Head of support services at Royal Netherlands Navy Fire Department
UCU: Bachelor of Social Science (Economics, Psychology)
After UCU: Erasmus University Rotterdam; MSc (Economics of Markets, Organizations and Policy)

During high school Jojanneke Dirkzwager already developed a strong interest in mathematics and economics. “During my studies at UCU I became fascinated by the combination of Mathematics, Economics and Psychology and I’ve been focusing on this combination throughout my studies and career”. As a result of this interest Jojanneke , once graduated from UCU, decided to do a Masters in ‘Economics of Markets, Organizations and Policy’ at Erasmus University Rotterdam. After finishing her Masters, she was well grounded in theoretics but she felt she still needed to work on her personal development. 

Being admitted to the Ormit Management Development program, she was given the opportunity to develop her people management skills, working in different roles and organizational cultures varying from Consultant Contract Management at Ericsson to Team leader at ANWB.  “Working for Ormit strongly reminded me of my experience at UCU. As a management trainee I received continuous small scale intervision, training, feedback and personal coaching. I learnt a lot about myself and discovered that a combination of managing a team, using my analytical skills and working in a semi- or nonprofit organization was the right thing to do for me”. 

Following her managerial aspirations, Jojanneke successfully applied for the position of operational manager at the Professional Fire Department of the municipality of Hoorn and became responsible for 20 repressive officers. This experience was not without challenges, being a female manager in a ‘man’s world’ in an environment not open to change. “I learnt that I needed to change my approach and way of communicating. I was business oriented and efficiency minded. That creates resistance working with people who are pretty much driven by their passion”. 

Once her mission, creating a self-steering team, had been accomplished,  it was time for her to move on. Currently Jojanneke works as Head of support services at Royal Netherlands Navy Fire Department. Now that she has worked as tactical manager for several years, she aspires to grow to a strategic management position at macro level in the near future.

“I look back on UCU really positively. I learned how to present and debate and I was more than prepared for my masters. I wasn’t afraid of standing in front of a classroom during my job as Student Assistant. I’m not in frequent touch with my fellow alumni these days, absorbed by work and family life – I have two small children. However, I would like to stay connected to UCU. It would be great to have a homecoming day with my fellow alumni of my graduation year. As for giving back I would be very willing to give a guest lecture on leadership and creating self-steering teams”.