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Marc Verstraeten

Marc Verstraeten studied Economics (1990) and the Post Master Accountancy (1992). After completing his military service and having worked at KPMG Audit for ten years, he joined internet service company DOCDATA N.V. in 2001 and became Chief Financial Officer in 2006.

"You've been given the wonderful opportunity to get an education, so society can expect something in return."

Why did you choose this program? Why Tilburg University?

“I grew up in Hulst, Zeeuws-Vlaanderen [near Belgium], I have a Belgian mother and my father worked in Belgium. Therefore it was somewhat logical for me to study in Belgium. I had a great year in Antwerp, but the fit between university and high school was missing.  I was always interested in Finance and numbers, and some of my friends studied in Tilburg. Because of the warm welcome I received, also from dean of students Christa Thoolen, I decided to choose Tilburg University.”

Who was your favorite professor and why?

“I enjoyed working for professor Hempenius (statistics) as a student assistant, but my favorites were professors Kolnaar (general economics), Shoorlemmer and Duffhues (corporate finance). They were remarkable men that could keep you interested. Also John van Kollenburg, professor in the Post Master Accountancy wearing the most fashionable jackets, gave a fresh outlook on tough subject matter and the discipline of the chartered accountant.”

Do you have an interesting anecdote from your student life?

“My goal was to graduate without study delay, so I spent many hours in “the bunker”, the study room in building A (now building C) and did not take part in a lot of exciting extracurricular activities. I also had a job as student assistant and I taught bookkeeping at Schroevers [educational programs for administrative positions]. For a short period I considered becoming a member of student association St. Olof, but I did not want to participate in another hazing period (having already experienced one in Antwerp), and therefore I got expelled from the introduction period.”

Can you describe your career?

“After graduation I received officers training for the infantry during my military service in Ermelo. After that I worked at KPMG for 10 years. I got to know Michiel Alting von Geusau, at the time CFO of DOCDATA N.V., who was looking for a controller to take his place, when he became CEO. The Docdata company part [fulfilment for e-commerce] was still small back then, just like, but together we grew enormously the past few years. Last year, Docdata was taken over by Ingram Micro and will expand further internationally. Which part I will play in the future, either in the empty holding DOCDATA N.V. or somewhere else will become clear in the coming period. I am looking forward to a new challenge to put my effort in for the next 10 years!”

What are your ambitions?

“Besides my professional life I am engaged in society which I hope to continue. I have been part of the city council of Tilburg for over 10 years for the VVD and learned that compromising (which seems inevitable in politics) is not my strong suit.  People nicknamed me the ‘financial conscience’ of the city council and when I support an idea (this can also be someone else’s idea), it is hard for me to compromise.

Since 2008, I am commissioner at Golfpark Prise d’Eau (Tilburg’s golf course) and after some contemplation I was persuaded to also become commissioner at Willem II in 2010. With a brand new team, we started to transform the football club, which was practically bankrupt, into one of the most financially healthy teams of the Netherlands. I am pretty proud of that. Within the club people sometimes call me “a bookkeeper without any knowledge of football”, I consider this a compliment. It is important to make a difference and our wonderful club will not go bankrupt as long as I am involved!”

What role did Tilburg University/School of Economics and Management play in your life and how did it influence your career?

“Studying at Tilburg University was an important formative period in my life and I am proud to have studied here.”

Is Tilburg University/School of Economics and Management still a part of your life, if yes, in what way?

“I come back to campus regularly, for example during the opening of the new academic year of the Post Master Accountancy program, or to provide guest lectures for students. To my surprise, last year, a big lecture hall was filled with students taking part in a competition where DOCDATA N.V. provided the case, the number of questions seemed endless. It was a lot of fun to be involved this event.”