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.

You can find out more about this year's winners or browse our previous winners below.

Meet the 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award Winner

Kito De Boer (MBA 1985)

Business Leader and Entrepreneur                

Kito de BoerKito has 40 years of experience, living and working in the Netherlands, US, UK, Singapore, India, Dubai and Jerusalem. He built his career as a Strategic Advisor to the Private Sector and Government. Kito worked with McKyinse for nearly 30 years, where he founded the India, Middle East and Government practices and lived in Dubai for most of the past 20 years.

He also held a diplomatic role for 3 years as the Head of Mission of the Office of the Quartet and Managing Director of the Initiative for the Palestinian Economy.

Kito received an MBA from Cranfield University and an MSc in Management Sciences (as well as an honorary doctorate) from Loughborough University of Science and Technology. Kito serves on the Board of the Lewa Trust in Kenya which is dedicated to wildlife conservation, and is also on the Board of Mercy Corps, an NGO focused on helping the most vulnerable populations such as refugees.

Kito is an Angel Investor and Advisor to 5 start-ups.

Meet the 2022 Entrepreneur Alumni Award Winner

Martin Thatcher (BGP 2001)

Managing Director, Thatchers Cider   

Martin Brown

In 1904, William Thatcher founded Thatchers Cider on his Somerset Farm. Today, his great-grandson Martin Thatcher runs the fourth-generation family business, which still has its home on the very same farm where William made his cider.

Maintaining the heritage and traditions of the family business remains close to Martin’s heart. As a rural company, he knows just how important it is to protect the world around us. Therefore, his firm focuses on creating world class cider sustainably and maintaining the business’s Somerset orchards, not just to be the source of the highest quality apples, but also a rich haven for biodiversity.

Since 2015, Martin has been a Trustee of the Bath and West Society, a great Somerset organisation that works to promote and represent farming, agriculture and food & drink production in his home county.

His personal experience of learning all aspects of the cider making business from an early age has led Martin to be a firm believer in skills development, encouraging people to fulfil their potential through apprenticeships. 

With his familyMartin has established the Thatchers Foundation, a charitable trust which supports good causes in Somerset. He has been honoured to take up the role of Deputy Lieutenant of Somersetand through this position looks forward to being able to support all those who live and work in the county. 

Martin has been married to his wife Anne for 25 years and their grown-up children, Eleanor and Peter are both now working within the business.

Meet the 2022 Excellence in Achievement Award for Recent Graduates Winner

Daniel George (MBA 2014)

Founder, StepEx

Daniel George

Daniel George started his career as a government economist, working on solutions to protect natural resources and provide people with an adequate standard of living.

After pursuing an MBA, he was exposed to the lifechanging potential of top tier qualifications and the high cost that was a barrier to the less wealthy majority. Post-MBA he joined Deutsche Bank and subsequently became a director in a consultancy to the banks, to better understand why the financial system couldn’t effectively provide education finance.

In 2017, he founded StepEx to solve this problem – an award winning, venture backed fintech, providing the infrastructure for education providers to enable people to pay with a share of their future earnings. From 2022, financial institutions will also be able invest in these future earnings as a new asset class via StepEx.

In contrast to other providers, StepEx is the only enterprise provider of outcome-based finance, the only financially regulated provider globally, with an unrivalled level of predictive sophistication and access to data. StepEx is using this sophistication and access to unlock opportunity for everyone.

Meet the 2022 Alumni Service Award Winner

Michelle Ziling Ou (MSc Strategic Marketing 2011)

Consultant and Business Development Manager, Luxuries Committee of China General Chamber of Commerce

Michelle Ou

Michelle Ou is a communications consultant and strategist with 10+ years of international experience. Michelle graduated from Cranfield School of Management in 2011 with an MSc in Strategic Marketing and holds a BSc in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from University of Warwick.

Based in Paris, working with industry experts and former diplomats in trade and commerce in China, Michelle helps connect European SME’s and academic institutions with the Chinese market through senior stakeholder management and marketing communications. She also offers an expatriate coaching service, empowering executives to realise their full potential during their international experience, achieving meaningful personal and professional goals. Prior to that, Michelle worked at Imperial Brands, a global FMCG company in their highly competitive International Graduate Trainee Programme and gained expertise in diverse areas of sales and marketing.

Having lived and worked in China, England, Australia, Hong Kong and France, Michelle has always appreciated connecting with Cranfield communities in different parts of the world. In 2015, she worked with other enthusiastic volunteers to establish the France Alumni Community, today a network of 250+ alumni across the country. As the International President of the France Alumni Community, Michelle is proud to represent Cranfield as part of the United Kingdom Alumni Network (UKAN), bringing together France-based UK graduates via successful social and professional networking events both online and offline.

