‘Digital hippie’ combines worlds to make a difference
Bas van der Pol wants to help build a better – digital – world. Despite his age – Bas is only 22 – he has already completed higher vocational training in electrical engineering and is now combining the last year of his Master’s in Business Information Technology with setting up his own company.
Bas jokingly calls himself a hippie, which has nothing to do with his neat appearance: he has an urge to make the world a better place. He has long been interested in the world of IT, and his ambition to set up his own business led him to do the Master’s in Business Information Technology at the University of Twente. “I chose the UT because this programme offers a really good mix of business studies and information technology. I also read what people had to say about the programme on various online message boards and I looked at university rankings, which ended up being the deciding factors,” Bas explains. “I’m still very happy with the choice I made.”
Although there had been a lot of maths in his HBO course, it had not been advanced enough to embark on this university Master’s degree. Thanks to the so-called ‘pre-Master’s’ and some hard work from Bas, he caught up. “I really liked the transition from the HBO’s more practical approach to the UT’s more academic study style. If I had to make the same choice again, I’d do exactly the same thing: first the more vocational training, and then the academic study,” says Bas. “The HBO course at the Hanzecollege was in Dutch and my Master’s in Twente is in English. The switch from a Dutch to an English study environment hasn’t been a problem; we live in an international world, after all, so we’re all used to the English language. And it gives you insight into cultures you wouldn’t necessarily encounter at the HBO. An international environment like that is fascinating,” Bas adds.
“There are lots of subjects and people at the UT that inspire me – I couldn’t give just a single example. For instance, I thought the course on Service-Oriented Architecture with Web Services by Luís Ferrera Pires was fascinating. It’s all about introducing an architecture that ensures that businesses can really work together well, ensuring that businesses can deliver services to other businesses and that any business can effortlessly link up with these services. This is essential knowledge for everyone in my professional field,” says Bas.
He continues: “This subject teaches you how to collaborate better, and of course that’s a useful skill in the business world. I still find it inspiring, and I regularly consult the lesson material to check things. Organization Theory and Design was another interesting course because it looked at business aspects as well as the technical side of things. It was on this pre-master's course that I acquired the business knowledge that I lacked. And of course, the lectures by invited speakers from the business world – everything from huge corporations to hip little start-ups – were really fascinating. When people like that pass on their knowledge it gives you a clear picture of how things actually work in the business world. Then you have inspiring lectures by teachers like Jos van Hillegersberg. He’s very broad-based and combines academic knowledge with the latest practical insights. I really enjoy that, and for me, he’s a hero in every way.”
Bas graduates next year, but he and two friends are already busy setting up a process automation company called Ciphix. “We let computers handle repetitive tasks, like data entry, in the same way, that robots can do physically repetitive jobs. Our ‘software robots’ make companies more efficient and ready for tomorrow. We live in a world that is pursuing digital progress, and we want to be part of that,” explains Bas. “We’ve already started working with small firms, and some big companies as well. The plan is to make the right impact on society and the business world, and then we hope to break through internationally.”