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Jos Streppel

Jos Streppel studied Economics and Management Sciences and graduated in 1978. After a successful career at AEGON, he now deploys his skills and expertise as chairman and non-executive director at various organizations.

"I value that Tilburg University teaches you science is more than just one discipline and philosophy is the foundation of all science. Also I learned in Tilburg to tackle problems at a high abstraction level and not to drown in details."

Why did you choose to study in Tilburg?
“Back then, the world looked different than it does today. I had strong doubts on what to do after high school and was interested in various subjects – from theoretical physics to history. By choosing a broad field of education like economics, I was able to postpone my decision. However, I did have to choose between business economics and general economics, with model building and math. The latter fit my interests better and offered more of a challenge. Since I was raised in a Catholic family, Tilburg or Nijmegen seemed the obvious options. Professor Schouten taught macroeconomics at Tilburg University, so the decision was quickly made.”

Who was your favorite professor?
“Next to professor Schouten, I treasure my memories of  professor Alting von Geusau. He taught law in international organizations, which was an interesting course! He was a nice man, with whom I really had contact. Thanks to that course and his inspirations I was considering getting into diplomatic services, but in the end I rejected that offer.”

Can you tell us an interesting anecdote from your time as a student?
“Professor Schouten wrote down an economic model on the blackboard on Monday morning. In that model, there was a flaw that he had failed to find the previous weekend. He challenged the students to solve this problem. After some contemplation, one of the students succeeded in correcting the model. Immediately Schouten filled in his exam booklet and the student passed the course! Unfortunately I wasn’t that student. I was the one who, after being active in business for several years, still wanted to get his degree. The beadle, Jos Peijnenburg, expected the professors not to agree with this. Before the meeting I personally approached all professors involved. This resulted, to the beadle’s big surprise, in my case being a formality so I was able to finish my studies and obtain my degree.”   

Can you describe your career?
“My career started in 1973 at one of the predecessors of AEGON, Ennia. They offered me a job and a house. Both were not easy to find in those times. This offer I could not refuse, even though I had not yet finished my studies. I held different functions in the fields of treasury and investment. In 1986 I was appointed Chief Financial Officer of FGH Bank and one year later I joined the Board of Directors. Suddenly I was a banker at a reorganizing bank. Once this bank was back on track, I became chairman of Labouchère Bank. In 1995 FGH appeared to perform poorly again, so I went back with a new team to develop and implement the strategy and subsequently, after three years, sell it. In 1988 I became CFO of AEGON, where I also was a member of the Board of Directors from 2000 until I left in 2009. Right now I am chairman of the Duisenberg School of Finance and non-executive director at various organizations like KPN and RSA.”

What are your future ambitions?
“I think it is my responsibility to continue to apply my time and experience at the right level. For example, I was chairman of the Monitoring Commission Corporate Governance as successor of Jean Frijns. I hope I can continue sharing my knowledge, giving advice and supervising for a long time.”

What role did Tilburg University/School of Economics and Management play in your life and how did it influence your career?
“In my days, one did not have a lot of connections, especially in the west of our country, when you graduated in Tilburg, nowadays this is much better. I value that Tilburg University teaches you science is more than just one discipline and philosophy is the foundation of all science. Also I learned in Tilburg to tackle problems at a high abstraction level and not to drown in details.”

Is Tilburg University/School of Economics and Management still a part of your life, if yes, in what way?
“Of course I stay in touch with the university and with alumni like Jean Frijns, Wim van den Goorbergh, Roderick Munsters and Kees Cools. But it is not the case that business transactions became easier because of the personal relations! Also I am a member of the ‘Vrienden van Cobbenhagen’, the sounding board of the university and the Campaign Board.