Hi, I’m Thomas

I thrive when I learn and experience new things. I relish new insights and love inspiring people with them. I enjoy putting new ideas into practice by experimenting, innovating and creating a positive impact with others. My core values are innovation, learning, reflection, humility, justice, reliability, trust, and autonomy.

Over the years, I ran a small web development business from my teenage bedroom that inexplicably not led me to study computer science at university, started and abandoned more hobbies than I can count, both completely transformed and future-proofed a government agency as well as demerged it three years later, spent entirely too much money on all sorts of collectibles I then got bored of, and wrote over 500 articles for self-published websites that I later took offline.

It’s fair to say then that I exhibit a sort of unintended phoenix-like behaviour, continually adjusting and re-inventing myself. As such, I’m at my best when my imagination can run wild and when I can create new things or build systems.


My hobbies and interests

Many things peak my interest or outright fascinate me, but here you can find the ones that do so the most or have been long-time hobbies of mine. Even though my passion for them waxes and wanes, I always find my way back to them.

I love video games. Specifically I enjoy role-playing games, turn-based strategy games, and games steeped in a deep, immersive story. Most of the games I play are singleplayer, but I delight in cooperative games too. My favourites are the Souls series, the Divinity Original Sin series, and the empire-builder Civilization. More…

My passion for video games also translates beautifully to the tabletop. To me, hardly anything beats the dynamic of a group of people huddled around a board game. My favourite games to date are Arkham Horror the Card Game, Brass: Birmingham, and Gloomhaven. I’m also an avid D&D player. More…

Reading

As long as I can remember, reading has been one of my go-to activities. I get a kick out of a well-written book that completely opens my mind to new possibilities or insights. One of my most impactful reads are the Incerto books by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, of which The Black Swan is probably the most well-known. More…

Cycling

A sunny day out on the bike is the perfect adrenaline and endorfine shot to me. I like going fast on the road, but also revel in a technical ride in the forest. My most cherished experiences on two wheels are a ride up Mont Ventoux, and my late-summer night rides on the local trails.

Creative outlets

Even though I was often taunted as a child for having two left hands, I did pick up an interest in more creative activities, such as woodworking, 3D printing, and miniature crafting and painting. And of course, like most male adults, a child-like passion for LEGO remains too. More…

Computer sience

Computers and new technology have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My childhood room was always filled to the brim with PC components, and I usually was and still am one the first people to own brand-new tech. I’m also the go-to guy for most of my friends when their computers or home network crap out.


My key talents

Even though I enjoy a wide variety of activities and love doing new things, I have developed a few major talents and skills over the years. The four domains below are competency areas where I feel at my best and where friends an colleagues have asked me for help or have explicitly valued my take or contribution.

Strategic
development

Visionary leadership, conceptual thinking, future-oriented, critical thinking, and analytical decision-making.

Creativite thinking and innovation

Highly adaptable, change management, developing original ideas, business and organisation modeling.

Overview and coordination

Systematic thinking, prioritizing, long-term planning, decisive, and stimulating cross-functional collaboration.

Communication and management

Coaching, persuading, negotiating, presenting, promoting values, active listening, building consensus, and writing.


My career

Department for Work and Social Economy


2022

Director General Services

Managing the division (140 people) responsible for the budget (4.3bln euros) and financial strategy, HR, ICT, internal and external communication, and business and organisational development. Responsible for the strategic agenda of the department as a member of the board of directors.

2021

Director Dual Learning and Sectors

Managing the division responsible for the apprenticeship policy and dual learning track in secondary and adult education in Flanders, and for negotiating lifelong learning, anti-discrimination and inclusion policies with all industries and economic sectors in Flanders.

Strategy review

For the newly establish business unit I organized a collaborative strategic review, aiming to integrate business activities with existing policy, HR, IT, budget, and legal processes, thus clarifying the value proposition, defining strategic priorities, and developing new business.

Acquisition management

Following the demerger of the Agency for Entrepreneurial Training, I continued the change management in the new business division by onboarding employees, by starting a skills development programme, and by focussing on cultural integration.

Stakeholder management

Because the new business unit saw an increase in stakeholders and more complex partner relationships, I introduced a new methodology to map stakeholder needs and policy requirements. This resulted in a more flexible and effective stakeholder management.

Flemish Agency for Entrepreneurial Training


2016-2020

Director General Services

Accountable for the financial, HR and communication strategies, and for IT, legal and facility support. As a member of the executive board of directors responsible for long-term strategic planning. From 2019 onward, responsible for the liquidation and demerger of the agency.

Demerger of the agency

At the request of the newly formed 2019 government, I was responsible for the operational demerger of the agency. I assured continued operations of all business units, whilst negotiating policy distributions with the three acquiring organisations, coordinating employee change management, and defining asset allocations.

Change management

To define, deploy and implement Flanders’ dual learning policy, I drafted and coordinated the agency’s change management, which led to a new organisational strategy and culture, the creation of a new business unit, and a 42% personnel reallocation, requiring an extensive development and training programme.

Corporate governance

I implemented the corporate governance requirements for public organisations, mainly focussing on transparancy, accountability, and renumeration. I was also responsible for the appointment of new board members (including independent nominees), their onboarding process, and information requests.

COVID crisis management

During the COVID-19 pandemic, I took on the agency’s crisis management and became the point of contact for the SYNTRA non-profits. As such, I helped balance continued public services with employee safety, mainly by expanding remote working, and providing financial support for scaling digital learning platforms.

Executive committee

As a member and secretary of the executive committee, I took on the management and policy coordination of the agency’s governing bodies, including the board of directors, the audit committee, and certain stakeholder partnerships. I was also the liason and point of contact for trade union relations and negotiations.

Open data

I introduced, helped implement, and managed an open data policy based on the 5-star deployment scheme. The effort mapped the data needs of stakeholders, linked data and business processes, and implemented organisation-wide data policies, leading to data partnerships with both stakeholders and research organisations.

2014-2016

Team Lead Financial and Horizontal Policies

Responsible for the day-to-day operations and strategic coordination of the financial and facility teams.

Innovation subsidies

To future-proof and strengthen the entrepreneurial training programme of the SYNTRA non-profits, I redefined the programme’s 55mln. euros subsidy, drafted legislation, and secured the necessary political support.

Core policy review

As a means to refocus organisational strategy, financial resources, and staffing on core policies, I organized and conducted a policy review for all business units, leading to an approximately 9% resource reallocation.

BPM implementation

I helped introduce and implement Business Process Management for the entire organisation, which I used to manage the associated strategic and operational risks for the executive committee and internal audit committee.


My education

University of Leuven (KU Leuven)


Ongoing

Bachelor of Philosophy

2012-2013

Master of European Studies: Transnational and Global Perspectives

2011-2012

Master of Science in Public Management and Policy

2010-2011

Master in Business Communication (English and French)

2007-2010

Bachelor in Linguistics and Literature (Dutch and English)