We are delighted to announce the winners of the 2024 Cranfield School of Management Alumni Awards.

The School of Management Alumni Awards recognise and celebrate the outstanding achievements of the School's alumni and highlight the variety of ways they are making a transformative impact on their organisations, industries and communities, globally. Each year the winners serve as role models to other alumni, students, and potential students: from internationally respected leaders and entrepreneurs driving innovation, to those who go above and beyond to embody the Cranfield Community spirit and keep our alumni network connected.

The annual awards recognise and honour alumni in four categories: Distinguished Alumni Award, Entrepreneur Alumni Award, Excellence in Achievement Award for Recent Graduates, and the Alumni Service Award.

Meet the 2024 Distinguished Alumni Award Winner

Catriona Laing CB (MBA 1996)

Special Representative for Somalia and Head of United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia

Catriona Laing CBCatriona has worked in diplomacy, development and international relations for 35 years and has wide-ranging foreign policy and development experience with particular expertise in fragile states/conflict and sub-Saharan Africa. In her current role, Catriona briefs the UN Security Council and supports the country to deal with the food crisis, climate change, terrorism and violence.

She has served as British High Commissioner to Nigeria and was the British Ambassador to Zimbabwe from 2014 until 2018. She has also held several positions in government policy and international development, notably as Deputy Head of the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit, Director for Human Rights at the Ministry of Justice and the Head of the Department for International Development in Sudan.

Catriona joined the FCDO in 2012 as the UK’s senior civilian representative to the NATO operation in Southern Afghanistan. Here she led the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Helmand, Afghanistan and represented the UK government in Southern Afghanistan. She has also headed the United Nations Development Office in Somalia.

Catriona supports organisations and initiatives that progress opportunities for girls and women to reach their potential, live in freedom, and exercise their rights. She was awarded The Order of the Bath (CB) in the 2012 New Year Honours.

Meet the 2024 Excellence in Achievement Award for Recent Graduates Winner

Professor Sara Siakala (MSc Management and Corporate Sustainability 2015)

Founder and CEO, hatefree gGmbH

Sara SiakalaSara began her career at BMW, undertaking a Doctoral internship in sustainability. She followed that up by managing a two-year research project with a six-figure budget on the subject of sustainable supply chain management at BMW. She went on to work as a researcher and lecturer at the University of Ulm at the Institute for Corporate Sustainability, completing a PhD in corporate human rights responsibility.

Sara founded hatefree gGmbH, with attorney Markus Hampel, to counteract online hate. Sara and her colleagues have already been able to enforce numerous claims to cease and desist, deletions, and financial compensation payments. This kind of success is important for the victims of digital violence from a psychological viewpoint and can be life-changing.

In 2022 Sara was nominated by Cosmopolitan for the Support-Her-Award because of her commitment to victims of digital violence. She has also spoken in the media about how those affected by digital violence in the form of insults, threats, slander or sexual harassment, for example, should be able to defend against this legally without risk of costs.

Meet the 2024 Entrepreneur Alumni Award Winner

Adam Nemenyi (BGP 2018)

Group CEO, Sentry Aerospares

Adam NemenyiAfter graduating from business school, Adam founded Aerospares 2000, a leading aftermarket supplier of aircraft spare-parts, in 2003. Along its journey, Aerospares 2000 experienced tremendous growth and was recognised as a scale-up for numerous years. It also received several awards recognising its industry-leading service and quality levels, including the prestigious Queen’s Award for International Trade in 2017.

In 2019, Aerospares 2000 secured private equity investment and Adam was instrumental in the transformational acquisition of Sentry Aerospace in 2022. Under his leadership, newly merged entity, Sentry Aerospares, has firmly established itself as a global leader.

Since completing the BGP, Adam has maintained a close relationship with Cranfield. In 2022, he spoke on the BGP program and shared his journey as part of the Bettany Centre Speakers Series. In 2023, he returned to give a three-hour talk during the MBA Kobe study visit.

As well as delivering an annual lecture for the Air Transport Engineering - Maintenance Operations course, Adam also serves as a visiting lecturer at Cranfield School of Management, covering entrepreneurship and airline supply chain management. He is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.

Meet the 2024 Alumni Service Award Winner

Martin Rigby (MBA 1986)

Founder and Managing Director, ET Capital Limited and Chair, FSE CIC & FSE Fund Managers

Martin Rigby

Martin formally joined the Bettany Centre for Entrepreneurship Advisory Board in 2006 and since that time has been actively supporting the development and growth of the Centre. In particular, over the last three years, he has played a pivotal role in establishing the Cranfield Seed Fund. Martin devoted a significant amount of time to drafting and finalising the terms of reference for the Cranfield Seed Fund - this was an integral part of professionalising the pilot version of the fund, ensuring that it would remain sustainable as an expendable philanthropic endowment. Martin now participates in the monthly meetings of the Seed Fund investment committee and provides valuable insights to RIO regarding Cranfield spinouts.


Additionally, Martin has served as a judge for the Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC) over the past seven years, regularly mentoring aspiring entrepreneurs and contributing to classes and events upon request. He has supported Investor Day and given valuable feedback to growth businesses about their pitches.

Martin has been described as, “an exceptional advocate for the School, the Cranfield MBA programme and the Bettany Centre, and he does so tirelessly”.