A resilient Blue MBA wins industry and academic acclaim at the graduation of its Class of 2021*
In its 20th year, the Blue MBA has emerged from the challenges of turbulent global conditions with a dignified graduation ceremony for its most recent Class.
The world-renowned management leadership programme, which is under the aegis of Copenhagen Business School, the largest institution of its kind in northern Europe, had to contend with the impact of the pandemic in terms of international aviation shutdowns and the need to conduct a portion of its coursework online.
At the ceremony on August 7, most graduates – some were unable to be present because of continuing travel curbs – heard in person much praise for their hard work, the way they took on unanticipated burdens, and for the academic team that ensured they were provided with the best possible resources.
Recognised by the global shipping industry as an integral part of their community, the Executive MBA in Shipping and Logistics, as the Blue MBA is formally known, draws together candidates of senior standing from many professional backgrounds and nationalities.
Since 2001, the MBA, which has accreditations from top educational bodies, has graduated more than 300 students from around 50 countries.
Irene Rosberg, programme director, told the graduates: “The past two years has brought with it a lot of hardship, and disruption that you must be feeling in your lives – at some points very intensely. There is no denying the fact that we have all been struggling with a crisis of historic proportions. Our hopes and dreams have been modified and some put on hold.
“We have been facing unprecedented challenges, but we also have had sparkling days of new adventures and new discoveries.”
Welcoming guests to the event, Poul Hedegaard, director at CBS for the full-time, Blue and other Executive MBA programmes, said that while the pandemic was for many people a time of darkness and despair, it was also a time of hope – of adapting to new circumstances and helping and supporting each other, of a commitment to make the Blue MBA programme, with its great reputation, work.
Professor Bent Petersen, associate dean and academic director of the programme highlighted the work of the shipping industry including its seafarers in relation to sustainability despite the difficulties of businesses in agreeing on this huge topic to a joint agenda. Of such key questions, he told the graduates: “You are in a very good position, with an education which prepares you for these challenges.”
Andreas Nordseth, director general of the Danish Maritime Authority, said that the whole world is talking about the new normality of disruptions, and the Blue MBA was all about facing up to such changes. In dealing with two of the biggest questions, the climate change agenda and digitisation the global shipping industry and seafarers had an important role. In tackling these and other critical matters “no effort is too small; no effort is too big.”
Chief examiner Herbert Kotzab, of Bremen University spoke of the “phenomenal journey” of those working to gain the MBA, a journey “challenging and at times intimidating.” Over the space of 24 months participants became smarter and more confident. “Your MBA toolbox is how you will equip yourselves with what is important in maritime.”
On behalf of the graduating class Charlotte Røjgaard, global head of marine fuel services at BV, and Jesper Schrøder, chief executive of the Port of Elsinor, said that involvement in the Blue MBA had underlined the importance of human interaction. It had reaffirmed value of the “strong feeling knowing that there is someone out there to help you if you need it.” Graduates were taking on the responsibility of being the leaders of tomorrow.
Thomas Damsgaard of the Class of 2017, and Blue MBA ambassador for North America, paid tribute to the unstinting work of Ms Rosberg. Mr Damsgaard, chief executive and partner in Vimar Maritime Consulting, said of the programme director’s guidance of and commitment to the MBA: “Without you it would not have been possible.”
Ms Rosberg said: “The recognition of this programme is a matter of pride for all of us. I think all the great value of this programme lies in its uniqueness. In the words of Harvard Business School’s Michael Porter, known as the Guru of Strategy, “only by competing to be unique and having the ability to create unique value can an organisation achieve sustained, superior performance. And I am confident that we have achieved this with our Blue MBA.
“We have achieved this through the relevance of our programme to the industry, through our diverse student body, through the members of our international faculty, through our world-class coaches and advisors and through the activities of our alumni.”
She declared: “Today I am filled with pride to celebrate the achievements of the Blue MBA Class of 2021, both those of you who are here in person, and those who, unfortunately could not be here in person due to restrictions. You overcame extraordinary challenges, endured the impact of Covid, the hardship of lockdown, lockdown from social events and boundless networking opportunities, lockdown from enjoying the company of classmates and colleagues for face-to-face sessions… but you have proven that no obstacle is large enough to stand between you and your goal.
“Like any professional, you decided to adapt, push through the lack of motivation and self-doubt and to come out on top, used the obstacles to form new structures, find new realities, and make a new world after all we have been through.”
The platform party and graduates had proceeded into the hall to the stirring music of the Gordon Pipes and Drums of Copenhagen. The presence of the dozen-strong band has in recent years become a hallowed tradition of Blue MBA graduation day and marked the triumph of a return to ‘normality’ after the trials of 2020-21.
The Class of 2023 begins work in September 2021. Further information is available from programme director Irene Rosberg at firstname.lastname@example.org (and follow on twitter @RosbergIrene).
*This article was first appeared in The Maritime Executive on 23rd August (https://maritime-executive.com/corporate/blue-mba-celebrates-achievements-of-graduating-class-in-20th-year).