A word with: program manager Koen Suilen

16 June 2022

Say "MindLabs," and you say “projects". Because experimentation, research, development and creation is in our DNA. There are always different projects running within our ecosystem. But as diverse as they may be, they all have one thing in common: we are extremely proud of each and every one of them. By 'we' we mean, among others, our program managers. In the section 'What they say' we always ask one of them for their opinion. In this edition: Koen Suilen, program manager Smart Media at MindLabs.

Koen, let's get cracking: what does your job entail exactly?
As program manager for Smart Media, I am a link between the MindLabs ecosystem and the Fontys University of Applied Sciences. I connect various relationships in the field with our research and education for the Tilburg location. Finally, I also work 2 days a week as a teacher at the Fontys Hogeschool ICT (FHICT). This combination is important to me. Because I also work in practice, I can better perform my function as program manager.

How long have you been doing your job as program manager at MindLabs?
Not very long, since early March 2022. Previously, a journalism teacher filled this position, but a link with the ICT world turned out to be more important than initially thought. Now it is a nice addition to my work for the FHICT. I still work closely with the School of Journalism. They provide expertise on content and share organizational knowledge.

Why is your position within MindLabs so important?
The hbo - and of course also the mbo - is the link between research (university) and practice (field of work). And certainly in the field of ICT, developments are happening very quickly. For an organization like MindLabs, it is important to have up-to-date and relevant knowledge. Our students have that knowledge and are aware of the latest developments. In fact, they are the great added value. Moreover, for our practice-based research it is essential to be in touch with the field.

What makes you suitable for this work?
I have the necessary experience in business and have also held various positions within Fontys. As a result, I know our education very well across the board; from people and organization to robotics, AI and security.

Your job sounds very serious. Is there also room for fun and sociability?
Definitely! For example, I am very much looking forward to the new location of MindLabs. Because we will meet there more often, there is more room to spar together or have a drink. The MindLabs annual event in May was a good general. A great opportunity to exchange ideas with other MindLabs colleagues.

How do you think your colleagues describe you?
As a real booster. I like to keep the momentum going in projects and can be quite persuasive when it comes to pushing people. I am also full of ideas and initiatives, so I think my colleagues describe me as a busybody.

Do you run your personal agenda physically or analogously?
A combination of the two. I have a reMarkable2; a digital notepad. So I make my notes 'old fashioned' with a pen. But I then immediately save those handwritten notes digitally.

We are going to finish. Then you can move on too. What's next on your list? Do you have a full day today?
My daily schedule is a good reflection of the versatility of my job. First I have an appointment with a graduate student whose thesis I am supervising. Then I have lunch with the education manager of the Fontys College of Journalism to discuss our collaboration and determine what programs we can take on together. And then I speak with several program coordinators from Eindhoven about the organization of the first semester of the coming school year. A full day, in other words.