Alumnus testimonial

Alumnus Wouter Smits - MSc Food Quality Management

My studying in Wageningen UR started with a Management, Economics and Consumer Studies bachelor in 2000 and continued with a master in Food Quality Management up to the year 2007. The great thing about Wageningen is its relation with the food industry, the excursions, real life cases and inspiring collegues or professors with an industry background.

Wageningen taught me how to listen to other people.

Study programme

During my studies I worked on the side for DMV International, the industrial division of a big Dutch dairy company called Campina where I discovered how practice differs from theory. At the Leeuwenborch I attended various ethical discussions, also as a participant of Le Buffet Pensant, which included monthly dinners with professors centred around questions on import tariffs, sustainability, GMO, biofuels, the other side of the bio industry, etc.

My positive attitude towards Wageningen UR is also connected to living in the "global village" of Wageningen. A plus is the international encounter between different people sharing diverse beliefs and cultures. My thesis was at the Lays potato chips factory of Pepsi Co International. Supported by Willem Marcelis, my supervisor, I developed a model called the "maturity grid", which related the level of quality assurance to the maturity of the organisation. Subsequently, recommendation ensued from that analysis in order to bring quality assurance to a higher level. Interesting part was to implement it at Duyvis, Quacker, VeurneSnack Foods, other production plants of Pepsi Co.

Job

In relation to all this, as I went to the production line and took part in the process, it helped me to realise what I want and to make a smooth start on the labour market. After I brought my internship in China to an end, I was advised to go back and to apply for a job at DSM Food Specialties in Delft and so I did. There was a vacancy so I started working directly after my graduation as a business analyst for the strategy and marketing department. I am involved across various markets and cooperate with colleagues, customers and key opinion leaders to run projects on product positioning, value based pricing, key account management, competitor analysis, innovation, etcetera.

What has Wageningen given me? Aside from the theoretical knowledge, I developed the ability to communicate with different people no matter their culture, religion, political ideas, etc. As a result, nowadays, I am well-prepared to meet and work with other cultures, so in one word Wageningen taught me how to listen to others!