In Memoriam: Gerard “Ray” van Schaik – A Visionary Leader and Distinguished Mentor

in memoriam;: Gerard van Schaik

It is with the deepest respect and profound sorrow that EFMD and the entire global management education community commemorate the passing of Gerard “Ray” van Schaik, our Honorary President. His tenure as President of EFMD from 1995 to 2008 was marked by visionary leadership and unwavering dedication, profoundly shaping the landscape of management education and business worldwide.

Ray van Schaik - in memoriamRay joined Heineken N.V. in 1959, embarking on a journey that would see him ascend to the pinnacle of the corporate world. His academic foundation was laid at the Free University in Amsterdam, where he earned his Master’s Degree in Economics. Further honing his expertise, he completed the Annual Programme in Business Administration at IMEDE, now IMD, in Lausanne in 1969.

In 1974, Ray was appointed to the Executive Board of Heineken, taking charge of the group’s European interests and corporate marketing. His remarkable strategic insight and leadership culminated in his appointments as Deputy Chairman in 1983 and subsequently Chairman of the Executive Board in 1989, a position he held with distinction until his retirement in 1993.

Beyond his notable contributions to Heineken, Ray was a revered figure in the business community, holding directorships and chairmanships across various esteemed organisations, including Martinair Holland, AEGON, ABN-AMRO Bank and the Netherlands Institute of Marketing, to name a few. His breadth of experience and depth of knowledge enriched numerous boards and companies, leaving a lasting impact on the corporate landscape.

At EFMD, Gerard “Ray” van Schaik was more than a President; he embodied a humanist leader —a mentor who not only fostered global innovation and educational excellence but also brought out the best in people. ‘We all know that innovation is the key to further prosperity and welfare. But we should constantly be aware of the fact that – whatever the financial resources available – there will be very little innovation if we fail to build organisational structures in which there is ample space and freedom for the individual to use his or her imagination to create, to experiment and to sometimes fail,’ he said wisely in 2013.

Ray’s vast knowledge spanned several disciplines, and his thoughtful advice and curious mind inspired everyone around him. In his commitment to lifelong learning, he led by example, attending EFMD events and strategy meetings well beyond where others would enjoy the bliss of leisure activities that come with retirement.

His tenure as President and later as Honorary President saw EFMD grow in reach and influence, shaping the futures of countless educators, institutions, and students worldwide.

Ray’s legacy extends far beyond his professional achievements. His humility, generosity, mentorship, and genuine care for those around him touched the lives of many. Armed with a warm and friendly demeanour, anecdotes from his many travels and a repertoire of jokes that a top comedian would envy, he was not only a great leader but also a friend, mentor, and inspiration to the EFMD community and beyond.

As we mourn the loss of the great Gerard “Ray” van Schaik, we also celebrate his extraordinary life and contributions. His vision and values will continue to inspire and guide us as we carry forth his legacy. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with his family, friends, and all who had the pleasure of knowing him.

In memory of Ray, my Friend and Mentor, let us renew our commitment to the humanist leadership and to the betterment of the global business community he served so passionately.


Ray van Schaik - in memoriam2

With deepest condolences,

Eric Cornuel
President, EFMD Global on behalf of the EFMD Board and the entire EFMD community

Read Ray van Schaik’s last and ever-relevant piece from the 2009 Global Focus magazine, ‘Can business schools rescue business?’ – one of his very many contributions to thought leadership.

1 Comment

  1. Professor Howard Thomas, former Dean at SMU, Illinois and Warwick on May 8, 2024 at 13:31

    A truly wonderful, generous, selfless and inspiring individual. His experience and boundless energy together with an enviable sense of humour enabled him to guide and develop EFMD.over he last thirty years. Many thanks and gratitude for yourirresistible intellect , wisdom, authenticity and humility. I will miss you.
    Rest In Peace – my friend and role model for all of us.
    Simply put a life well lived and widely shared.