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Margriet van Zijl

Margriet van Zijl studied Business Economics, specialized in Marketing and graduated in 1990. After a variety in positions she is now Director Marketing & Innovation at Auping. “The common thread in my career has been to successfully innovate and bring company processes together.”

Why did you choose to study at Tilburg University?

“First I chose to study business management at TU/e [Eindhoven University of Technology]. The program appealed to me but student life in Eindhoven did not. There was not a lot to do and the students you’d meet all seemed the same.

It should also be fun to study and undertake activities.

Tilburg University had a good reputation, Rotterdam maybe even more so, but the difference was minimal. For your personal development the extra-curricular activities you participate in are also important and I never regretted going to Tilburg.”

Who was your favorite professor and why?

“The lecturer for bookkeeping, Mr. Konings always drew a full house, students enjoyed attending his classes. Also assistant professor Versteijne was a great teacher who combined theory and practice.”

Can you share an anecdote from your student days?

“Students sometimes organize ‘beer relays’ and much to the amusement of all our sorority Hebe beat the men at study association Olof! That certainly made an impression. I was also active in tennis association Lacoste and we often organized exchanges with students in Poland, France and the UK.  It was very special to organize the first international student tennis tournament in Tilburg with ten countries participating.”

What has your career been like?

“I was looking for a company that could offer good practical training and started at Nutricia. After a few years I switched to Leaf, which was less political and allowed me to further develop my marketing skills. In the confectionary industry innovation was not a priority so when I got the opportunity to work with an American company (Iams) I grabbed it with both hands. The lines were short, the pace was fast and the company invested in people and tools. In this dynamic and international environment I learned innovation is crucial for differentiation. After guiding the acquisition of Iams by Procter & Gamble I worked at P&G Switzerland before focusing on innovation as Interim Manager at Bridge Consulting Group, Director at Dorel (Maxi-Cosi, Quinny) and now as Director Marketing & Innovation at Auping.

The common thread in my career has been to successfully innovate and bring company processes together.”

What are your future ambitions?

“Put the Dutch manufacturing industry back on the map through innovation. There are many good initiatives, the challenge is to further develop these, make them relevant and successfully market it. I would also like to provide guest lectures on the cutting edge of marketing and innovation and become a Supervisory Board member.”

What role has Tilburg University played in your life and how has it influenced your career?

“Your student days are a defining period in your life, you learn to think, to reason, to work together and to deal with freedom. The knowledge and experience you gain, both in the classroom and beyond, enrich your life.”

Does Tilburg University still play a role in your life?

“Especially through my membership of alumni association Friends of Cobbenhagen I stay in touch with the university. From time to time I also support graduating students who write their thesis at my company.”