IU Alumni Awards 2023: IU honours top graduates

A recognition for remarkable careers and inspiring projects


For the fourth time, IU presents the IU Alumni Awards in the categories Professional Success, Entrepreneurship and Sustainability, as well as the Special Mention and Special Mention AI awards.

  • For the fourth time, IU presents the IU Alumni Awards in the categories Professional Success, Entrepreneurship and Sustainability.
  • For the first time, IU awards the Special Mention AI for special projects in the field of artificial intelligence.
  • For the second time, IU awards the Special Mention for a career in a field of work with a high social impact.

Erfurt, Germany, 7 November 2023. For the fourth time, IU International University of Applied Sciences (IU), the largest university in Germany, will present the IU Alumni Awards for exceptional careers, entrepreneurial success, sustainability and digital education projects of former students in the categories Professional Success, Entrepreneurship and Sustainability, as well as the Special Mention and Special Mention AI awards.

Category: Professional Success 
IU Alumni Award winner 2023: Stela Koleva 

The winner in the Professional Success category is Stela Koleva (M. A. General Management). The IU alumna from Prague has had a remarkable career within a very dynamic IT company and is now Vice President of a technology start-up:

IU-Alumna Stela Koleva

Shortly after starting her management career as a supervisor at Concur - then still a start-up company that has since been acquired by SAP - she began her master's degree at IU. Within 5 years, she developed from the technical supervisor of a department with three employees to the strategic manager of a 300-strong team. She most recently served as both Vice President of SAP Concur Services and Support in the EMEA region for defining and implementing the EMEA support organisation, as well as Country Director for SAP Concur Czech for various branches in the Czech Republic with around 500 employees from up to 60 countries. Since May 2023, she has been Vice President Support and Services for Mews, a provider of technical hospitality systems. 

“With the award for Professional Success, we would like to honour Stela Koleva's steady career development within a growing IT company, especially with regard to our IU core aspects of flexibility and equality: She has managed to take on high management responsibility in a heavily male-dominated industry at an early stage, parallel to her distance learning programme”, the jury explained.

Category: Entrepreneurship 
IU Alumni Award winner 2023: Bastian Mahmoodi 

The IU Alumni Award 2023 in the category "Entrepreneurship" goes to IU alumnus Bastian Mahmoodi 
(B. A. International Management). With his business idea, he helps skilled workers migrate to Germany and places valuable talent from non-EU countries with small and medium-sized companies:

IU-Alumnus Bastian Mahmoodi

Based on the specially developed concept "Guided Immigration Made in Germany", the recruitment company VISABEE, founded by Bastian Mahmoodi in 2018, helps international talent from the medical sector to immigrate and find a job in Germany. VISABEE initially enables small and medium-sized companies to advertise jobs in VISABEE's international partner network and carries out an initial evaluation of applicants. As soon as employees and employers reach an agreement, VISABEE takes care of everything up until the arrival at the workplace - from the organisation of language courses via the partner Berlitz, to support in administrative matters. Soon, VISABEE plans to become active in the area of mobility in addition to its current focus on healthcare and to launch immigration concepts for professional drivers. A platform for simplified access for corporate customers is also being developed.

“By realising his business idea, Bastian Mahmoodi is building bridges between small and medium-sized companies and talented people from outside the EU, thereby helping to reduce the shortage of skilled workers in a socially very important area”, said the jury, explaining its decision.

Category: Sustainability 
IU Alumni Award winner 2023: Hendrik Marx-Altkuckatz 

This year's Sustainability Alumni Award goes to Hendrik Marx-Altkuckatz (M. A. Business Administration). The IU graduate drives projects in an internationally active company with a focus on the agriculture, construction and energy sectors that serve the goal of accelerating the decarbonisation of the group:

IU-Alumnus Hendrik Marx-Altkuckatz

As part of BayWa's climate strategy, which is in his area of responsibility, he set up a system called "Internal Carbon Price" (ICO) together with the CFO, Controlling and other internal stakeholders, in which greenhouse gas emissions are priced internally. This calculated budget is used on an annual basis exclusively to finance measures that have a positive contribution to emissions, such as the switch to electric cars and more climate-friendly heating systems, various efficiency improvements to technical equipment, etcetera. The ICO is also used to calculate the carbon price. The special thing about this is that unlike other companies or the so-called "shadow price", they assign a direct monetary value to their emissions and reinvest them for a specific purpose. In this way, it has established a governance system that enables targeted investments throughout the Group and on the other hand, can ensure the fulfilment of the climate strategy. In addition, he is building up the business innovation "BayWa Carbon Services" as its head, which offers advice on implementing climate strategies and works with cooperation partners such as Siemens AG / SiGreen, CAS AG / Sust:ain Data, Vista GmbH and RSS - Remote Sensing Solutions GmbH.

