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Wim van den Goorbergh

Wim van den Goorbergh has held top positions at Rabobank Nederland. These included CFO and vice chairman of the executive board. He graduated from Tilburg University in 1971 in General Econometrics & Mathematical Economics.

Why, back then, did you decide to study in Tilburg?
“In 1966, I did very well in my examinations at the secondary school in The Hague. Although it seemed more obvious to study mathematics or physics, I actually chose economics because I was curious about this subject. And my interest in social, political and economic issues grew.

"At that time, you went to Rotterdam for business economics and to Tilburg for macroeconomics. On account of its reputation, I chose Tilburg"

Who was your favorite professor and why?

“After graduation, I became an assistant to Professor Schouten but he was not my only favorite. Van de Klundert (macroeconomics), Stevers (public finance) and Plattel (philosophy) were also outstanding sources of inspiration for me. These four scholars have broadened my view of the world and encouraged me to think, each in their own different way.”

Do you have an interesting anecdote from your student days? Please tell us about it.

“The occupation of the university in 1969 made a deep impression on me. Although I was one of the more moderate student activists, I also thought it was high time for reform. At some point I joined a group of professors and students who approached the board of trustees in order to explain what was taking place and why reforms were necessary. I will never forget the governors’ incomprehension. Since then, I have acquired a sixth sense for leaders who have lost contact with their organization.”

How has your career been?
“After finishing my PhD thesis, I struggled for a while with the question: do I proceed further with a scientific career or not? People told me that I certainly had the capacity to do so. Despite that, I chose differently because, just as in 1969, I was curious about other things and I wanted to broaden my perspective. I worked at Rabobank from 1980 to 2002. In various functions and in many areas of financial services. During the last 10 years, I sat on the executive board, serving lastly as vice-chairman and CFO. In 2002, it was time for a new reorientation: after many years in a high executive position, it became time for an advisory and coaching role in the background, mostly as a non-executive director.”

What role has the university played in your life?

“After my studies, I became an assistant professor under the guidance of Professor Schouten. I developed my teaching skills as well as conducted scientific research in various areas. During my first research project, I studied a report entitled ‘The Limits to Growth’ by the European think-tank The Club of Rome. This report is once again highly topical. Finally, I received my PhD in 1978 with the thesis A macroeconomic theory of employment. I think that my time spent at Tilburg University provided a solid grounding for my later career at Rabobank and has also been very useful for my present duties.”

"The occupation of the university in 1969 made a deep impression on me"

Does Tilburg University still play a role, and if so, in what way?

“I have always really enjoyed my involvements with Tilburg. From time to time, I gave guest lectures at the university, I was a member of the supervisory board for TiasNimbas, and I supported the initiative for the Tilburg Center of Finance. I am currently the chairman of the Nexus Institute which is located on campus and has a good strategic relationship with Tilburg University. And I seldom miss the Friends of Cobbenhagen meetings.”