Celebrating a transformative journey - class of 2023, you are dismissed!


Thursday, 14 September 2023 was a day full of positive energy, excitement and cheer. It was the long-awaited day for the MSM graduates from the Master in Management and MBA programmes, to receive their well-deserved degrees.

Graduates from the residential programmes came together with their peers from the MSM partners Nanjing University, MSM Kuwait, BISM Romania and Corvinus University Hungary.

In total 140 graduates gathered at the MECC in Maastricht to celebrate this milestone with each other, family and friends, and with the MSM faculty and staff.

At 2.00 pm sharp, Master of Ceremony Oliver Olson opened the ceremony to start a joyful programme with heart-warming speeches, music and lots of applause.

Time for new leadership

Director of MSM, Meinhard Gans highlighted the transitions that have taken place in the past years that have an impact on society in general and on our personal lives. Transformations that also translate into the way how businesses and organisations can function effectively: “Life in the era of Artificial Intelligence, big data, social media, life in a largely virtual environment and life controlled by the systems around us.”  

He stressed the need for new leadership in this evolving landscape, where there are no predefined solutions. “In that respect there is one certainty for you: change surrounds you and will continue to do so, so don’t anticipate that your learning journey ends here and now, this is just the start of a new stage.”

Life takes courage

In an inspiring keynote, MSM Online MBA alumna Florisa De Leo Magambi shared her journey from leaving a corporate job in Europe to founding the social enterprise Kibébé in Malawi. She also discussed her involvement in Inua Advocacy, an organisation founded by her husband focusing on fair treatment for refugees in Malawi. Being a social entrepreneur, Florisa realised that she is not the typical example of business success: “But maybe the typical examples of business success are not so relevant for the world as it is today,” she stated.

Florisa stressed the importance of success in driving positive change and explained how her daughter's health challenges led to a shift in her perspective. She explained how she founded and developed her award winning social enterprise, Kibébé, now employing Malawian graduates, giving work to 29 refugee artisans, exporting internationally and changing perceptions about refugee abilities. Despite challenges in Malawi's business environment, Florisa emphasised her commitment to finding solutions to keep Kibébé running: “We are committed to not letting down a people who have already lost so much. We just do not have the privilege of giving up.”

She urged the need for building two-way bridges between communities: “The world needs people to build bridges between communities. These must be two-way bridges, where both sides are equally valued, heard and interdependent.” Lastly, she highlighted the courage needed to face life's challenges: “The courage to believe that our pain will not last forever. The courage to dream beyond what is currently within our reach. The courage to try and make it, as if we had nothing to lose.”

A well-deserved moment of fame

And then the moment arrived to hand out the degrees. One by one, the graduates climbed the stage for their moment of fame and every single graduate received a warm applause to underline their great achievement.

After all degrees were handed out, the excitement grew as it was time for the best student awards for the residential Master in Management and MBA programmes. For the Master in Management, this year was an exceptional occasion as the award was shared by two best students, Rishyasringan Dhamodharan and Simon Watermann. Evalinde Eelens, Online MBA graduate, had the honour to receive the 2023 MBA Best Student Award.

To enjoy a moment of rest in all the excitement the MSM Quartet delivered a delightful musical intermezzo.

A transformative journey

Now it was time for the graduates to speak, an important moment for the graduate representatives to reflect on their study time, to honour their classmates and to thank their loved ones.

Master in Management representative Pauline Dizomba figuratively illustrated the transformation of the MM students during the past year: “We left our comfort zones, our friends and families to come and take a chance at unleashing our full potential. Some had never lived alone, some had never known to cook, but one year down the line, I believe we have been cooked, from rare, some medium rare to well done.”

Apart from highlighting the transformation they went through as a group, Full-time MBA representative Johanna Galindo Ruiz provided some encouraging pieces of advice to her fellow graduates, as they embark on the next chapter of their journey: “Let’s make the difference, impact and transform the atmosphere wherever we go. Never underestimate our words. Our words have power, let’s use them wisely. Let’s be the leader we would love to follow.”

Executive MBA graduate Fauziya Sayyed highlighted how significant this moment was to her, as she was the first in her family to earn a Master’s degree, growing up in a place where girls were often confined to traditional gender roles. To her fellow graduates she emphasized that regardless where they come from, their dreams, ambitions and voices matter, and she closed with an important message: “As we step out, armed with our degrees and fueled by dreams, let's promise to chase success and significance. To not just do business but to be human, to remember that behind every ledger and spreadsheet lies a story, a dream, and a heartbeat.”

Online MBA representative Evalinde Eelens described her own transformative journey from being a lone runner into a team player, however with one essential caveat: “The team must be forged with diversity and inclusion in mind, embracing critical mass as a catalyst for innovation.” Evalinde concluded with a challenge to her fellow graduates: “Embrace the importance of diversity in all its forms, including gender diversity. Embrace this responsibility with open hearts and eager minds. Let us move forward, equipped with the robust wings of our experiences and the diverse perspectives we've gained, ready to make an indelible mark on the world.”

The importance of reflection

After congratulating the graduates, Prof. dr. Mariëlle Heijltjes, Dean of the UM School of Business and Economics, emphasised the importance of reflection, as a key ingredient to keep learning. She provided the fresh graduates with food for thought to make their own narrative regarding their personal learning experience more explicit.

To help the graduates do so, she posed intriguing questions like, do you truly now understand what drives you, do you recognise and understand your behavior when you are challenged to come out of your comfort zone, can you adopt an inner attitude of courage.

Prof.dr. Heijltjes concluded her speech with a wish for all graduates: “My wish for you is that as a graduate you will not only present your diploma, but that you will be able to make all of your learnings during this journey explicit; that you will be able to share the narrative on how you shaped your perseverance and resilience that you showed during your studies; that you gained insight into what enabled you to engage with passion and that you embrace continuous learning with a courageous inner attitude, even if this feels uncomfortable.”

Class of 2023, you are dismissed!

Closing the ceremony, Dr. Stuart Dixon, MSM Director of Academics invited all graduates to gather on stage for the exciting final moment – the throwing of the caps. As Dr. Dixon spoke the famous words: “Class of 2023, you are dismissed,” 140 caps flew in the air under a lot of cheering.

Now everyone was ready for the evening party!

To see the pictures of Graduation Day, click here
To watch a short video compilation of the day, click here

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