Today, we are celebrating your graduations. I am very proud of you all and I am very proud of the fact that you studied here in this world city! And this pride is rightly shown to the city by the flags alongside the Coolsingel and in front of this building the WTC, today.
I am also very proud of the Erasmus University, and this MBA course in particular. Recent research has shown that the majority of the CEOs at the big international companies in the Netherlands studied in Rotterdam. This is the proof that studying in Rotterdam lays a good foundation for those who are ambitious and that this study provides an excellent basis for the future. I hope that you too will recap the benefits.
But there is more. I also hope that you will continue to make use of your network in the search for new solutions. That it will inspire you to fresh initiatives, new products and alternative links, methodologies and insights. In short, to inspire innovation. The world is in need of revival and change. We can see it all around us. New challenges are forcing us to make use of the opportunities available. There is a need for innovation in all areas, in the full sense of the word. Not only concrete physical sectors such as the port and distribution are looking for new ways. The medical and health care sectors, the creative and the social sectors, they all need fresh impulses, visions and ways of working. In this city we are working on innovations.
Rotterdam is worldwide known as an innovative city. Last January, we hosted the Singularity University. Big names from Silicon Valley: leaders from companies and organisations like Google, FBI and NASA shared their knowledge and visions with us. We discussed the latest developments, the high-tech future that lies ahead of us. The concept of Singularity University: a new university that could leverage the power of exponential technologies to solve humanity’s grand challenges. Rotterdam’s ambitions tie in with Singularity’s mission: ‘to assemble, educate and inspire a new generation of leaders who strive to understand and utilize exponentially advancing technologies to address humanity’s grand challenges’.
It is clear that technology will benefit us. But technology in itself will not be enough. Look at its significance for, and effect on, the social and human dimension of things. What does technology do to society, to social connections? What can we do to ensure that they optimally enhance each other? What will innovation mean when it comes to law, government, entrepreneurship, new business models and citizenship? And that’s where you play an important role. Erasmus already said: “There are some people who live in a dream world, and then there are some who face reality, and there are those who turn one into the other”. I suppose you feel at home in the latest category. It is all about connecting and connections.
Dear students. You have now completed your studies. Once back home you can use and pass on the expertise you have acquired. But I hope that you will be a true ambassador for Rotterdam. Your title of Master of Business Administration opens up many possibilities for you. Certainly since it is awarded by Rotterdam School of Management.
Having ambassadors all over the world is of great value to our city. That means that your MBA title will also open up possibilities for our city! It’s possible that you will soon be a ‘decision making unit’ back home or in another country. Should the organisation you will be working for be thinking of setting up a foothold in Europe, we hope that you will remember Rotterdam as a Gateway to Europe. Rotterdam maintains many international relations with emerging markets and maintains an international network for its own growth and prosperity. These economic reasons of doing business are evident to you as graduates of RSM.
This group of talents is a precious network: a typical Rotterdam network. If all the MBA and EMBA graduates in the whole world were to be linked with different coloured threads then the World would look like a ball of wool. And you would be part of that. All of you here today belong to this Rotterdam network. Through your study and your memories of our city you have become eternally linked to Rotterdam. I hope that you have perceived the pride that permeates this city and that you in turn will radiate this pride on others.
We would be very happy to keep in touch with you via modern networking possibilities (like Linked In, alumni networks etc) or keeping you updated by Rotterdam newsletters whatsoever. It is not unthinkable that you will be invited for a ‘Local Chapter’ when a Rotterdam mission guided by the mayor or a vice mayor like me will visit your country. As Desiderius Erasmus said himself: “Concealed talent bring no reputation”.
However, let’s not wait for the future. Already today, I would like to nominate you all as a Rotterdam Ambassador. You will all receive a certificate for that. I would have loved to give them to all of you personally but that’s a massive logistical challenge. But there is one special student I would like to give the first certificate symbolic to: Anna Pouls, a huge talent with a Dutch and American nationality. She was Vice President Alumni for the Student Association during her MBA. She is a Multilingual strategic relationship management professional with strong experience in developing buy-in between internal and external stakeholders and across corporate, government, trade association and NGO boundaries. She has become known as the person who will put her hand up to talk about women. She is fluent in English, Spanish, Dutch and French and will be a great ambassador ! Rotterdam and I wish you all a very good future, we keep in touch!