Sustainability and nutrition are key issues for Distinguished Alumni

Two remarkable alumni from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) have been chosen to receive this year’s Distinguished Alumni Awards – and both of them are working on the philanthropic issues of global nutrition and sustainability. The awards were presented this afternoon to Herbert Smorenburg (Executive MBA 2002) and Alba Tiley (MSc in Strategic Management 2010) during the sixth annual RSM Leadership Summit at the historic Van Nelle Ontwerpfabriek in Rotterdam, one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

RSM’s Distinguished Alumni Awards recognise alumni who have distinguished themselves through excellence in business, society, outstanding entrepreneurial spirit or through other prestigious qualities. They are exemplary representatives of RSM’s core themes.

RSM Faculty and staff members were asked to choose and nominate alumni from the 29,000+ RSM alumni network; these individuals hold positions in private, public and non-profit organisations worldwide. Then, RSM and the wider business community were invited to vote for their favourites from a shortlist of 13 nominees.

The winners were presented with a statuette of Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus, the great 15th century Dutch humanist and theologian, after whom the university was named, by RSM Dean, Professor Steef van de Velde at the RSM Leadership Summit, a flagship annual event with presentations from the world’s most influential senior executives in front of the entire RSM community; alumni, VIPs, corporate relations, faculty and staff, as well as the wider business community.

Distinguished Alumnus Dr Herbert Smorenburg

Distinguished Alumnus Dr Herbert SmorenburgHerbert Smorenburg was nominated by Dory Grandia, RSM’s coach for international MBA post-experience candidates. He is Senior Manager Netherlands at Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition. 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.”

After an MSc in Physics from Leiden University and a PhD in Physics from Delft University of Technology, he joined Unilever as a research and development scientist, moving into product development in the organisations bakery business, then into leading technical projects to support Unilever’s Popular Foods in Africa. After this eye-opening experience, Herbert came to RSM to study for his Executive MBA and says RSM helped him to move 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 grasp the complexity of conducting multinational business with company strategy and end users in mind. He returns to RSM regularly to provide coaching and advisory services to teams and students, as well as joining panel discussions, judging competitions and speaking in forums.

Distinguished Alumna Alba Tiley

Alba Tiley is UN Partnerships and Sustainability manager at Royal DSM and works on a nutrition project that improves the lives of vulnerable people worldwide, in partnership with the UN World Food Programme. She was nominated by RSM’s sustainability co-ordinator Joey Johannsen.

“Given the issues we face today ranging from climate change to social inequality, it’s difficult to not feel personal responsibility and a desire to act on this,” says Alba Tiley. “We don’t have the luxury to sit back and expect other people or other sectors to fix things for us.”  Her role is part of the co-development of nutritional products for the vulnerable and malnourished; small children, pregnant women and people living with HIV/AIDS. So far the 'Improving Nutrition, Improving Lives' partnership has improved the nutrition of 21 million people and aims to reach 30 million annually by next year.

After leaving Canada to study at RSM, Alba researched strategic multi-stakeholder alliances and how they create value for various sectors; her master thesis led to her role at Royal DSM. Alba says she feels fortunate to work on issues she’s passionate about.

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is ranked among Europe’s top 10 business schools for education and among the top three for research. 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 carry their innovative mindset into a sustainable future thanks to a first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes. RSM also has offices in the Amsterdam Zuidas business district and in Taipei, Taiwan.

For more information on RSM or on this release, please contact Marianne Schouten, Media & Public Relations Manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

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