Distinguished Alumni Awards 2015

Distinguished Alumni Awards 2015

You can also read more about the RSM Distinguished Alumni Awards here.

Young leader

Maria van der Heijden, who received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2009, announced the recipient of the 2015 Young Leader Award.

Recipient was Alumnus Stef van Dongen, who graduated from RSM’s MSc programme in Business-Society Management in 2007, started social enterprise Enviu, which creates innovations and ventures that address some of the world’s large social and environmental issues. Van Dongen also helped kick-start various sustainable innovation and social impact projects.

“Enviu is innovative and started as social entrepreneurship – this is the enterprise of the future for many RSM students. It’s about inclusive economy,” said van Dongen to the Summit audience. He told them he started Enviu ten years ago at RSM. It addresses bigger issues such as pension funds as well as nutritious food, through companies in Ghana, Kenya and Brazil. “Thank you for the opportunity – for me leadership and university is a pillar for professional development and personal development. The world is unpredictable. Leadership is about knowing how to make the right decision in the moment. Your skillset and knowledge is one part., Knowing yourself, your passion – what is meaningful, what you care about is another important part. Leadership is about purpose in life. You need to discover your life’s work. You need to discover your energy and your soul,” he said. “University shouldn't only be about grades, but also about discovering life."

Senior Leader

The RSM Distinguished Senior Leader Award 2015 went to Niels Eldering, who graduated from RSM’s MSc programme in Technology and Innovation Management in 2003. “Niels shows critical thinking in tapping into the talents of students,” said jury member Herbert Smorenburg, who won the RSM Distinguished Senior Leader Award 2014 and who presented Eldering with the Award. 

As technology transfer officer at the European Space Agency (ESA), Eldering manages the ESA’s 11 Business Incubation Centres across Europe, supporting more than 100 new start-up companies each year. Eldering links around 65 students from the MSc in International Management/CEMS programme to 56 unique business projects annually during its curriculum’s block seminar, engaging future leaders from RSM to disseminate space technologies to improve society. Through this annual week-long event, as well as providing guest lectures, Eldering has brought ESA into the business world, and technology into management education.

Eldering said receiving the award was a great honour and explained that ESA had been active for 50 years.  Leadership is about collaboration and about industries working together, he explained, and said the work was somewhere in-between competition and collaboration to develop technology into domains other than rockets. “We started a course for other business students about this fantastic industry; don’t ever forget where you’re coming from,” he said. “And don’t ask your university what they can do for you. Ask the university what you can do for them.”