfilling residency.

But, it did not end when I checked out of the hotel. Since my flight was late at night, I decided to join the group that was visiting the Apartheid Museum. I am glad I did. It made my time in South Africa complete.

Footnote: My mom was ill for a while. She passed away on May 26, 2017. But I did get to spend quality time with her before her passing. She was aware that I had planned to be in South Africa, and was very proud that I am part of the OneMBA Program.

*If you wish to donate to the “Joy for One” orphanage, I am happy to send you their bank details.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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Something worth working for [#permalink]

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New post 25 Aug 2017, 06:01
FROM Erasmus(Rotterdam) MBA Blog: Something worth working for
Of course, I was running late. I laugh about it now because that time in my life is over, and I’m early for almost everything now. But this was a long time ago. This was Tuesday, 23 October, 2012, and I caught my train on time, but I still managed to come stampeding into the Bayle building just minutes before my campus visit appointment. I was panting and trying to tuck in my disheveled shirttail while a staff member helped me stuff my luggage into a supply closet. It must have been a sight to see. I took a deep breath, someone called my name, and I guess that was the moment my MBA journey began.

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The Decision
It was late 2011 when I found RSM via online rankings, and I asked my parents if moving to Europe for an MBA was the craziest idea I ever had. “Not quite the craziest,” my dad had said. When I went to the Netherlands for personal travel a year later, I set up the campus visit. I attended a class and had lunch at Maria’s Cantina – two things I would do many more times in the future. I met the friendly and helpful staff in the admissions office, and I learned more about the things that set RSM’s program apart, including its diverse cohort and emphasis on sustainability. When I came home, I knew RSM was the place for me.

The Mission
The following years were spent slowly turning my dream into reality. I registered right away at the local community college to try out some business classes. I’d never taken economics, accounting, marketing, or anything like that before. I ended up taking 17 classes over the next four years, which may have been overkill, but I was desperate to succeed in business school. At the same time, I moved ahead steadily in my career. Eventually, I dug into a stack of prep guides and got ready for the GMAT, too.

I was so focused on my preparations that it almost came as a surprise when it was time to apply. Soon, the application was filled out, references delivered, GMAT taken, transcripts sent. Then the interview. Then the wait. I was standing at my bathroom sink getting ready for work when the phone rang with a +31 country code. A kind voice on the other end told me my dream had come true. I was shaking, and my earrings rattled against the phone screen. I couldn’t catch my breath. I’ll never forget that morning.

The Beginning
Pretty soon, I was packing my bags and saying goodbye to my family in Nebraska. On a cold January day, I stepped onto campus as an MBA candidate for the first time. I met approximately 100 of my closest new friends. I got my RSM sweatshirt and my much-anticipated “I WILL” photo. I hopped on a bike and glided through streets, through days, through weeks. Almost eight months later, it still feels like something out of a dream. And I guess that’s because it is. This journey is far from over, and I’m enjoying every minute of it.

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ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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My MBA Journey into Global Businesses [#permalink]

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New post 20 Sep 2017, 01:01
FROM Erasmus(Rotterdam) MBA Blog: My MBA Journey into Global Businesses
By Mohammad Ali Khawaja (OneMBA 2017)

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Standing in the Westin Alexandria Hotel lobby in Washington DC on 20th September 2015, I had a strange and an uneasy feeling. I was standing there watching people from different parts of the world. At that time in 2015, I had just started settling in Netherlands after moving there from Pakistan in 2013. However, I decided to embark on OneMBA journey which was going to be challenging regarding work, family, and finances. Since then it had been a roller coaster ride for 21 months. In this blog past I am sharing some of the important aspects of my OneMBA experience.

While drafting the group values with my first global team in the US, the tensions were high. Everyone on the team was motivated and full of energy however it seemed that the team members were on a different page. The common understanding of simple things was missing among the members of our team who were from Netherlands, Mexico, China, India and Pakistan. It was déjà vu for me as I had gone through a lot of those issues at my workplace when I first moved to Netherlands. However, going through the stages of forming, storming, and norming we finally reached performing in around two months. Then amazing things started happening. Our team discussions became much more enriching and pleasant. The work which we were doing as a group became more than the sum of its parts. In the end, our team performed extraordinarily well both in “Global Operations Management” and “Leading and Managing in Global Organizations” courses. Even after the team was dismantled, the team members remained in close contact. Besides, the learnings in team dynamics there was a much stronger lesson on how diversity adds to creative ideas and innovation. When people from different cultures and perspectives come together, they generate ideas and create solutions in ways unfathomable for an individual.

During the European residency in March 2016 in Rotterdam, Dr Jan Pieter Balkenende (ex-Prime Minister of Netherlands) talked about the upcoming Brexit referendum in UK. He mentioned that it would be a close vote as many people across the western world see globalization as a root cause of many current issues. He was of the opinion that the main reason of public discontent was the political elite’s lack of touch with the ground realities rather globalization itself. Later on, Britain voted in favour of Brexit. In my view that lecture and then Brexit result was a very critical lesson. The business (as well as politics) is balancing act on many dimensions. There is no right formula for success as the right approach depends on the context and circumstances. The political elite, who only sing praises about globalization, alienated a significant number of people who lost their jobs in the rapidly changing marketplace. The companies which just stick to the single successful formula regarding financial structure (debt vs equity), marketing strategy (global vs local), organization structure (centralized vs decentralized), and logistics and operations (insourced vs outsourced) also soon lose touch with real business drivers. The central element to be successful in the business world is to balance the organization on these dimensions according to the market forces.

