Goodbye, hello – let’s do this again! PART 2 – The Residency

 The Netherlands –  First destination of the Europe Residency

The Nhow Rotterdam hotel was our home base for the duration of our time in the Netherlands. After checking in and settling in my room with a stunning view of the Maas river, it was time to prepare for the opening reception and dinner on board of the SPIDO boat. We reunited with our global teams over cocktails and took a lot of photos for posterity. But alas, the time soon came for us to say goodbye to our ‘old’ teams, and to embrace our new teams. It was an emotional experience.


On Monday March 13, the residency officially began. At 7:45 am we piled into buses and headed to Rotterdam School of Management for presentations by faculty members, including Dr. Koen Berden, Economist, and Director at World Trade Institute.

We were also very fortunate to hear Dr. Jan Peter Balkenende, former Prime Minister of the Netherlands,  expound on global topics during one of our sessions.

This residency provided deeper insights into topics such as:

  • the fate of the European Union (EU) after Brexit
  • the role of family-owned businesses in The Netherlands
  • and social issues such as – the refugee crisis, gender inequality, climate change and aging population, to name a few.

In each session, professors and guest speakers alike shared their unique perspectives and experiences, purposefully giving us the option to either identify with a stated opinion, or recognize the fundamental differences between their stated position and our personal views.

The classroom sessions were complemented by visits to companies like ISM eCompany, Unilever and RDM Makerspace, which also helped to create greater awareness of the challenges and successes of doing business in Europe.

Poland – Europe Residency

The beauty of Poland is second only to its rich history.

After our final session in the Netherlands on Mar 15, we boarded a chartered plane to Poland, where we stayed at the elegant Sofitel Hotel in Warsaw. Like our time in Rotterdam, we had amazing presentations by key industry experts from various business sectors within Poland. One such expert was Professor Dariusz Filar, one of Poland’s top economist.

The amazing thing about these presentations also, was that graphic artist Jadzka Rysuje was simultaneously creating visually representation of what was being said by each speaker. Such a cool idea!

During the residency in Poland the recurring theme was the phoenix-like rise of the country out of obliteration and despair. This rebirth could be partly attributed to its European Union membership.

Even though there were many key takeaways from this residency, the most impactful moment for me was during a casual conversation with Saskia Treurniet, Executive Director of the OneMBA Program, and another participant. It was a ‘lightbulb’ moment for me.

Goodbye, hello – let’s do this again! PART 2 – The Residency

Abina Gilbert

Canadian. "Live your life as if you KNOW it's going to have a happy ending. Carry on as if it were a GIVEN that all will turn out ridiculously well."

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