Meet the 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award Winner

Sanjay Kapoor (MBA 1997)

Business Leader and Entrepreneur

Sanjay KapoorSanjay is former CEO of Bharti Airtel Ltd, and former Chairman of Micromax Ltd, with an impressive corporate career spanning over 32 years.

He has established himself as a global leader in telecoms and allied industry. He remains one of the key leaders in building Bharti Airtel Ltd from being one of many players in the industry, to being the number one integrated telecom player in India. Sanjay’s leadership extends well beyond the confines of Airtel, as he has elevated himself as industry spokesperson globally. For over 13 years, he has played an active role in various industry forms such as GSMA, CII, COAI and NASSCOM. He has been a Board & Executive committee member of GSMA (Telecom’s global forum); Board member of Indus Towers (world’s largest telecom tower company); Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. (India’s largest integrated media company) and PVR (India’s largest movie exposition company). In 2012, he was declared the “Telecom person of the year” at the Voice and Data, Telecom Leadership Awards.

Since July 2015, Sanjay has pursued a ‘plural career’ – including entrepreneurship, consulting, investing in and mentoring early-stage ventures, and board memberships. He is currently an active member of the board at Saudi Telecom Company, (GCC’s leading Telco); VLCC (India’s largest wellness company); Tanla Platforms Ltd. (India’s largest communications platforms company) Tech-Connect Retail Pvt. Ltd. and OnMobile Global Ltd. He is also a Senior Advisor to Boston Consulting Group, Circles.life (Asia’s first digital MVNO platform, Singapore), WeLink Communications (Next-gen broadband services provider, Delaware) and Tanla Platforms Ltd.

Alongside his Cranfield MBA, Sanjay holds a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce (Hons.) from Delhi University, and is also a Graduate of The Wharton Advanced Management Program.

Meet the 2021 Entrepreneur Alumni Award Winner

Lolade Oresanwo (MBA 2011)

Co-founder, WestAfricaENRG

Lolade Oresanwo (MBA 2011) Entrepreneur Alumna of the Year 2021Lolade Oresanwo started her career in commercial banking, providing financing and business development advice to SMEs and large corporates in the oil, gas and retail sectors in Nigeria - building credibility with clients on mergers and acquisition transactions/negotiations, Business Development and Renewable Energy Sales.

She is currently the business face and co-founder of WestAfricaENRG - a renewable energy company focused on ensuring ‘Zero Waste’ to landfill in the communities they work in. For over 8 years, treating waste in a sustainable manner, creating long-term jobs, empowering women and eradicating poverty through sustainable waste management and renewable energy has been Lolade and the company’s focus. WestAfricaENRG now operates the first materials recovery facility in Nigeria, deploying technology to recycle waste into reusable materials for electricity production and composting by driving every stage of the waste management value chain providing employment for over 3000 people.

A recent recipient of the Outstanding Young Nigerian Entrepreneurs’ award, and with WestAfricaENRG recognised by the UK Prime Minister at the 2020 UK Africa Investment Summit as being a company to look out for; Lolade is very focused on developing people and empowering women in all categories of life.

Lolade also works with South West Nigeria state governments in preparing solid waste infrastructure master plans for their states. She was a member of the Lagos state 2019 transition committee, sitting on the Health and Environment sub-committee that designed the Health and Environment infrastructure plan for Lagos state, Nigeria.

Meet the 2021 Excellence in Achievement Award for Recent Graduates Winner

Dr Charmaine Griffiths (Executive MBA 2012)

Chief Executive, The British Heart Foundation 

Dr Charmaine Griffiths (Executive MBA 2012) Excellence in Achievement Award for Recent Graduates 2021From the very start of her career as a scientist, Charmaine has been passionate about the power of research to save and improve lives.

Since leaving the laboratory in 2003, Charmaine has held leadership roles in pioneering health and research organisations such as the Institute of Cancer Research, Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and Brain Research UK. In these she played a leadership role in ambitious initiatives including the London Cancer Hub and the pioneering new £75m Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery.

She is currently Chief Executive at The British Heart Foundation (BHF) and has a number of other roles including being a Non-Executive at the Human Tissue Authority and Chair of the Cranfield Trust. 

Having joined the BHF in February 2020 her focus over the past year has been on leading the BHF’s swift response to the pandemic. 

The BHF has been a pioneering research charity for 60 years and today is the largest independent funder of cardiovascular disease research and a lifeline for people with heart and circulatory disease. In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, the biggest challenge the BHF has ever faced, the organisation has played a key role providing information and support for millions of people and also played a key role in convening and funding researchers to better understand the connection between Covid-19 and heart disease globally. 

