MSM Graduation 2022 – resilience, perseverance and never giving up


Thursday, 15 September 2022, was the long expected day for MSM’s Master in Management, MBA and DBA students: Graduation Day! A special day in recognition of hard work, sacrifices, resilience and perseverance with the final award of receiving the degree in front of family, friends, MSM faculty and staff.

At exactly 2.00 pm, Master of Ceremony Oliver Olson opened the Ceremony by welcoming the graduates into the Conference Hall, followed by the Academic Procession. MSM CEO/Dean Meinhard Gans was the first speaker to address the graduates. He paid tribute to the achievements of the graduates, recognizing all the efforts and sacrifices they had to make. He emphasized that change will surround the graduates and will continue to do so in the future: “So don’t anticipate that your learning journey ends here and now, it is just the start of a new stage. Part of the basic traits of leadership remain, irrespective of the setting in which you operate, including amongst others value-driven, inclusive leadership, an entrepreneurial drive and a global perspective. Many of these competencies, operating under drastically changing conditions, are not yet fully reflected in text books or case studies, but I hope that our programmes have provided you with the core assets, the skills, the mind-set and drive, to assist you in further unlocking your leadership potential.”

As the ceremony also marked the celebration of MSM’s 70th anniversary and the start of a new chapter for MSM as part of the Maastricht University School of Business and Economics, Meinhard Gans closed his speech by introducing the 70 year MSM video. Reflecting MSM’s rich history, the video shows MSM’s key achievements and activities over the past 70 years.

Keynote and alumni addresses

In her keynote address, Professor Damayanti Buchori, Professor at the Department of Plant Protection Faculty of Agriculture and Chair of the Center for Transdisciplinary and Sustainability Science (CTSS), Bogor Agricultural University, shared her personal reflections on sustainability. She identified three objectives for graduation: make a living, lead a meaningful life and ennoble life. In striking images, she showed the impact of humans on the earth’s ecosystems and biodiversity. She referred to the fact that sustainability is about leadership: “We need to brave the uncertainties of the future, have the courage to open a new path towards wisdom and understand the oneness in life.” She closed with an important message for the graduates for their future journey: “The only sure thing in life is change. Do not fear it, embrace it with all the passion and uncertainty it may bring you. And when things go wrong as they sometimes will, don’t quit!”

MSM MBA alumna Yeva Hyusyan shared her personal journey from being a ‘shy girl from Armenia’ to growing into her current role as co-founder and CEO of SoloLearn, the world’s largest online community learning platform where 20 million coders learn, create, and share programming content with peers. For Yeva there are two major prerequisites to succeed and reach what you aim for: “First of all, you should really, really want it and have people around you who believe in you. Secondly, there is always a way out, there is always a solution to any problem you encounter. This mind-set will help you persevere and not give up.” She emphasized that fulfilling your dream is about never giving up and the importance of finding the one thing that makes your eyes shine, which is her final advice to the graduates: “There is a fire in everyone, find that fire!”

MBA alumna Hoda Mansour shared her key learnings from her journey to become a leader in the tech industry as a woman. Where she felt that people were waiting for her to fail, it made her stronger to reach her goals. Currently, Hoda is SAP Europe, Middle East, and Africa's Head of Business Process Intelligence (BPI), a region that covers 75 countries. Given her transformational impact, Forbes acknowledged her leadership by recognizing her as one of Forbes Top5 Women in Technology in the Middle East in March 2022, in addition to Forbes Top 50 Power Businesswomen for 2022 and 2021. Despite her success, her career was not an easy ride and she shared some key learnings with the graduates: “Success does not come easy. You have to be prepared to fail and turn these failures into learnings. You need to have this mental clarity, the resilience, the positive and inclusive mind-set, that will differentiate you from others. You need to have a strong network. And last but not least, always appreciate what you have achieved and the ones that helped you achieving this. No matter how successful you will be, always stay humble and grounded.”

Degrees and awards

The highlight of the ceremony was the awarding of the degrees and Best Student awards. The ‘please rise’ request to the graduates by Master of Ceremony Oliver Olson marked the start of this important moment. Close to 70 graduates received their well-deserved degree on stage with a loud applause from the audience.

The next moment of excitement was the announcement of the Best Student awards. The winner of the Best Student award for the Master in Management programme was Irina Pozhidaeva, in recognition of her excellent academic performance and her team player and leader role she fulfilled during the year.

Eleonora Stoyanova received the Best Student Award for the MBA programme. Eleonora completed her Executive MBA programme with an impressive GAP of 8.4 and she passed her final assessment with distinction. The evaluators were impressed, not only by her research and recommendations, but also by her excellent academic writing and exemplary presentation.

Graduate speeches

Now it was time to give the floor to the graduate representatives. Master in Management graduate Aisha Kartay dedicated her speech to being brave: “At the end of the day, it will be the brave decisions that will make us feel the moments, feel the life, and will allow us to figure ourselves. And this year is exactly the consequence of one of those brave decisions. I am proud of all of us for being brave enough to embark on this journey, to dare to change our lives, our fates and, basically, ourselves,” she referred to the past year of studying the Master in Management.

Full-time MBA representative Vanessa Hebert hailed the diversity in the classroom and how this enriched the learning experience: “I believe we were all positively impacted from this experience and can apply these learnings to the next chapter of our lives. The greater the diversity, the greater the perfection. When we listen to and understand one another, we can celebrate what is both common and different.” But Vanessa also referred to bravery: “Even though we come from all across the world, we all have one thing in common; we chose to take a risk. Think of all that you have achieved by taking the risk to be here, and don’t you let yourself forget what you’ve put in to be able to be here today!”

Executive MBA representative Rodney Rosalia mentioned the unity – the feeling of togetherness – amidst all challenges during the programme, as the foundation of the success. Rodney also recognized the diversity in the Executive MBA cohort: “That unity is even more noteworthy to point out if you screen the diversity present in the EMBA cohort, representing 20+ countries and cultures, but also the wide range of core expertise, educational background, and industry in which we work.” Rodney shared his personal learning curve from the Executive MBA – how he transformed from a person with zero background in finance and accounting to a key go-to person for managerial accounting and financing in his work environment.

Jodi Stabe represented the Online MBA cohort, while she actually just met her classmates in person for the first time after two and a half year study. She emphasized that she and her cohort choose to follow an MBA because they wanted to, not because they needed to. The choice for the Online MBA proved to be a wise choice in the 2020-2022 timeframe. “We survived while working from home, while home schooling and learning online. We persisted through illness and the non-stop schedule. We didn’t let anything stop us from reaching what we wanted. I want to encourage everyone to follow their dreams and to never give up. Do not let anything stand in your way. There are no excuses in life, just opportunities.”

In his speech, DBA graduate Dr. Ehsan Fakkar also addressed the common theme of never giving up: “As every researcher knows, sometimes things don't go according to our plan or results aren't what we expect. We may have been challenged in our studies or encountered setbacks in job applications. But take these and look at them in a positive light. Learn from these experiences and go back to the original question with this new knowledge and keep experimenting.” He also emphasized the importance of following your heart and intuition: “They already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Time to celebrate

MSM’s Director of Academics, Dr. Stuart Dixon had the honour to close the ceremony with the famous words: “Class of 2022, you are dismissed!”

After the ceremony, the graduates, their families and friends, and MSM faculty and staff were ready for the dinner party at La Caverne. It was the perfect location to really celebrate the achievements while enjoying nice food and good music.

Graduation Day in images

To see a photo impression of the MSM Graduation Day 2022, click here.