Philippe Van Puymbroeck, MSc

As far as I am concerned, education is the vehicle for social mobility.

Philippe Van Puymbroeck

A new start in Rotterdam
“I started working at Erasmus School of Law as director of education and student affairs at the beginning of 2021. In this role, I am responsible for educational policy and support, including the scheduling services, examination committee and study advisors. In addition, I advise the vice-deans of bachelor and master education about the faculty’s strategy, and we discuss the most important short and long-term challenges every week. 

A few months ago, I noticed the vacancy for this position on LinkedIn. I have already gained experience with developing strategy in and outside of higher education and improving the success rate of other educational institutions, but I had yet to experience this process at university level. I was also told to be involved with the strategy of Erasmus School of Law, so I did not hesitate to apply.”

Four degrees in eight years
“I have had the possibility to study a lot. In eight years, I completed the studies Dutch and English Language and Literature, as well as Computational Linguistics and Artificial Intelligence at the University of Antwerp. I also studied Corporate Finance and Applied Economics at the Catholic University of Leuven. During my studies I have also been chairman of a fraternity, which gave me an enhanced experience of student life; this position was just as interesting to me as my time in the lecture rooms. The social aspect of studying is just as important to me as obtaining a degree, so I am delighted that I got to experience both. 

That is why I advise all students to enrich their student time with side activities. In addition to gaining work experience, it is essential to also work on your personal development. In my view, personal leadership during your studies is just as important as the grades on your degree.”

Lack of finance in a dream job
“After graduating, I started working as an International Management Trainee at Procter & Gamble (P&G). Half of the supermarket is stocked with P&G products like Gillette, Pringles, Bosch and Head& Shoulders. It is a dream for many economics students to land a position there, but the positions are scarce. P&G only takes on two students every year. I was thrilled that I was able to start my career in such a fun and sought-after position. 

Unfortunately, it turned out that I was not challenged enough at P&G due to my background in finance. That is why I decided to switch to the ING office in Brussels, where I started my job as an International Management Trainee in the financial sector. After working in different departments, I found my place in a management position in a department dealing with investment banking and the development of financial products. I then came into contact with Deloitte Consulting through my work at ING. There I was offered a management position at the Strategy Office, in which I mainly focused on the supervisory guidelines for banks and insurance companies, such as Solvency II and Basel III. I really enjoyed this work, partly because of the international character of this position.”

A big BMW is not everything
“Despite the beautiful BMW I was driving and the generous salary I earned, I still missed something in my job. Little motivated me to go to the office every day. My brothers’ experience could not have been more different. He had been working as a ‘lector’ in higher education for years and enjoyed going to work every single day. At that moment, I decided to switch to working in education, and I have not regretted that decision for a day since. Education intrigues me, and I enjoy working for the future of our younger generations every single day. 

The switch I made to education is by far the most successful career move I could have made. As far as I am concerned, education is the vehicle for social mobility, which is why I particularly enjoy working in the ‘Randstad’ with significant urban challenges. That provides an additional dimension to the position that I already find very intriguing.”

Tripling the study success in The Hague
“After several years as a manager at Fontys Hogescholen, I started working as a director for the Haagse Hogeschool. Here, the study success rate in the first year was only 19 percent, and the students that transferred from ‘mbo’ had virtually no chance of obtaining their degree. We managed to increase the study success rate to 60 percent, in which ‘mbo’ and ‘havo’ students were evenly represented. This is a result that I am very proud of. In the coming years, I also want to make a positive contribution to the study success rates at Erasmus School of Law.

I see improving the study success as one of the most important challenges in my new position. At Erasmus School of Law, the success rate in the first year is currently approximately 50 percent. We want to increase this, so I am working with the education counsellors on a policy strategy to improve our education and study success rates.”

Giving students a voice 
Our students inspire me every day. You can learn so much from them, and they are the reason we do this work. They can, however, easily be forgotten in the debate, but it is important to listen to them. If we do so, we can improve the services within education and create a climate in which studying is both successful and enjoyable.

I hope to contribute to student satisfaction and study success at Erasmus School of Law in the coming years. In addition, I want to create an atmosphere in which my colleagues enjoy their work. I strive for satisfaction, coupled with results and quality.”

Most beautiful memory?

The birth of my son Willem-Jan;

What is your hobby?

Playing the piano and guitar, I also practice kickboxing and golf;

What is your favourite music?

I enjoy listening to alternative rock music and classical music. I am a huge fan of Jacques Brel;

What is your favourite book?

"Verdriet van België" by Hugo Claus;

What is your favourite movie?

My wife is French, so we now watch Unité 42, French-Belgian police series;

What is your favourite travel destination?

I love New York, and I enjoy going to Thailand and Malaysia. I also visit Paris several times a year. But my favourite city is Moscow;

What is your favourite food?

French cuisine;

What did you want to be when you were young?

I always wanted to become a successful investment banker, and that is what I did for years (whether I was successful, well, that is for others to decide);

Do you have any advice for students?

Enrich your time as a student with extra activities. You learn just as much from that as from obtaining your degree;

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