Feike Sijbesma voted Alumnus of the Year of Utrecht University

Utrecht University has awarded the title 'Alumnus of the Year' to Feike Sijbesma. He received the second instalment of the award during the celebration of the university's 381st anniversary. A unanimous jury conferred the title on the CEO of Royal DSM for using what he learned at Utrecht University and his position as a CEO/entrepreneur to fight for a better future, and becoming a well-known 'advocate for the future'.

Alumnus van het jaar Feike Sijbesma en collegevoorzitter Marjan Oudeman.
Alumnus of the Year Feike Sijbesma and board chairman Marjan Oudeman.

Feike Sijbesma (b. 1959) studied medical molecular biology at Utrecht University. After graduating, his career quickly took off, and in 2007 he became the CEO of DSM. According to the jury, Sijbesma is the epitome of an ethical entrepreneur, concerned with issues of sustainability, food, and the natural and human environment. He believes that businesses have a much greater role to play besides realising profit and returns.


His efforts have even been recognised by the World Economic Forum in the Swiss Davos, which hailed him as the most important driving force behind circular enterprise, while the UN has named him Humanitarian of the Year for his efforts to combat malnourishment. Recenly the World Bank appointed him as Climate Leader, together with amongst others Mr Kofi Annan. The jury calls Sijbesma's career an inspiration to all students at Utrecht University.

In April 2018, Fortune named Sijbesma one of the world's 50 greatest leaders.

Be aware of the impact you might have.

Academic square cap.
Feike Sijbesma
Alumnus of the Year of Utrecht University

During the celebration of the Dies, Sijbesma made a statement (pdf) verantwoordelijkheid te nemen, waarin hij studenten en wetenschappers voorhield: “Be aware of the impact you might have and take responsibility for your actions. After all, everyone in this hall is privileged. If it is still true that every 6 seconds, somewhere in the world, a child dies of hunger in its mother’s arms – for let’s not forget that nearly a billion people go hungry each day – can we really call our system successful?”

In April 2018, Fortune named Sijbesma one of the world's 50 greatest leaders.


Alumnus of the Year

Alumni play an important role in Utrecht University's academic community. To recognise their contributions, Utrecht University presents the Alumnus of the Year award annually on the university's anniversary.

Utrecht University's Alumnus of the Year is a person who has achieved major impact and advancements in their field, a genuine 'bright mind' who is not afraid to verge off the beaten path and has taken a lead in tackling the challenges facing society. Over the coming year, Feike Sijbesma will serve as a special ambassador for Utrecht University.