The New Face at RSM

Rotterdam School of Management's Connie Tai explains the holistic approach to vetting applicants and the latest feedback on hiring

Connie Tai is director of marketing and communications at the Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) at Erasmus University in The Netherlands (No. 7 among non-U.S. B-schools in BusinessWeek's 2002 rankings). Tai, who hails from Hong Kong, received her MBA at Rotterdam, and is now studying towards a master's degree in corporate communications and reputation management. She has worked at RSM for about 15 years, and was interviewed recently by Business Week Online reporter Mica Schneider. Here's an edited transcript of their discussion:

Q: The school's former dean, Kai Peters, recently left RSM to lead U.K. B-school, Ashridge Management College. Mike Page is the new dean for RSM. What's the difference? A: Mike worked closely with Kai, so the vision for the school is very similar. RSM is international. We see ourselves as a network organization, creating an intellectually stimulating environment. Mike has emphasized that business education is about developing critical thinking and decision-making capacities, and about implementing decisions.

Q: Did application volume change this past year?


We saw a decrease of about 20%.

Q: How large will the class be in October, 2004, when new MBAs arrive?


We're looking at an intake of 140 to 150 MBAs. Last year, we enrolled 158. This year, the financial cost for the MBA seems to be a major issue for the candidates.

Q: RSM has just forged a loan scheme with ING Bank, allowing new MBAs, regardless of nationality, to borrow money without needing a co-signer. Will some MBAs still come up short?


There will be an assessment process by the bank to determine whether or not someone is eligible. If they're eligible, they can borrow up to 100% of tuition.

[Editor's note, Tuition is about $41,000 for the 15-month, full-time MBA program.]

Q: Are you still accepting applicants for the class starting in October?


Only for people who are interested in the loan.

Q: What have been the biggest changes at RSM in the past couple of years?


Candidates are much more knowledgeable. They know what an MBA is about, the differences among schools, and a lot more about RSM. We try to nurture our ties to these candidates, and make them feel part of the community before they start school. Last year, we started a masters class, a snapshot of what they'll get in a classroom, as part of our information sessions around the world. We also hold organized corporate events for alumni around the world, and invite prospective MBAs to those events.

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