Alumni awards: bringing business and society closer
Three alumni from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) built careers in diverse fields but with the same goals: to be the best they could be by bridging silos. Their impact on business and society has been acknowledged in the annual RSM Distinguished Alumni Awards.
Story by Dorine Schreiner
The award recipients were announced at the RSM Leadership Summit on 7 October. These three women were chosen by the RSM community from more than 30,000 RSM alumni worldwide, for their excellence and outstanding accomplishments in three categories: business achievement, entrepreneurial spirit and social impact. The RSM Distinguished Alumni Awards (DAA) are presented annually.
Investing with social purpose
Based in Silicon Valley, California, angel investor Christine Emilie Lim (International Full-time MBA 2010) brings more women into the angel investing space. Her company, Wingpact, has created a community of like-minded women to educate them about activating their financial resources by investing in start-ups that they care about.
Christine Lim says all this year’s distinguished alumni have had a great impact on communities and business. ‘The entrepreneurs I’ve invested in not only grow their business but also evolve into stronger individuals and more mindful employers who themselves can become angel investors,’ she says.
Pipeline of female entrepreneurs
Feeding investors into the system results in more entrepreneurs being funded. ‘We source, screen and build the pipeline of women and under-represented entrepreneurs who have solid, scalable business ideas,’ says Christine, who was awarded the DAA for her business achievements.
But it’s not easy. Christine deals with ever-changing regulations in early-stage investing, including equity crowdfunding, to grow her company and innovate within Wingpact’s industry. ‘Success is all about the journey and not the destination. I want to continue to inspire the future generation to take the road less travelled.’
Bringing together global academics
Roos de Wit-Goedhart, a triple RSM alumna with an RSM bachelor, master and MBA degree, won the entrepreneurial spirit award. In 2013 she founded Study Tours, which offers tailored study tour programmes for academics worldwide.
‘I believe we can change the world through education,’ says Roos. ‘We’re facing world and business issues that won’t be solved with the old way of working. We need to work across silos such as industries, companies and departments to solve these issues, which is exactly what we do during our Study Tours programmes.’
On top of the world
Study Tours’ sessions are taught by top university academics and high-calibre company speakers. ‘We put people out of their comfort zone – sharing knowledge, experience and best practices across the world,’ says Roos.
‘Receiving this RSM award feels like I’m standing on top of the world. I want to be the best I can be, and RSM has taught me how to do that by turning myself inside out and come up with a great business plan.’
Roos says she likes giving back what she has learned to the people around her. ‘Learning fuels my spirit, and I like to ensure that Study Tours delivers what we promise: a closed learning loop for our participants.’
Roos’ great ambition, knowledge and networking skills have enabled her to break standard thinking patterns and silos. ‘I want Study Tours to become the most international study tour organisation for academics, and I plan to expand my business across continents.’
Pushing healthcare boundaries
Debby van der Schuit, a 2010 graduate from RSM’s MSc International Management/CEMS programme, was presented with her DAA for social impact. She used her managerial and business mindset to address a societal need and pushed the boundaries of the healthcare industry – and politics. She advocates for brothers and sisters who fulfil an underestimated yet important role in caring for their disabled sibling.
With her documentary, Op zoek naar mijn zusje (In search of my sister), Debby records her personal experiences with her sister Wendy, who has Down’s Syndrome. Debby hopes to achieve a working method that includes brothers and sisters in their sibling’s care plan. ‘Wendy will outgrow our parents and the care will be left with me. Brothers and sisters present when decisions are made means we can voice concerns and set our boundaries.
‘Our political perception is that we’re a “participation society”. But who does what?’ Debby adds that she wants to reduce the relatively high incidences of burnouts and depression among people with disabled siblings. ‘The care industry can’t change the situation. I needed to go to the source; the political system. Speaking to the permanent committee to the Netherlands’ House of Representatives was the ultimate crown.’
Debby is happy she’s achieving societal goals with the documentary and in her daily life as a project manager for Connectis. At RSM, Debby learned how to bring together the ideas of stakeholders in different sectors on small-scale and macro-levels. ‘Businesses, non-profits and government have to collaborate. I like connecting these different worlds towards a solution that’s supported by multiple parties.’ Debby’s persuasion, business skills and care responsibilities turned into a project for political change for thousands of families in the Netherlands. She hopes that it inspires other brothers and sisters to voice their own experiences.
‘I’m touched that my personal journey was acknowledged by fellow alumni and members of the business community. It also shows that the business world and society are growing closer,’ she said.
This article was first published in RSM Outlook winter 2016. You can download RSM Outlook here.