Boy van den Berg: head of a faculty for a day
Boy van den Berg has everything under control. Fortunately, his schedule for this Thursday is not completely packed. For an entire day, this 14-year-old lower secondary student gets to be the boss of the Faculty of IT& Design. Boy comments, “When I was picked up by Han this morning, I was feeling a little anxious. But in a good way. But all that nervousness disappeared during our breakfast meeting.” What on earth!? A 14-year-old in the dean’s chair at THUAS? An explanation is in order here.
On Thursday 23 January, Boy was one of many teenagers taking part in the ‘Baas van Morgen’ (‘Tomorrow’s Boss’) programme, a unique annual project organised by JINC. For an entire day, these young people get to be in charge as the director of a school or company – or even the CEO of a listed company.
To JINC, this is serious business. The ‘Baas van Morgen’ programme is based on a deep conviction, namely that there is no better way to bring out the best in young people than by giving them control of an organisation for a day. This is particularly worthwhile if these young people have not grown up in an environment infused with opportunities.
Many companies realise the value and importance of this nationwide project and participate in it. As a result, quite a few company cars pick up the very young directors at their homes in the early morning hours of 23 January. After breakfast, they are brought to ‘their’ company at, for example, the Zuidas in Amsterdam, the Port of Rotterdam or The Hague University of Applied Sciences. This is where Han Biemans, head of the Faculty of IT and Design, has given up his chair to Boy van den Berg for a day.
A quiet day at work…?!
Breakfast with Han Biemans. Information session on the THUAS building. Briefing on challenges within the faculty. Lunch with class representatives. Attending a few presentations by designers. This interview with H News. And we’re only halfway through the day… Another quiet day at work…?!
Boy comments, “I’d like to spend the day experiencing first hand the workings of this faculty, discovering what it’s like to be a director.” Han says, “This list of activities clearly shows that, as a director, you’re continuously dealing with people, listening and communicating. Talking to people: it sounds so simple. Boy now has a good idea about what this really entails. As a director, you need to always ask yourself: am I talking to the right people? Am I picking up on all the signals? Am I asking the right questions?”
A whole lot of decisions
Boy is in his third year of lower secondary education in the mixed track group. No, he has no idea what he wants to do later in life. “But I think it’s very interesting to be here today. This morning, I heard about tests being conducted with computer programs. That’s really cool. I also enjoy doing this at my own school.”
Can he picture himself as a director in the future? “No, I’m not the boss type. I’m more the type who works for a boss. But what I’ve learned is that a director needs to make a whole lot of decisions and often.” Han says, “That’s something I’m not even aware of anymore. If you’ve asked the right questions and listened carefully to the responses, you’re already making decisions. Several hundred times on some days. It’s a continuous process that has become automatic. I’ve been reminded of this today.”
Making people successful
Han says, “Boy has inspired me to self-reflect on several occasions today. That’s what’s so great about this programme; I’ve been forced to think about what exactly I do on a daily basis.” He participates in ‘Baas van Morgen’ with enthusiasm and a positive attitude. “Helping to make people successful gives me a kick. I fully realise that I owe my successful career to others and the outside world, to the opportunities I’ve been given. So, I’d like to give something back in return and this project draws attention to children and young people who do not have all the opportunities I did. Boy comes from a privileged family, but there are lots of kids out there who don’t.”
“Opportunities to do something with your life are not something you create; they’re simply there. But not everyone is aware of them. This may be because they live in an environment that does not encourage bringing out the best in each individual. When I participated in ‘Baas van Morgen’ last year, a young woman took my seat for the day. She was extremely talented and did very well at school. But her goal in life was to be a hairdresser. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but it would be a shame if that dream was because she did not see any other opportunities in her surroundings or situation.”
“We change the rules with ‘Baas van Morgen’. An essential question I always need to ask myself is, ‘What can I do to expand the horizons of that young woman or Boy? That’s why I’m so pleased to work together with Boy today.”
Is the ‘Baas van Morgen’ programme effective? Yes, says Han. “The results are significant. Today alone, hundreds of young people around the country are taken under the wing of an equal number of bosses. They get to experience what it means to be in charge. If you provide such an opportunity year after year, you impact lots of young lives. And all of those seeds planted will take root, having a tremendously positive effect in the long run.”