Alumni

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Marcel Niggebrugge

Marcel Niggebrugge graduated in Economics in 1974. After an interesting international career at Shell, he joined the Executive Board at the Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch Railways) in 2000 where he worked as CFO until his retirement in 2011.

"Starting from a broad perspective and gradually focus to make choices, I learned in Tilburg."


Why did you choose to study at Tilburg University?
"The topics addressed during high school appealed to me and the choice for economics was clear from the start. It’s a broad program in which several societal and business elements are studied. The location was limited to four: Amsterdam was too far to the west, Groningen was just too far, Rotterdam only focused on business economics but Tilburg also focused on macro economics, had a good reputation, a small campus and a catholic signature, so the choice was obvious."

Who was your favorite professor and why?
"Dr. Bosman, Professor in Financial Credit and Banking, was a very approachable person and knew how to teach the theory from a practical point of view."

"My study program and student days have taught me a different way of thinking."


Do you have an interesting anecdote from your student days?
"I remember the occupation of the university very well. After the telephone center had been occupied, students had planned to gather in the auditorium to discuss the next steps. But the executive board decided to close down the university, due to the occupation (on which the students still had to make a decision, or so they thought…..) Of course there was no way back now and the occupation was a fact. At least, this is how I saw it."

What has your career been like?

"After having completed my military service, I joined Shell. In those days it was ‘not done’ to work for a multinational, but I thought that was a rather simplistic view. I had a click with Shell, besides I got the opportunity to get foreign experience. Amongst other places, I’ve lived and worked in England, Scotland and Norway. The last years at Shell I was posted as CFO at the NAM (Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij – Dutch Oil Company). At the end of 2000 I switched to the NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen – Dutch Railways), in the position of CFO and member of the Executive Board. Even though Shell and NS seem to be completely different companies, both are capital-intensive businesses and both are subject to societal and political influences. At the NS my experience in the commercial sector came in handy, also because of the planned privatization (which was eventually canceled due to political changes)."


What are your future ambitions?
"I’ll continue to share the expertise I gained during my career in an advisory capacity or as member of a supervisory board. I’m involved as commissioner at several companies, but also look forward to picking up traveling again and spending time with my grandchildren."

What role has Tilburg University/School of Economics and Management played in your life and how did it influence your career?
"My study program and student days have taught me a different way of thinking. In macro economics you start from a broad perspective and gradually focus to make choices and for me personally this has been important as well. And above all not to forget: I met my wife in Tilburg."

Does Tilburg University/School of Economics and Management still play a role in your life, and if so, which?
"I built both my personal as well as my professional network in Tilburg and am still in touch with the Friends of Cobbenhagen [an alumni association]. I often attend lectures, participate in the sound boarding group of the university and can regularly be found on campus."