Marian Kat-de Jong
Every week we introduce a different member of the Acceleration Plan to you. This week: Marian Kat-de Jong, connector of the Professional development zone.
What kind of student were you?
Haha! I was a good student. I met the deadlines and I always had everything in order. But I was also always very enthusiastic. I studied biology in Utrecht, and I really enjoyed it. I am eager to learn and I found biology really interesting.
After my first year, I was asked to join the board of the study association for biology. I really enjoyed doing this. And it was exciting because I had to interrupt my studies for a year. Among other things, I was involved in sponsorships. It turned out gaining sponsorships was not my main competence. But that doesn’t matter, I have made good friends and learned a lot about organisations, motivating people, innovation, and events organisation. It has taught me a lot about myself. It has taught me I like to organise and arrange, and that I prefer to work in a team on a common goal. After this year, I had discovered there was more to life than just studying. This resulted in a few more B’s and fewer A’s. But I still finished my studies within the timeframe.
Why do you work in education?
I just never really left! I have always worked on campuses and close to higher education institutions. There is a good vibe around young people who are developing themselves.
Within my biology major, I chose to specialise in Science Education and Communication, which was just like a new master’s program. I noticed that the research work many fellow students were doing didn’t appeal to me. However, it made me very happy to write and tell about my profession. So I deliberately chose science communication. After graduating, I started working as a project leader at the Technology Promotion Foundation at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e). At the time, this was a very small, pioneering, non-profit organisation. I organised all kinds of projects in and around primary and secondary education, first from the TU/e and later also on behalf of other technical universities. Establishing the connection between the different sectors within education was innovative and I really enjoyed doing it (Ha! Even then all that connection!).
After this role, I ended up at IVA Policy Research and Advice at Tilburg University. The academic in me wanted to know whether all those activities I organised were effective. I was involved in policy themes relating to primary education, secondary education, vocational training, higher vocational training, and also scientific education. In the end, I ended up at Avans more than seven years ago, thinking: “I do talk a lot about education, so I should experience it, working in education.” I started as a teacher of biology and communication, and here too I started arranging and organising activities and events again. That is how I finally made the step to project management and programme management in educational innovation. I really work from the idea: Nice how we are doing now, great that things are going well, and how can we do better?
How did you end up with the Acceleration Plan?
Someone who knew about the Acceleration Plan contacted me to ask if I wanted to apply for the connector role. When I read the vacancy I thought: this is me! Since 1 February 2019, I have fulfilled that role for two days a week, seconded from Avans.
I get a lot of energy from the Acceleration Plan. For me, the connector’s role was interesting from the start. I think because it fits with my natural attitude: connecting people and ideas, looking for the best way to realise an idea, and keeping the balance between strategy and execution. After the first meeting with all connectors, I thought: they are all like me! Give any idea a chance and think: why not try? Just a wonderful energy to work with.
I’ve been able to contribute effectively from the start of the Acceleration Plan. We have over 20 institutions working together in our zone. And actually more than 20 people from different backgrounds work together on the same assignment. This creates discussions, but also innovation and acceleration, in a constructive atmosphere. I think it is valuable to be able to contribute to this. I enjoy doing this and I am happy to see how my dual role at Avans and the Acceleration Plan can add value to both places.
1981 born in Zoetermeer
1999-2005 study Biology, specialising in Science Education and Communication at Utrecht University
2012-present working at Avans Hogeschool in Breda [/ quote]