In the summer of last year (2009) I made a decision that has had a huge effect on my life. Although I had a great job at Ernst & Young and was enjoying a very comfortable lifestyle, I knew I was capable of much more. Having worked for large organizations in several different countries, I had become aware of the significant impact corporations can have on societies and the environment, as well as the complexities involved in dealing with these effects. I decided to quit my comfortable job in order to go back to school and specialize in the relatively new, rapidly growing field of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
Although I researched CSR-related Master degree programs in many different countries, my choice quickly fell on the Global Business and Stakeholder Management program at the Erasmus University’s Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), one of Europe’s leading business schools. Some years before I had completed my Bachelor in Business Administration at the RSM and I had been very satisfied with the quality of education and the job opportunities my RSM degree afforded me. Ranked 7th in the Financial Times European Business School Ranking 2009, the Rotterdam School of Management has now also recently been ranked 5th worldwide by the Eduniversal global top 1000 business school rankings.
The RSM’s Global Business and Stakeholder Management (GBSM) Master program approaches CSR from a predominately international perspective, reflecting the global playing field in which multinational corporations operate. The program additionally provides a strong focus on communications, an element that is vital both for the effective implementation of CSR and for converting CSR strategy into concrete reputational gain. As can be inferred from the title, the program’s core courses are classified according to two categories: the first being Global Business and the second Stakeholder Management. Global Business includes Leadership, which focuses on managing uncertainty and risk in a rapidly changing globalized world, and International Firm Strategies, which teaches how multinational firms can implement CSR to tackle complex social and environmental issues. Stakeholder Management includes Corporate Communication, which examines how corporations communicate their internal (CSR) policies and strategies to external parties and thereby manage their reputation, and Corporate Governance, which investigates the political, social and legal environment in which corporations operate and how corporations can shape their organizational structures and policies to the benefit of society.
The GBSM Master program additionally offers a number of very interesting elective courses. I opted for an elective course in Ethics, which employs course material provided by Harvard University, and an elective in Employee Alignment, which details methods for aligning the personal motivations and goals of employees with a multinational organization’s overall strategy.
I greatly enjoyed all the GBSM courses. It was very inspiring to learn how corporations are taking responsibility for their wider impact and are developing sophisticated programs, often in collaboration with partner organizations, in order to reduce their environmental impact and improve people’s lives. Moreover, the courses taught me how this can be done in a profitable manner. I also learned that the field is still developing rapidly; there is still a great deal more to be gained as CSR becomes a universally accepted, integral part of business.
Going back to school has been an incredibly rewarding experience which I thoroughly recommend. By far the best part of the Master program was getting to know and working with my fellow GBSM students. The courses involve a lot of group work, and I had the privilege of working on projects with some incredibly bright, talented minds from various cultural backgrounds. It was also great to see so much passion about Corporate Social Responsibility and the positive impact corporations can have. Together we have formed a network of aspiring CSR professionals which will hopefully prove useful as a way of sharing knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm for years to come.