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Joost Smits

Joost Smits studied Econometrics and Operations Research and graduated in 1994. Since 2013, he has been Director Marketing & Sales at SPG Prints, a worldwide leading company in textile- and graphic printing.

"I have held different positions in a variety of fields and every day I benefit from the tools I gained during my studies in econometrics. Knowledge ages, but a way of thinking does not."

Why did you choose to study at Tilburg University?

"During my last year of high school I was orientating on study programs. Since I was graduating in science courses I wanted to continue with a beta study. Engineering did not appeal to me, but I was interested in economics and aspired a commercial or operational position in business. During the information day at Tilburg University I learned about the econometrics program and this was exactly in line with my interests. Tilburg University is a compact, multidisciplinary university and I was attracted by the atmosphere. The decision for the study and university was quickly made."

Who was your favorite professor and why?

"Professor in technical business administration Ted Kumpe provided an interesting perspective from different disciplines of the issues I wanted to focus on later. Also he gave very interesting classes. Math and statistics were not my strongest courses, but a necessary evil. The way of thinking I gained through these courses though, has proven to be very valuable."

Can you tell us an interesting anecdote from your time as a student?

"Already during the introduction days we were told we had chosen a tough study program that only few of us would finish. Associate Professor Bob Kaper made us focus and predicted that especially students who only graduated in ‘Mathematics A’ would have a hard time. This culture that encourages people to perform was very appealing to me. The personal contact with, for example, Professor Piet Verheijen, with whom you would debate academically during the oral exams at his room while enjoying a cup of coffee, triggered my curiosity enormously."

What has your career been like?

"I had an internship at PTT Post: contributing to mathematically solve company issues. After graduating with Professor Van der Duyn Schouten, I first completed obligatory military service and then returned to PTT as a quantitative consultant. After the division of mail and telecom, first I was manager network planning at TNT International Express and after that I performed different marketing, sales and general management functions at a subsidiary of KPN, Station 12 [world leader in the field of mobile satellite communication for, for example, ships and oil platforms]. In 2005 I became Director Operations at Stork Prints, which is now called SPG Prints, where I have been Director Marketing & Sales since 2013."

What are your further ambitions?

"An interesting next step for me would be a position as CEO or managing director."

What role did Tilburg University play in your life and how did it influence your career?

"I have held different positions in a variety of fields and every day I benefit from the tools I gained during my studies in econometrics. Knowledge ages, but a way of thinking does not. Next to that I developed an interest in different fields during my studies and I was able to enroll in courses at the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences. The ‘soft-skills’ I developed as student assistant, as member of education committees and the faculty council and as organizer of a conference for the Wim Bogers foundation also contributed to my career."

Is Tilburg University still a part of your life, if yes, in what way?

"For a long time I had little contact with the university, besides coaching students and interns. Now there is an opportunity to strengthen the ties. It is great to come back to the university, because even though a lot has changed, it still feels familiar."