 

Meet the 2021 Alumni Service Award Winner

Hui Zhu (MBA 2012)

Co-founder, Bridge 2088UG

Hui Zhu (MBA 2012) Alumni Service Award 2021Hui Zhu is an entrepreneur, speaker, coach, branding strategy and an expert in Europe for businesses on all topics relating to retail in China – helping leading companies to connect with Chinese and Asian markets. Prior to studying for her MBA at Cranfield, Hui also studied at the Humboldt University of Berlin and completed her Bachelor’s degree at Beijing Foreign Studies University.

Growing up in a small town in the Zhejiang province of China, Hui held a childhood fantasy of becoming a diplomat. Her studies and career path have taken her on an international journey which she would never have considered possible. Her role as an entrepreneur allows her to act as a ‘connector’, connecting people and international brands with the Chinese market. Her philosophy is that real connections matter and emerge over time. She enjoys building personal relationships, and holds connections with various Cranfield alumni around the world.

Hui enjoys helping people to understand each other better and helping them to solve challenges with perseverance and creativity. She truly values the power of an interconnected world, and actively encourages people to reach out and create a community for one another.

Hui has been the International President for the Cranfield alumni community in Germany since January 2018, organising a wide range of events to help alumni to stay connected. Since graduating from Cranfield, Hui has endeavoured to connect with alumni from across the world and even organised an alumni event during a business trip to Chile in 2019, as part of Cranfield’s Worldwide Alumni Celebration.

On being named as the winner of this year’s Alumni Service Award, Hui said: “Thank you for the award for my insubstantial doing for the Cranfield alumni community. For me, to stand among those who have achieved such impressive work – it is a call to accomplish more. Thanks for the motivation and the message to other fellow graduates that every little helps.

Meet the 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award Winner

Dr Adesola Kazeem Adeduntan, FCA, FCIB (MBA 2005)

Chief Executive Officer, FirstBank Group

Dr Adesola Kazeem Adeduntan, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of First Bank of Nigeria Limited and its subsidiaries (comprising FBNBank UK, FBNBank Congo DR, FBNBank Ghana, FBNBank Senegal, FBNBank Guinea, FBNBank Gambia, FBNBank Sierra Leone and First Pension Custodian), is an accomplished professional with distinctive national and international experience in commercial banking, investment banking, development finance; banks and other financial institutions’ audit and management/risk consulting. His career spans over 25 years and includes significant executive management responsibility/oversight roles.

Prior to his appointment as CEO of FirstBank Group in January 2016, he was the Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer of the Bank. Adesola has also held several leadership roles including Director & Chief Financial Officer of Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), Senior Vice-President & Chief Financial Officer at Citibank Nigeria Limited, Senior Manager at KPMG and Manager at Arthur Andersen Nigeria.

Over the course of his career, he has garnered expertise in diverse areas of management including financial and risk management, treasury, performance management, strategy design and execution, Information Technology and Compliance. 

Adesola holds a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree. Adesola attended Cranfield School of Management as a “British Chevening Scholar.” He is also a Fellow of both the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).

Getting to know you with Dr Adesola Adeduntan

Dr Adesola Adeduntan answers questions from staff and students.

Quick questions

Dr Adesola Adeduntan answers some quick questions.

Meet the 2020 Entrepreneur Alumni Award Winner

Eyal Ben-Cohen (MBA 2004)

Founder & CEO, Verifile Holdings Limited

In 2003, the story of a security driver who faked his identity to gain employment before committing a robbery sparked my interest in the dangers of lax recruitment processes. Consequently, I founded Verifile, a technology-led background screening company, applying investigative rigour to quality data sourced from around the world within a proprietary, highly secure platform.

Having previously worked in the innovative Israeli internet industry, Cranfield is where my Verifile journey began in earnest. With the support of my lecturers and fellow students, a business plan began to take shape as I worked towards my MBA. It’s a place that provided me with access to everything an aspiring entrepreneur could hope for, including a strong network, client introductions, investment capital, research resources, and an office.

Sixteen years on, and with Verifile having just received a Queen’s Award for International Trade, I’m still passionate about creating transparency within a workforce and understanding how technology can help achieve this – and I’m still incredibly proud to be a Cranfield alumnus.

Getting to know you with Eyal Ben-Cohen

Eyal Ben-Cohen answers questions from staff and students.

Quick questions

Eyal Ben-Cohen answers some quick questions.

Meet the 2020 Excellence in Achievement Award for Recent Graduates Winner

Lucie Basch (MSc Logistics and Supply Chain Management 2014)

Co-founder and Chief Expansion Officer, Too Good To Go and CEO, Too Good To Go France

An engineer, Lucie began her career in the food-processing industry in the UK. Witnessing the immense scope of food waste in her branch, she quit her job and started thinking of a concept that would give every citizen the opportunity to fight food waste at their own level.

“Collaboration is the new competition”, and Lucie joined a couple of young entrepreneurs in Denmark that had a similar idea. Together, they created Too Good To Go, and Lucie launched the initiative in France in June 2016 with great success.

