Time to say goodbye – by Bert van Haastrecht – Director Programs M2i

From May 1st 2021 I will retire, and it is time to look back and say goodbye.

In November 1980 (more than 40 years ago) I started my career at Hoogovens in IJmuiden. The first years I worked in the environmental department focusing on research on waste materials and soil contamination, after which I switched to R&D. Over the years I have been involved in a large number of different projects in the field of surface technology and packaging steel. I have fulfilled all kinds of positions from researcher to project leader, group leader, department head and ultimately innovation manager.

At one point I was looking at the next step again, and it was Peter Jongenburger (as chairman of the Executive Board of NIMR)  who pointed me to a position as program-manager at NIMR. I made the switch to NIMR in the beginning of 2007. According to the agreement with Peter I would be seconded for three years and then return to IJmuiden.

Three years later everything had changed. Peter Jongenburger had left the company, and the steel group’s financial results were heavily negative. There was a reorganization in IJmuiden and a suitable position was not immediately available. At the same time, I had a great time at NIMR, which had meanwhile been renamed to M2i. Everything was running smoothly there and they urged me to stay. I therefore decided to extend my secondment contract.

I have now been with M2i for over 14 years and have experienced many changes in our organization and manner of working. A major change was the top sector policy, as a result of which the Technological Top Institutes, despite demonstrable success, no longer received direct subsidies from the government. After that, M2i intended to continue as an independent organization by generating additional income with recruitment services. This was not successful, which forced us to reorganize again.

I became the director programs and M2i moved to a new housing at the TUD.  On behalf of the 4TU we are supported by TUD services. After a considerable period of familiarization, we understand each other better and the collaboration runs smoothly.

M2i has developed into a stable organization, with a strong and motivated team and a great network. The importance of materials research is more evident than ever before and essential to solve all kind of challenges that society is facing. The pipeline is brimming with new initiatives and project proposals. In this way we can help companies to realize innovations that contribute to a better society. At the same time, new researchers are trained, who will later occupy key positions in society.

Now a new period has dawned for me. I am going to enjoy my retirement. I will certainly take it easier. At the same time there is a grandchild, a large list of overdue maintenance, and the desire to spend more time outdoors. It is also important that the health of my support and anchor Astrid (my wife) is improving after having been very ill. We now aim to enjoy life and do a lot of fun things together. I thank my colleagues at M2i and the many contacts at universities, research institutes and industry for their support in the past years and wish you all every success in further developing the M2i program and community.

Take care!  Bert van Haastrecht | Director Programs | Materials innovation institute (M2i)