Tell us more about your background?
I was born as one of a fraternal twins. As from being a child, when my twin-brother went left, I went right. When he went to play soccer, I went for swimming. One went to a bar and the other to a discotheque. One married a lady with black hair and I am married already for 42 years with a blond lady. This all was not on purpose. We found it out afterwards. After being 25 years at the Dutch railways where I started low (due to unfinished high school) I ended in the board (I finished my bachelors and masters during working time) but the main reason for this nice career was that I follow a different path in decision making, thinking but also in life. Via being a CEO of a road-haulier company and a partner (owner) of a Dutch private railway company, I became a professor at Breda university from where I am retired now since last New year.
Why did you decide to establish UNIFY?
Due to the fact that I was travelling a lot, Breda University asked me to recruit students for their University and so I did in many countries in Europe. During this period I found out that I liked it to support future students in their process of thinking what to do after high school. However, the only way to develop this faster and to bring this to a higher level of recruitment was to start for myself. And then I met Milena Krumova (now Gencheva, but at that time still single) who was studying in Breda and we decided to start with Unify.
What is it like working in UNIFY? How is one day at the company for you?
I don’t speak Bulgarian. I have a lot of respect for everybody who can speak this difficult language and even more when you can understand it. Every day I listen to www.radio1.bg but my Bulgarian does not improve at all. But this is one of the reasons that I am not working in the operations of Unify. Besides, I am living in the Netherlands. At Unify I am working on the background. I am always there, but nobody sees me and that is good. Milena is together with all the ladies (and man) responsible for the whole operational process. Yes, I miss that, but often I have contact with one or the other and that is also the reason that I come often to Bulgaria just to feel, smell and taste how it is going and to talk with future students and their parents as well. Since many years Bulgaria is my second home-land. Why? Because I feel home !
What are you most proud of in your work?
First of all: my team of Unify in both Sofia and Varna. Its my family. Furthermore there are moments what makes me proud and feel warm: in September when the new education year started, new students come to me because they recognize me. They are so happy to be in the Netherlands, and that makes me feel proud that we helped them. Another moment: every year I hand over diplomas to the students who passed their graduation and we go through that process from the moment they came until they left and then………..i feel so proud about what we have achieved and for sure the student feels the same. When they start, four years ahead looks ages, but when they look back, four years is nothing. Fourth: proud about the fact that the students and their parents give their trust so we can support them to go abroad, what is a big step for the student but a much bigger step for the parents to see their child going…….
What inspires you?
Young people. Its always nice that I inspire young people but its much nicer that young people inspires me. Why? Young people think differently. Fresh, inspiring, they see no problems, they are faster, they open my eyes for things for what my eyes are closed already for ages, they have less boundaries, they (still) have humor, less rules and from their perspective: they love my slogan in life: don’t ask, do it !