I was with my global MBA cohorts on the night of 7th November 2016, and we were preparing to board the flight from Sao Paulo to Mexico City. It was an important night since US election results were to be announced later that night. Everyone was interested in the results however we were all boarding a 10-hour flight which did not have Wi-Fi connectivity. Most people were confident that Americans had made a logical choice for Hillary Clinton (as the polls were showing). However next morning in Mexico City there was a surprise waiting for us. One businessman, who according to many experts has no political skills, had turned the US political landscape upside down. Trump was considered a joke in political world until he gathered enough hard-core supporters to tip the whole environment in his favour. The results were baffling for many people like me who are gradualists, who believe in steady change with respect to time. However, most systems and organizations are not linear, and results do not come out as a proportion to the effort applied. As Malcom Gladwell mentioned in his book “Tipping Point”, trivial actions at the right time, in the right environment, and with the right people can create a tipping point. In many change management initiatives in organizations, we need to achieve the tipping point with core supporters of that idea before it starts being adopted automatically.

Moving to the Netherlands in 2013 was not an easy decision to make as the prospect of moving to an entirely new place, with no friends or family. It was like resetting my life and learning many basic things all over again; greetings, meal timings and deciphering road signs to name a few. However it furthered my desire to explore the unknown and to challenge the comfort zone, and I went to my next adventure in Global OneMBA program. In my exciting MBA journey, I travelled across the globe, understood the complexity of global business, learned comparative management and made magnificent friends. But the most important thing which I realized is that world is full of amazing variations, opportunities and avenues, and how little I have explored. According to Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” and I just took that first step.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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The EMBA diary: Cape Town Crusaders [#permalink]

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New post 03 Oct 2017, 08:01
FROM Erasmus(Rotterdam) MBA Blog: The EMBA diary: Cape Town Crusaders
By: Jasper Joosse, Can Herguner, Ssi Li, Allard Schwencke, Jara Pascual, Ines Rodriguez and Stefano Iannacone

Either we accept it or not, people think in stereotypes. We have heard many times that MBA students only think in terms of the return on investment (ROI) of their degree. Being currently through an MBA programme ourselves, we are confident to say that this is far from the truth.

In addition to equipping us with the skills to identify a good investment from a bad one, a business school should also provide an insight into the differences between price and value. For those willing to take this lesson on board, that idea will stay with you for a lifetime. As John Ruskin (a Victorian art critic and philanthropist 1819 – 1900) said: “The highest reward for a person’s toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it.”

That’s our take on ROI.

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“A force for positive change” we all believe RSM vision resonates within all of us. The world is facing big societal, economic, and ecological challenges, and as students of RSM we spouse the idea that business is a powerful instrument for solving them.

As a fundamental part of our EMBA degree at RSM, we joined the South Africa Study Tour, a full immersion week of academic and non-academic initiatives aimed to let us understand what the role of business is in emerging markets, and how business can tackle wicked problems such as inequality, poverty, and climate change.

As team B4 we went to Cape Town, hosted by the Graduate Business School of Cape Town (GSB).

Cape Town (CT) is the economic hub of the Western Cape Province, containing the majority of job opportunities. During the past years, CT enjoyed a booming GDP with a growth rate at an average of 3.7% a year.  However, many people still live in extreme poverty, cramped into unhygienic shacks with high levels of teenage pregnancy, rampant gang crime and high school-dropout rates. Education and opportunities are luxuries they couldn’t afford without donations, volunteers, and consultation services.

Inspired by the mission of our business school, “To contribute to the quality of tomorrow’s society by enabling students to carry out groundbreaking research”, as a team we wanted to create a better tomorrow for future students by supporting The Pebbles Project (www.pebblesproject.co.za). The Pebbles Project is a non-profit organization passionate about supporting children and their families in farming communities in South Africa. We are now sponsoring two small, beautiful children: Jordan and Azaniah.

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Children represent the positive force of the future, this is the reason why, as leaders, we have the obligation to protect them from disadvantaged backgrounds, to enable them to receive quality education, to live within strong family structures, in safe homes and healthy, well-functioning and sustainable communities, and finally to let them become the future leaders of their communities.

This gesture helped all of us take a fresh look at ourselves. It solidified our legacy not only as EMBA students but as friends in our life long journey together with a common inspiration. We all have learned that “If you get to know more about yourself, that’s a good ROI!” We could not agree more.

The Cape Town crusaders (from left): Stefano, Ines, the 2 navigators during the Township visit, Allard, Jara, Jasper, Ssi, Paul (staff from GBS), the restaurant owner, Can.

What we did is just a drop in the ocean. There are many more children to help. Interested to change a child’s future?

Please contact Rachel: sponsorachild@pebblesproject.co.za
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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The EMBA diary: Cape Town Crusaders   [#permalink] 03 Oct 2017, 08:01
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