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Harry Hendriks

Harry Hendriks, Global Head of Public and Governmental Affairs at Philips International and former CEO of Philips Electronics Benelux, graduated in Business Economics in 1973. As the first member of his family with an employment contract, he built an international career at Philips and returned to North Brabant 12 years later.

"Connections are often determinants for decisions."

Why did you choose to study at Tilburg University?
"I grew up in a business environment. My father owned a factory producing wooden boxes and pallets and for the last 300 years in my family's history we've been self-employed carpenters. I was the first family member with an employment contract. During my school years at Saint Willibrord in Deurne, a boarding school at the time, it became clear to me that I wanted to study economics and through various contacts, such as Cyril Fijnaut [who later became a professor at the Tilburg Law School] I came in contact with Tilburg University. Connections are often determinants for decisions. Besides, Tilburg had and has a good reputation."

Who was your favorite professor and why?
"Professor van Dijck was a very competent man who taught a boring subject, tax law, but took education serious and knew how to bring the subjects to life. His lectures were always crowded and he almost convinced you to become a tax lawyer."

"Change is a given and innovation is a must."

Do you have an interesting anecdote from your student days?
"During my study I took my first steps as entrepreneur. One day, a friend and I drove to Paris with 10,000 daffodils in the bud because we had heard that there was a good market for them. After being chased away by the police on the Champs Élysées and some other places, we drove back home at the end of the day with 9,900 daffodils. Dutch people buy flowers in the bud to enjoy them longer, but abroad, flowers are considered a jewel and people only want blooming flowers. It was a valuable lesson: you should always study the characteristics of the market."

What has your career been like?

"Upon graduation I was drafted in the military service as an interrogator of war prisoners in the Russian language. The training I received to fulfill this position seemed time well spent. After the draft, I joined Hendrix, a feed company, which I had come in contact with during an internship at Stegemans Vleeswaren. It didn't feel like I was in the right place so I switched to Philips. I filled several commercial positions in for example Brussels and São Paolo and Vienna, and gained experiences I would not have wanted to miss. Since 2009, I was the CEO of Philips Electronics Benelux and in 2012 I became Global Head of Public and Governmental Affairs at Philips International."

What are your future ambitions?
"I would like to contribute to a sustainable world in which innovation plays an important role. After my retirement, I hope to continue to share my experiences by coaching people and being socially active amongst others. I am a member of the board of Brainport, the board of the employer's organization VNO-NCW, the soundboarding group at Tilburg University and the advisory board of the Faculty of Technology Management at Eindhoven University of Technology. The next 10 years the world will change more than it has in the past 30 years, and the Netherlands is like a city-state in this world. As a high quality institute, Tilburg University will also have to adapt to this new dynamic."

What role has Tilburg University/School of Economics and Management played in your life and how did it influence your career?
"Tilburg University gave me the fundamentals of academic knowledge and the network that I built at the university brought me even closer to Tilburg after twenty years of international career."

Does Tilburg University/School of Economics and Management still play a role in your life, and if so, which?

"As a member of the Friends of Cobbenhagen and the soundboarding group I am still involved with the university. And of course I am still in touch with classmates and friends that I made during my student days."