Leadership dinner with Michael van Swaaij, Chairman of Skype

Hi everyone,

This site is looking fantastic! Thanks to Jen, Alex and others for making this possible. After some healthy procrastination, I am finally putting pen to paper (well metaphorically anyway).

Monday night for me was one of the highlights of the MBA so far. The talk and dinner with Michael van Swaaij, Chairman of Skype, was one of the first things I put in my diary when starting the MBA, so needless to say I have been waiting anxiously for this day to arrive.

The talk was very casual (no death by PowerPoint), yet inspiring and interesting. Michael looks incredibly young to be the Chairman of Skype, and an MBA graduate (from an unmentionable University) some 15 years ago! He is also remarkably down to earth and approachable.

After the talk, 15 of us went with Michael and Arnoud de Meyer, Director of Judge Business, to Queens College for dinner. Once inside the college, we introduced ourselves to Michael over champagne in the Munro Room. This was followed by an intimate and delicious dinner in the Old Senior Combination room with its beamed ceiling, old portraits and fire place. What struck me as interesting is that 6 of the 15 MBA students at dinner were women, which is of course a much higher proportion than our MBA class representation (40% vs. 25%). Read into this what you will!

We had a lovely evening, filled with good food and wine, and very interesting conversation. Michael was very open and honest and shared with us details of his family, his career to date, as well as his goals and aspirations. I have no regrets choosing this leadership dinner among the others on offer, it was well worth the wait!

Walking over the Queens College Mathematical Bridge on Monday night, it finally hit me that I am in studying in one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world. I feel very privileged to be studying at Judge Business School, experiencing the fantastic history and opportunities available at the University of Cambridge, and being exposed to such inspirational business leaders. I just wish time would slow down!




3 Responses to "Leadership dinner with Michael van Swaaij, Chairman of Skype"

Jen said... 19 November 2008 at 14:00

Julia, I had such a supernerdy moment walking over that amazing bridge... glad to know it wasn't just me! What a fun night :-)

JBS Women said... 20 November 2008 at 21:23

So Queens knows how to do dinner, huh? Will have to get someone to invite me to a formal;)

These leadership dinners are fantastic though, aren't they? I went to John's with Shumeet Banerji, CEO of Booz & Company. It as a bit daunting to be sitting at a small table with him an actually be expected to have an intelligent conversation about current world affairs. You learn tons during one short meal!!!! What a privilege!

I have to say though I am just a bit jealous of your "dinner" choice. Michael van Swaaij seemed super cool! ;)


Fabi said... 20 November 2008 at 21:54


Thanks for sharing our expirience. I was kind of "frustrated" that I was wailisted for this dinner, so at least I could read a little bit about it here :-)

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About Us

We are the women of the 2008-2009 MBA class at Judge Business School, University of Cambridge. We have descended upon Cambridge from all corners of the globe for one crazy year. Join us as we navigate a twelve-month MBA program with a 4:1 male to female ratio at an 800-year-old university. We are in for quite an adventure!

Questions? Comments? Email us at jbswomen08{at}gmail.com!

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