Herbert Smorenburg

Herbert Smorenburg


Programme: Executive MBA, 2002
Currently: Senior Manager Netherlands at Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition
Nominated by: Dory Grandia, coach and trainer on presentation and communication

Combining leadership with improving the nutritional needs of the underprivileged and at the same time giving back to your school is an enormous challenge, but somehow Herbert Smorenburg makes it work successfully. Herbert is the senior manager of the Netherlands office of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). “Success is not only achieving the goal you have set out to accomplish but also the way you progress towards this goal,” he says.

After completing an MSc in Physics from Leiden University and a PhD in Physics from Delft University of Technology, Herbert began his career at Unilever as a research and development scientist. He moved into a role as a product developer in Unilever’s Bakery Business, followed by a role as technical project leader to support Unilever’s Popular Foods in Africa. After this eye-opening experience, Herbert came to RSM for the Executive MBA. Herbert says RSM helped him to move out of his research and development environment into the frontier societies of Africa to address malnutrition through Unilever business development. He started the Unilever Health Institute for Sub-Saharan Africa and began to really grasp the complexity of conducting multinational business with both company strategy and end users in mind. Furthermore, he coaches students with their career development.

Returning to RSM’s campus regularly, Herbert provides advisory services which are fundamental to both the growth and immediate performance of the teams and students he coaches. He is also involved with RSM by participating in panel discussions, judging in competitions, speaking in forums, and to advise teams during competitions.

As the senior manager Netherlands for GAIN, and in line with RSM’s main themes, Herbert takes a pragmatic, realistic, yet principled approach to improve and create a more sustainable world. He believes that good nutrition is fundamental for the success of individuals and societies. “One billion people are undernourished and another one billion are over nourished,” he says. “I want to contribute to solve this.”

Herbert’s fulfills him on a professional and personal level. "I’m very lucky, my job brings both intellectual challenges – such as how to make nutritious foods appealing, accessible and available to low income consumers profitably and emotional motivation from working together with people from different cultures and with different organisational objectives in mind. But my main driver is spiritual: knowing that our work makes a difference to the lives of people around the world," he says. "It's the combination of those three that gets me up every morning."