Award Recipients 2017

Award Recipients 2017

Each year, RSM Distinguished Alumni Awards are presented to outstanding RSM alumni who have shown excellence in business, and for their contribution to society. This year, three recipients were recognised for business achievement, entrepreneurial spirit and social impact respectively. They were chosen by the RSM community from a shortlist of eight nominees exemplifying leadership and RSM’s values, and represent its breadth and diversity.

“RSM’s Distinguished Alumni Awards identify people who have gone above and beyond their chosen career path while staying true to the values that have been imparted to them while at RSM,” says jury member Christine Lim. “Receiving this award is a true testament of an RSM graduate who has positively affected communities and businesses in their society.”

The 2017 RSM Distinguished Alumni are:

  • Social impact: Elizabeth Rogers (International Full-time MBA 2013)
  • Entrepreneurial spirit: Zahir Dehnadi (International Full-time MBA 2010)
  • Business achievement: Sofya Shuster (MSc Finance & Investments 2011)


Innovative technology for entrepreneurs in Africa

Elizabeth Rogers lives in Nairobi, Kenya, and founded Kuunda 3D, which empowers and enables East African entrepreneurs to use innovative technology, like 3D printing and using it in collaboration with other organisations to help print educational tools and improve public health.

“Elizabeth has a clear business idea with a long-term impact in empowering and enabling entrepreneurs in East Africa with local solutions,” said Feike Sijbesma. Fellow jury member Christine Lim agreed. “It’s important to teach people how to fish rather than give them a fish. What Elizabeth does in East Africa is admirable, knowing how hard it is to navigate those markets, and also creative in helping the locals have a better livelihood by understanding what they can do with 3D printing,” said Lim.

Rogers aims to open hubs in more East African cities, so each country’s support network can help enable local manufacturing and product development, leading to better education and home-grown solutions.

Moral happiness in business

Zahir Dehnadi founded navabi during his RSM MBA studies in 2009, helping women in over 30 countries to express themselves. The fashion company is now a € multi-million enterprise with over 250 employees.

Dehnadi, who lives in Aachen, Germany, incorporates mindful elements throughout most facets of the organisation. His goal is to avoid bureaucracy, politics, burnouts and apathy. “Our vision is to reinvent business, to devise a new model that makes work productive, fulfilling, and meaningful,” he says.

“Zahir embodies the positive change that is aligned with RSM's core values,” says juror Christine Lim. “He is in a female-focused industry, and his ability to attract top talent and grow his team says a lot about his leadership and entrepreneurial skills.”

Feike Sijbesma was also impressed, pointing out Dehnadi’s clear impact and potential for scaling up. “He’s on a mission to bring corporate social responsibility to the next level,” said Sijbesma. “His creative and innovative management models make work productive, fulfilling and meaningful.”

International finance career

Sofya Shuster is accelerating international finance while giving back to the community in New York City. Her impressive career includes becoming a vice-president at ING at the age of 26, and she has helped others on their way throughout. Shuster connects and supports people, for example by founding ING’s young professional network in London. She was recently elected one of three Sustainability Champions for ING Americas.

“Sofya embodies a hard-working professional who is self-aware and cares not only about the rewards she obtains from her chosen career in finance, but also the society that she lives in,” says Christine Lim.

Shuster’s I WILL statement is ‘I WILL improve myself to improve the world’. “This remains my life’s motto,” she says, adding that she aims to be the best she can professionally and personally, for family, friends, communities, and for society.