Natalie Righton

Natalie Righton

RISKING HER LIFE TO FEATURE GLOBAL ISSUES

Programme: MSc Strategic Management, 2000
Currently: Journalist and editor at de Volkskrant
Nominated by: Rob van Tulder, professor of international business-society management

Natalie Righton went through a career as communication professional with NGO organisations, further upgraded her skills as a writer and journalist, then travelled around the world in daring circumstances to write interesting stories about societal issues. She was the foreign correspondent for Dutch national newspaper de Volkskrant in Kabul, Afghanistan, for three years and wrote influential front-page articles and several books. 

Natalie uses knowledge from her RSM studies in her work. “I think every academic study teaches you to look at a problem from different perspectives,” she says “There's never one explanation or solution. Finding the most suitable one is the challenge.”

Success is about finding something you really enjoy doing, says Natalie. “That will make you excel in it, even if you're not the best at it,” she adds. “Those who succeed are not the ones with the most talent, but those who try the hardest.”

Her nominator, Professor Rob van Tulder, admires Natalie for her interest in development problems and the role played by companies and the private sector. “She has used her business school training to become a professional journalist, but with an interdisciplinary angle to societal problems,” he says.

Natalie worked as a press officer for aid organisations such as Doctors Without Borders for six years in countries including Congo, India and Zambia. She followed a postgraduate newspaper journalism course from which she graduated cum laude at Erasmus University Rotterdam in 2007 after which she co-produced several children's books for which she travelled around the world again.

Since early 2008, Natalie has been working at de Volkskrant, initially in Afghanistan, and now as a parliamentary reporter in The Hague and online editor in Amsterdam. She writes about defence issues, foreign affairs and international development. In addition, she has spoken in Dutch talkshows about current affairs and has made Dutch-language documentaries about Afghanistan. In 2011, she won the Tegel for research journalism, the Netherlands’ most prestigious award for journalists.

Seeing the risks she has taken to share what’s happening in the world with other people, Natalie’s remarkable courage and curiosity are stronger than her fears. Instead of running away from an explosion, her journalistic instinct is to run towards it. “I sometimes wondered if a story was worth risking my life for,” says Natalie. “My family and the editor-in-chief would say ‘no’. It’s not that straight forward though. If everyone would say no, then who would report on the situation in Afghanistan?” But at the same time Natalie says: “At the end of the day, no story is worth a life, right?”

photographer: J. Abeling