"Hendrik Marx-Altkuckatz implements projects with a high sustainability claim and strong impact in a large company on an international basis", said the jury.

Category: Special Mention
IU Alumni Award distinction for Marcus Courvoisier

For the second time, IU is presenting the Special Mention award for a career in a field of work with a high social impact: 

IU-Alumnus Marcus Courvoisier

this award goes to Marcus Courvoisier (B. A. Social Work), who took over the management of a youth centre immediately after completing his dual studies at a young age. After working as the Hamburg site manager of the daycare centre provider KMK kinderzimmer, he is currently in a management position as site manager at the Rudolf Ballin Foundation.

"With the Special Mention award, we would like to honour Marcus Courvoisier's rapid career and his professional commitment in an extremely important area for society", said the jury.

Category: Special Mention AI
IU Alumni Award distinction for Sven Steinert

For the first time, IU is presenting the Special Mention AI award for special projects in the field of artificial intelligence that aim to have a particular impact on our society: 

IU-Alumnus Sven Steinert

This award goes to IU graduate Sven Steinert (B. A. International Management), who, as Managing Director of his platform SUSTAINX, combines AI-based technology with collective intelligence from science and business in order to translate their sustainability ambitions into concrete measures. SUSTAINX is a sustainability platform and community with over 4,000 members that provides access to over 2,500 best practices and solutions, facilitates cross-functional collaboration in companies and enables cross-industry networking with sustainability thought leaders. The AI-based community solution offers members the possibility of structured knowledge transfer to find specific topics and suitable offers for solutions, to develop solutions together with other members and to discuss them - moderated by a specialist group for sustainability and consultants. 

"With his SUSTAINX platform, Sven Steinert is making an important contribution to promoting the networking of sustainability strategists and thus also the sustainable transformation in companies and institutions with the help of AI technology", said the jury.

Award ceremony in early 2024 

The Alumni Awards will be presented at the next virtual alumni event in the first quarter of 2024. As a prize, the award winners can choose a further training course from the wide range of courses offered by the IU Academy with a duration of up to four months full-time or eight months part-time.

About the IU Alumni Awards 

Since 2020, IU International University of Applied Sciences has been honouring special successes and projects of its graduates with the IU Alumni Awards. The members of the jury in 2023 are: Prof. Dr. Holger Sommerfeldt (Rector of IU), Prof. Dr. Anastasia Hermann (Member of the Rectorate) and Thorsten Pütsch (Director Communications at IU). 

More information on the IU Alumni Awards and all award winners can be found at:


With over 130,000 students, IU International University of Applied Sciences (IU) is the largest university in Germany. The private, state-recognised educational institution with its headquarters in Erfurt began operations in 2000 and is now represented in more than 35 German cities. Students from over 190 nations design their studies according to their needs: whether practice-integrated dual studies, flexible distance learning or individual “myStudium”, which combines online self-study and campus life. IU wants to give people worldwide access to personalised education for a fulfilled and self-determined life. In more than 250 bachelor's, master's and MBA programmes, including over 50 in English, IU teaches students key skills relevant to the future. A digitally supported learning environment and the use of AI solutions help students to achieve optimal learning results and experiences. IU is one of the first universities in the world to have developed and deployed its own AI-supported learning buddy. IU cooperates with over 15,000 companies and supports them in the academic training of professionals. Partners include Motel One, Vodafone, AWO and Deutsche Bahn. Further information at: iu.org

The AI-supported learning buddy "Syntea" is now available as a public demo version in the ChatGPT store at the following link: https://chat.openai.com/g/g-P5olqoCPc-syntea