Since then, 29 million meals have been saved in 14 countries, Too Good To Go has more than 37 000 business partners and counts 500+ employees. Lucie is a member of the Carrefour Food Orientation Committee.

Lucie is a member of the Carrefour Food Orientation Committee and speaks regularly on topics of social entrepreneurship, including at Les Mines de Paris - Engineering school in Paris.

Meet the 2020 Alumni Service Award Winner

Christopher Ballnath (MSc Finance and Management 2006)

Director Business Development, ALPE Consulting

Christopher Ballnath is an international business development professional with 20+ years of experience having graduated from Cranfield School of Management in 2006 with an M.Sc. in Finance & Management and also holding a B.Sc. in Business Administration & IT from the University of Oregon (USA). Chris is currently a member of the management team for one of the leading SAP Gold Partners in Russia responsible for all international clients. Prior to that, he was the Co-Founder of Syngas Solutions, a unique Austrian/German Technology in the waste-to-energy business, Associate Director at UBS AG in Switzerland and Germany and Account Manager for EMC2 (now DELL) and Allianz AG. Chris considers himself a “true cosmopolite” having lived/worked in Australia, Germany, Malaysia, Pakistan, Russia, Switzerland, UK & the US.

In 2013 Chris started and lead the official Cranfield Alumni Network for Russia, bringing together 80+ alumni for regular social & networking events thereby making Russia one of the most active alumni groups worldwide. In 2014 he founded and lead the organisation “Alumni of Leading Graduate Schools of the World” in Moscow, connecting alumni of the world’s leading business schools with quarterly events focused on cross-networking between all alumni while inviting high profile speakers and business leaders to present on current business & geopolitical topics.

Chris was also part of the “Russia Coast to Coast” world record team where Austrian extreme sportsman Wolfgang Fasching bicycled 10,000 km through Russia from Vladivostok (East Coast) to St. Petersburg (West Coast) in only 21 days (» 480km/day).

Getting to know you with Christopher Ballnath

Christopher Ballnath answers questions from staff and students.

Quick questions

Christopher Ballnath answers some quick questions.

Previous Distinguished Alumni Award Winners

  • Kester Scrope (MBA 2001)
  • Zak Hydari (MBA 2004)
  • Omobola Johnson (DBA 2013)
  • Grenville Turner (EMBA 1992)
  • Dominic von Trotha Taylor (MBA 1990)
  • Mayank Patel (Business Growth and Development Programme 2001)
  • Tony Rice (EMBA 1990)
  • Antony Jenkins (MBA 1988)
  • Warren East (EMBA 1990)
  • John McFarlane OBE (MBA 1975)
  • Nigel Doughty (MBA 1984)
  • Ted Tuppen (MBA 1981)
  • Ian Odgers (MBA 1966)
  • Elena Ambrosiadou (MBA 1988)
  • Robert Wright (MBA 1982)
  • Andy Harrison (MBA 1983)
  • Andy Bond (MBA 1993)

Previous Entrepreneur Alumni Award Winners

  • Geeta Sidhu-Robb (Business Growth and Development Programme 2013)
  • Jamie Waller (Business Growth Programme 2010)
  • Angus Thirlwell (Business Growth and Development Programme 2000)
  • Jon Thornes MBE (Business Growth and Development Programme 2006)
  • Glenn Collinson (MBA 1994)
  • Tristram Mayhew & Will Galbraith (Business Growth and Development Programme 2006) Jerome Mayhew & Rebecca Mayhew (Business Growth and Development Programme 2010)
  • Debra Charles (Business Growth and Development Programme 2007)
  • Richard Salvage (Business Growth and Development Programme 2004)
  • Harry Clarke (MBA 1992)
  • Nick Jenkins (MBA 1999)
  • Lara Morgan (Business Growth and Development Programme 1999)
  • Lord Karan Bilimoria (Business Growth and Development Programme 1998)
  • Steve Jolliffe (MBA 1986)

Previous Excellence in Achievement Award for Recent Graduates Winners

  • Peter Kwok (MSc Finance and Management 2008)
  • Dr Kim Nilsson and Jason Muller (MBA 2012) 
  • Haitham Rizk (MBA 2010)
  • Andrew Darfoor (EMBA 2006)
  • Paul O’Callaghan (MBA 2011)
  • Andy Baker (EMBA 2005)

Previous Alumni Service Award Winners

  • Christopher Ballnath (MSc Finance and Management 2006)
  • Andy Hunter (MBA 1987)
  • The Zurich Alumni Committee
  • Robert Wright (MBA 1982)
  • Shanghai Alumni Committee
  • Paul Zaman (MBA 1988)
  • Alex Chapman (MBA 1988) and David Thompson (MBA 1969)