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Let’s recognise and celebrate positive impact – in different shapes and forms! Mark Kychma, Micky Chen and Louise Oprel each won a Distinguished Alumni Award 2023 from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) for their contributions to improve the lives of others. There were 17 nominations in three categories: the Alumni Achievement Award, the Alumni Volunteering Award, and the Force for Positive Change Award.

The Distinguished Alumni Awards are presented annually to outstanding alumni of the school, in recognition of excellent contributions to society, business and the RSM community. Nominees for these awards are chosen from RSM’s network of more than 50,000 alumni.

Alumni Achievement Award

The RSM Alumni Achievement Award acknowledges alumni who are a force for positive change in business or society. This can be as a part of a corporate community, as an entrepreneur, or as an individual whose life mission is to improve the lives of others or to protect or improve the environment.

Micky Chen (IBA, 2013) was recognised for her entrepreneurial endeavour to empower students to enhance their job prospects and gain valuable real-world experience on Minite, which has over 15,000 students on the platform and thousands of study-related freelance jobs created through the platform. The DAA jury said Minite’s mission is all about fairness, inclusiveness, equal opportunities and creating study-relevant job opportunities. “Micky really represents the entrepreneur of tomorrow: a woman with a multicultural background who dared to enter the tech world, and gives back to serve both students and companies,” they said.

Alumni Volunteering Award

The RSM Alumni Volunteering Award recognises alumni volunteers who share their time or resources to contribute to the School’s reputation, research, education and student experience, or help promote alumni relations.

Louise Oprel (MSc Business Information Management, 2016) is the most active mentor of all times on the RSM MentorMe platform, where she acts as an advisor and coach to RSM students on their journey to become business professionals. “Louise has invested so much of her time in the growth and well-being of the RSM community. She translates her own experience as a first-generation student receiving guidance to give back as a mentor herself. She is now the all-time mentoring champion helping young talents looking for direction. Her dedication offers wisdom and value to the community.”

Force for Positive Change Award

The RSM Positive Change Award highlights the work being done by alumni in service of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. This year’s award acknowledges an alumnus who is initiating and leading action to promote peaceful and inclusive societies, provide access to justice for all, or build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions in line with SDG 16.

Mark Kychma (Full-time MBA, 2007) lived in Lviv in Ukraine when Russia invaded his home country in 2022. He used his leadership skills to help people on all grounds from transporting them to safe havens and providing medical help, to raising funds and donations and making sure all is put in place by his team. The jury agreed that what Mark did was brave and selfless, and a heartbreaking and inspiring example of human resilience and perseverance. “Mark's commitment to assist and support war refugees, his tireless hours and days spent raising funds for them through his network and help people cross borders is a true example of positive change,” said the jury.

The jury and award ceremony

The recipients in each category were determined for 50 per cent by a jury consisting of previous DAA recipient Teodor N. Cătăniciu, faculty members Maria Carmen Punzi and Prof. Lieselot Bisschop, director of corporate marketing and communications Willem Koolhaas, and director of RSM’s positive change Initiative Eva Rood. The other votes came from the RSM community (40%) and general public votes (10%) When choosing award recipients, the jury kept RSM’s mission and core values in mind.

This year’s DAA recipients were announced during the Alumni Recognition Dinner on 30 November 2023 in Het Scheepvaartmuseum (The National Maritime Museum) in Amsterdam. The event recognises alumni who have contributed to the school in various ways, and to celebrate the Distinguished Alumni Award recipients. The recipients received a trophy made from upcycled wood and plastic.

Nominations were submitted by members of the RSM community: students, staff, faculty members and alumni. Other nominees for the RSM Distinguished Alumni Awards 2023 were Ali Fenwick, Georgios Lamprisis, Guénola Nonet, Guðmundur Kristjánsson, Ines Besbes. Jan-Philipp Hotze, Margriet Vonno, Michael John Magdongon, José Enrique Viniegra Escanero, Thomas Verkooijen, Wouter Klinkhamer, Eveline de Vink, Laura Di Santolo, and Natalie Righton.

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.

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Erika Harriford-McLaren, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

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