Meet The Alumni: Alex Roepers
“Luckily, I am in a position to offer motivated and talented students the possibility to invest in themselves. This brings me great joy, because the results are often quick and positive.” Alex Roepers, alumnus of the 1977 BBA at Nyenrode Business University, left early 1981 for America to jump start his career and to obtain an MBA degree at Harvard Business School (HBS). Since 1988, he has been and still is a successful global hedge fund manager with his office and his team located in New York. The connection Roepers always felt with Nyenrode has never faded. To make studying at Nyenrode also possible for people with insufficient fund, he has realized four scholarships.
When Roepers tells us about his time at Nyenrode, he gets a big smile on his face. “Even as a young man I was familiar with Nyenrode. My brother went to college there, and entrepreneurship runs in our family. My father has built a printing company and stimulated me to start my own business as well. Besides that, the US have always had an enormous attraction to me. Nyenrode, an international business school where young people are prepared for the corporate world, was therefore a perfect match and a good foundation for a path towards the international world of business. It also offered me the opportunity to go to the US."
Once started at Nyenrode, Roepers felt right at home. He wanted to get as much out of his time at Nyenrode as possible. So he joined the student society and multiple committees, varying from rugby, hockey, rowing, and the board of the sports club to becoming a member of the Nyenrode Council (Nyenrode Raad). “My participation in organizations and committees in combination with campus-life and the education program, made me learn an awful lot at Nyenrode: organizing events, taking initiative, public speaking, working together in teams and holding management positions. I had a great time, the formula just works,” according to Roepers.
Already during his college time at Nyenrode, Roepers felt the urge to leave for the US: “I gotta get out of here! In socialist Netherlands of the ‘70s there was no room for my entrepreneurial ambitions and the United States had an enormous attraction”. Roepers always wanted to pursue an MBA and registered at multiple universities in the US. In June of 1980, he was admitted at Harvard Business School. “I almost fell off my chair, because my grades weren’t all that great. But HBS looks at more than just grades. Extracurricular activities and work experience also play a huge role in the admission process. And that is when his Nyenrode experience came in handy.
After his admission at HBS, Roepers started working at an industrial company in upstate New York, where he had previously completed an internship. “This company grew with a revenue increase from $50 million in 1979 to $200 million in 1982. They needed help with their exponential growth. With four languages, I was unique in upstate New York. And within six months I was coordinator for an important international project. I represented the company to clients and flew to a different place every week. Who would have thought? And I was only 21 at the time!”
After Harvard, Roepers worked in New York in corporate development for Thyssen-Bornemisza Group (TBG), a private conglomerate with offices in Monaco, Amsterdam and New York. For four years, he was involved in the purchase and sale of companies. TBG was also an active investor in hedge funds and that is how Roepers became familiar with this particular branch of the investment world. “The idea started growing how I would be able to set up my own company with my self-developed investment strategy,” explains Roepers.
“I had to work really hard to build my company. I had no connections and no money from where I came from”. With six years of relevant work experience, support from the head of TBG and a solid track record of investment proposals at TBG, Roepers’ company, Atlantic Investment Management, got off the ground. “The investment formula was very clear and is still the same up until this very day”.
It didn't all come naturally. Roepers also faced significant business setbacks during his 30-year entrepreneurship at Atlantic. But to Roepers, every setback is a challenge and giving up is never an option for him: “Luck is with the persistent”. According to Roepers, Atlantic's success was due to a combination of a clear investment strategy and perseverance. “Anyone in the investment world must have a clear investment strategy that can be executed well. But the most important thing is to believe in your own strategy and to enjoy your work.”
Roepers has always felt strongly connected to Nyenrode, which is one of the reasons why he has realized four scholarships at Nyenrode. “I was very fortunate that it all went so well as it did. Of course, perseverance and knowledge are important for success, but also a portion of luck. And that kind of luck, in this case through a scholarship, is what I want to pass on to talented young people who can use it. I, myself, also benefited greatly from the generosity of others.”
Rany Skaff, student of the full-time 2016 Master of Science in Management, is one of the lucky students to receive a scholarship from Roepers. Skaff says that he would not have made it to Nyenrode without that scholarship. Like Roepers, he has made the most of his time at Nyenrode. “When I arrived at Nyenrode, I immediately felt that I had to join the Nyenrode network, study was put on hold for a while. I wanted to focus myself on committees, disputes and the gigantic network as much as possible. So that, after graduation, I would always be possible to call someone to discuss certain topics or to just have a nice chat. In the beginning I doubted though, whether I could pull this off with my scholarship. In the end, it was exactly those people at Nyenrode who reassured me. Especially the combination of lectures and extracurricular experiences are what determine Nyenrode's strength and value.” Skaff says that, in particular he still applies Nyenrode's mentality on a daily basis: 'Don't whine, just do it!’
Roepers and Skaff met again last September, together with another scholarship student. Sharing experiences and hearing how the other person is doing, that is what Nyenrode alumni want to mean to one another.
Also realizing a scholarship?
Thanks to committed alumni as Alex Roepers, Stichting Nyenrode Fonds (SNF) can offer young talent an opportunity to get their education at Nyenrode. SNF enables Nyenrodeans and others to provide scholarships for students through donations, but also generates investments in the university and funds for the renovation of monuments. The power of the Nyenrode alumni network is strong and alumni are the best ambassadors for Nyenrode. SNF involves alumni in the selection process where needed, and witnesses wonderful connections and mentoring develop between donors and scholarship students.
Stichting Nyenrode Fonds invests in the past, present and the future of Nyenrode. That is why it is one of its primary tasks to raise funds for student scholarships. Because Nyenrode is a private university, there is a big difference between Nyenrode’s tuition and the tuition at public universities. This can make it difficult or impossible for some very capable students to get adequate resources. Stichting Nyenrode Fonds believes it is important that the talent of the future can study at Nyenrode regardless of their financial situation.
In 2011, SNF started an initiative to enable revolving scholarships. The 'revolving' character means that the recipient of the scholarship has a moral responsibility to do his or her utmost best to repay the scholarship and to make a new scholarship possible for a next student. That way, new talent gets the opportunity to study at Nyenrode, with the intention for the process to repeat itself over and over again.
More information about Scholarships you can find here.
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