News

CEMS alumna awarded for social start-up for entrepreneurial refugees

Alumna Laura Di Santolo from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) has won the CEMS Junior Alumni of the Year Award for her work establishing Forward Incubator. She also supports the education and experience of current CEMS students as a mentor and guest speaker. 



Di Santolo completed RSM’s BSc International Business Administration in 2016, and then graduated from the MSc International Management/CEMS in 2018. 

The Global Alliance in Management Education (CEMS) is a co-operation of 34 leading business schools and universities with 68 multinational companies and 8 NGOs. There are three categories for CEMS Alumni of the Year Awards: senior, mid-career, and junior. Outstanding alumni are recognised for their excellent contributions to promote one or many of the CEMS values: global citizenship, cultural diversity, professional responsibility, professional accountability, and impact on society. 

A ‘fantastic social enterprise’

The CEMS Award jury report states that Laura Di Santolo has established ‘a fantastic social enterprise’ with former classmate Diederick van der Wijk (RSM CEMS, 2018), who won an RSM Distinguished Alumni Award in 2018. 

The Forward Incubator initiative, of which Di Santolo is also managing director, helps entrepreneurs who were refugees to start up their own businesses. The organisation has helped more than 110 people to start 46 businesses and achieve economic independence. 

Co-founder and nominator Van der Wijk says: “Laura has been an inspiration to me since the day she joined Forward Incubator. She has built our programme from scratch and has stunned me with her strong business and strategic acumen, unstoppable energy and resilience through all the ups and downs we experienced together in the past three years.”

RSM has been a member of CEMS since 1989, and the MSc International Management/CEMS programme was ranked 6th in the world in the Financial Times Master in Management ranking 2019.


More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top-ranked business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers. Study information and activities for future students, executives and alumni are also organised from the RSM office in Chengdu, China. www.rsm.nl 

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Marianne Schouten, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at mschouten@rsm.nl.

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