The School of Management annual awards recognise special achievements and contributions of alumni and provide Cranfield with an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate those who exemplify the values of the School. Alumni awards also allow the School to showcase the impact of Cranfield globally and highlight the accomplishments of individuals who may serve as role models to other alumni, students and potential students.

Recipients will be formally presented with their awards on 11 July 2018 at a celebratory dinner in London, hosted by the Chief Executive and Vice Chancellor, Professor Sir Peter Gregson and Acting Head of School of Management, Professor Lynette Ryals.

Many congratulations to them all.

Zak Hydari

Distinguished Alumnus of the Year 

Zak Hydari (Full Time MBA 2004), Chief Executive of Rasmala Group

The Distinguished Alumnus Award is the School’s most prestigious award and recognises truly outstanding achievements of our alumni over sustained periods of time. Zak Hydari is a British entrepreneur and investor. He has over 20 years investment experience in special situations, PIPEs and business turnarounds. He is Chief Executive of Rasmala Group, a leading alternative investment firm. Rasmala invests as principle, on behalf of its investors, which include leading pension funds, family offices, corporates, financial institutions and government entities. The group manages total client and proprietary assets of over $2 billion and invests globally. He was previously Chief Executive of HBG Holdings, a special situations private equity firm.

Zak has served in various other capacities including as Board and Executive Committee Member of Muscat Finance Company, a publicly listed company on the Muscat Stock Exchange; Non-Executive Director of Neutrahealth Plc, one of the largest vitamin and supplement suppliers in the United Kingdom; Co-Chairman of British Conservatives Abroad (Dubai and Northern Emirates), and Board Member of the Middle East Advisory Panel of the Corporate Finance Faculty, part of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales. 

Jamie Waller

Entrepreneur Alumnus of the Year

Jamie Waller (Business Growth Programme 2010), Serial Entrepreneur

The Entrepreneur of the Year award recognises those who have achieved outstanding entrepreneurial success while upholding the highest standards of business practice and also acknowledges the importance placed on entrepreneurship teaching and research at the School.

Jamie is a serial entrepreneur that has built, managed and sold a variety of businesses in both the outsourcing and financial technology space. In 2017 after his last exit he started an investment fund, Firestarters www.firestarters.co.uk that focuses on providing growth equity to early stage but profitable businesses. Alongside his work at Firestarters,

Jamie is also an Author of the business book; Unsexy Business, www.unsexybusiness.com and philanthropist donating both his time and money to a charity for disadvantaged children from London’s east end and the Princes Trust’s enterprise program. 


Kim Nilsson Jason Muller

Excellence in Achievement for recent graduates

Dr Kim Nilsson and Jason Muller

(Full Time MBA 2012), Co-founders, Pivigo

The Excellence in Achievement Award for Recent Graduates recognises those who have made significant progress in their careers within ten years of graduating from the School.  This award recognises those who have the potential to reach the highest levels of business success in the future. 

The seed for Pivigo, the business founded by Kim and Jason, was planted when they met at Cranfield during their MBA. Both came to Cranfield in the search for a new career and purpose. Kim from her first career as a PhD Astrophysicist and researcher at a European institute, and Jason from a background as entrepreneur in the recruitment industry.

Kim, who is actually a fourth-generation female entrepreneur, graduated with a PhD from Copenhagen University, and worked for four years as a scientist at international institutes in Europe, before deciding on a career change and taking the opportunity to come to Cranfield to gain an MBA and business knowledge.

Jason migrated to the UK from Australia in 2005, and joined the fast growing recruitment industry. Soon after, he co-founded the Pathology Group, a range of healthcare recruitment brands, and grew the business to a £28M turnover before exiting and joining Cranfield’s MBA.

Kim and Jason founded Pivigo from a business plan originally written during the Cranfield MBA, and started the business in 2013. Pivigo has evolved significantly since then, and is now scaling rapidly, as well as gaining a reputation for disrupting the data science and artificial intelligence service market. Kim is CEO and Jason COO, and both lead the team of 17 members, based in central London.

Zurich Alumni Group

Alumni Service Award

The Zurich Alumni Committee


Ilias Bosdas (MSc in Thermal Power 2010)

Stefan Dobritzsch (MSc  in Finance and Management 2012)

Jens Kruger (MSc in Logistics and Supply Chain Management 2008)

Melanie Luescher (MSc  in Logistics and Supply Chain Management 2013)

Oliver Ripplinger (Full Time MBA 2012)

Pratik Yadav (MSc in Logistics and Supply Chain Management 2014)

The Alumni Service Award recognises those who have made an outstanding contribution in a volunteer capacity over an extended period of time, and acknowledges the vital role that alumni have to play in the continued strength and success of the School. 

After his graduation in 2009 Jens Krüger set up the Cranfield Alumni-group on LinkedIn. However, up to 2012 only a handful of Alumni had joined and there was very little interaction between the members.

In January 2013, Cranfield University organised an informal gathering in Zürich where Oliver Ripplinger and Jens Krüger met and spoke about possible ways to invigorate the group and Vivien Ho joined them in their effort.  The three went “hunting” for members and invited them to join the LinkedIn-group. Soon the first local gathering was organised and after a relatively slow start a group of regular participants developed.

Other events like a barbecue at the lake Zürich, bowling and a cheese-fondue at the Christmas market in Zürich were added. The number increased to 10 Alumni. At that time Melanie Lüscher, Pratik Yadav and Stephan Dobritzsch joined the team, and the number members in the LinkedIn group surpassed 100.

To leverage the professional background of the group, member company visits were added to the calendar including Estée Lauder, PWC, the Swiss TV-station, and a tour behind the scenes of the Mainstation Zürich was also arranged. More informal “Beer & Burger” events were included in the calendar and became equally popular. As a result of the work of the Zurich Alumni Committee, the number of members of the LinkedIn group has reached now more than 250.

After a short break in the 2nd half of 2017 it took only a short invite to bring more than 20 alumni together for a new year’s reception where Ilias Bosdas also joined the core team.