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Six Years On and Still Competing

The MBA friends all get together

By  Ania Zymelka

Tue Sep 1 2009

Making useful contacts is undoubtedly one of the key reasons for doing an MBA, but there’s more to being at b-school than building a professional network. You’re also there to make friends that stay with you long after you’re done with school.

We caught up with Ole Jacob Olsnes, who still vacations with his business school friends, six years after graduating from the Rotterdam school of Management.

The 34-year-old, who works in equity sales at Pareto Securities in Norway, just returned from his annual weekend away with former RSM classmates. The friends of eight years make sure they see each other at least a couple of times a year, picking a new holiday destination each time. This year it was hiking and sailing on the south-western coast of Norway.

Olsnes’s MBA batch of 150 included only two Dutch students, so it’s no surprise that the friends form quite an international circle, with a Brit, an Iraqi Canadian, and two Norwegians in the mix. 

“There are normally ten of us, but naturally not all of us can make it each time,” says Olsnes, who was responsible for organizing this year’s trip. Still, all of them have managed to stay in touch over the years, despite busy careers and moving countries.

This year’s participants included Henrik Frisell, manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Markus Morlok, vice president at Dresdner Kleinwort bank in London, Julian Keens, an account director at Succinct Communications in the UK, and Fritz Diepen, vice president of research and development at SciCan Limited, Switzerland.

One thing that has stayed with them since leaving RSM is a bit of competitiveness: “Regardless of where we go, we always make sure to include a competitive element in our trip.” This year they tested each other on their knowledge of the “old days” at RSM, and went on sailing and hiking races. Last year, it was all about biking in Switzerland.

“We compete for fun – and to balance out the partying in the evenings,” says Olsnes. “Whoever wins gets to organize the next trip.” This time the winner was Mohammad Hussain who will probably ask his friends to visit him in Switzerland next year where he heads “process excellence” at Bank Julius Baer.

There’s one more rule at the reunions: wives and girlfriends are not welcome. As Olsnes, a father of two, who met his wife whilst studying at RSM, explains: “It wouldn’t be the same if they were around.”