Over 180 graduates from around the world, all dressed in traditional graduation wear, gathered on the Dutch coast this weekend to receive their hard-earned degrees from Business School Netherlands (BSN). It ended up being a global celebration filled with inspirational speeches and unforgettable Kodak moments, with a spectacular Diner Dansant in one of Europe’s most historical hotels as the cherry on top.
Like all previous years, the 2017 edition of Graduation Day was an unprecedented success. Of 416 MBA and DBA students who graduated this year, 188 travelled to Scheveningen, The Netherlands, to receive their degrees.
An international affair
Hosted by the Kurhaus, one of the most historical and prestigious hotels in The Netherlands and Europe, BSN’s Graduation Day was an international affair and drew representatives from the Czech Republic, China, the United Kingdom, Suriname, Curaçao, South Africa, Namibia, Pakistan, Aruba, Georgia, Ghana, Nigeria and the Netherlands.
Besides students, their friends and family, the event was attended by various international BSN staff members too, including Lere Baale (BSN Nigeria), Juanita Bouwer (BSN International), Bing Han (BSN Asia), and Glenn Rijssel (BSN Suriname) as well as Member of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Ayodele Aderinwale, and Dr Olumide Ajayi, who serve as the chairman and director of BSN’s school in Nigeria.
Tension in the air
The tension in the Kurhaus was tangible, but subsided when Dean Marcel van der Ham opened the ceremony, which was followed by various speeches. Action Learning expert Richard Hale was one of the speakers. “Today, graduates you are making history as this marks a wonderful achievement and stage in your learning and research journey,” he said.
“You are all recognised as Action learners, today. You have learned about how to improve organisations, have investigated real ‘here and now’ problems and sought to tackle them by learning ‘with and from others’ in Action learning groups or ‘sets’. You have developed an invaluable skill which you will carry with you throughout the rest of your life and career: the ability to tackle problems – whatever they might be – as Action learners.”
Use your skills to make a difference
Hale urged the graduates to not only focus on solving problems at work. “I encourage you to find an opportunity to work the big issues and not just to do a job, but do something you passionately believe in and can contribute to,” he said. “To be able to pursue your passion is a privilege – if you can communicate your passion your impact, influence and ultimately your pleasure will be amplified.”
After the speeches, all graduates – accompanied by cheers from friends, family and BSN staff – were called forward to receive the degrees one by one. Jeroen Bholai, from The Netherlands, was one of them. Graduation Day has been the crown on his study career, he said. “The event meant a lot to me, personally,” he explained, in terms of his studies, the key highlight was his study trip to China earlier this year. “I wouldn’t have missed that for the world.”
Hluphekile Emily Makhaza from South Africa shares his views, adding that she is grateful that she once upon a time chose BSN as her MBA provider. “I opted for BSN because I wanted more than just a degree. I was looking for a school that could really help me improve my problem-solving skills, among other things.”
Rani Sitaram, also from South Africa, agrees. She looks back into that period with a smile. “These years definitely met my expectations, and sometimes surpassed them. The networking possibilities BSN gave me, were invaluable, and the same counts for the support I received from my teachers, who are all experts in their respective fields.”
Highest grades ever
Strategic and marketing management professor Paul Turken noted that the quality of BSN’s Class of 2017 impressed him. Two of them stood out: Pieter van Nieuwaal and Maureen Wijsman-de Hond. Both Cum Laude graduates respectively received an 8.5 and a 9 for their dissertations, the highest grades he has ever given in the past 30 years.
“I have never given grades higher than 8.3,” he says, adding that he has learned a lot from both dissertations. “The outcomes of both studies were extraordinary too, besides the studies themselves. This enabled me to learn a lot from Van Nieuwaal’s and Wijsman-de Hond’s expertises.”
Wijsman-de Hond received an extra recognition for her outstanding performance: besides graduating Cum Laude, she scored an 88/100 average for all her assignments. This granted her the title ‘top student of the Class of 2017’. “We are very proud of Maureen and we wish her a good future ahead,” Van Der Ham. “Seeing how well she did, this won’t be a problem.”
Golden BSN students
Besides Wijsman-de Hond, four other BSN students received extra recognitions. Whilst Anja van Weerlee, Dirk Goijert, and Jos Martens were awarded their Q Gold certificates, Rutger IJntema took home his Q Plus certificate.
After the official ceremony drew to a close, it was time for a well-deserved drink and a delicious bitterbal, with a spectacular diner dansant as the day’s cherry on top. “Graduation Day was the pinnacle of the experience BSN was for me,” says Luba Protsiva. “Celebrating my graduation with family, friends and loved ones really amplified that joy.”