Stories#059 A pinch of Leontien

#059 A pinch of Leontien

The story of Petra’s (micro-)credential shopping is a story of Leontien’s campus love

Leontien Kalverda is programme manager Shaping2030. In a few words she can be described as a doer, a booster and a connector. Whenever she sees an opportunity to cash in on her decisiveness, she will grab it. And she sees enough of those at UT, year after year. With a total of 36 study and working years at UT, professor of Organisational Science Petra de Weerd-Nederhof understands this like no other. ‘What makes this such a nice place, Leontien?’

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Monday 20 December 2021

Put on your bathing suit and take the plunge

Petra: ‘Leontien, your leg is in plaster. What happened?’

Leontien: ‘I tore my Achilles tendon during a handball match. My first injury in 35 years.’

Petra: ‘Ouch, what a shame. Hopefully you’ll be back on your feet soon. Let me quickly switch to a nicer subject. I discovered a similarity between us: we both came to UT for our studies, met our partners here and have never left.’

Leontien: ‘As a student, I quickly felt completely at home at UT. I joined the student handball association, became secretary of the club two weeks later and chairman the following year. I met my partner, who also studied at UT, at a league game; he played a match that I refereed and afterwards we started talking in the Vestingbar. He now works at Saxion University of Applied Sciences, which also creates a nice connection, because of the increasingly close collaboration between UT and Saxion. So we can pick each other’s brains about work related things. During my pregnancies I did aqua jogging in the campus pool and we often come to campus when we walk the dog. I enjoy the fact that different aspects of my life are this intertwined; I just think the campus is a very nice place.’

Petra: ‘To me, it is also much more than just the place where I work. It’s a community and a place to meet people. Do you think this contributes to the pursuit of an inclusive organisation?’

Leontien: ‘What I like is that we can choose to spend much time on campus, but we don’t have to. There are plenty of people who prefer to keep their work and private life separate. That open attitude is important, especially when you’re talking about inclusivity. This is how I see it: everyone has something different to add. Let’s open up to that and see how we can combine this enormous variety of forces.’

Petra: ‘A good starting point for the Shaping2030 programme manager. Actually, how did you end up in this position?’

Leontien: ‘In a few steps. After I graduated, I first worked a couple of years as a communications officer for various departments of UT. I was also involved in a few large projects, such as the Dies Natalis celebration and the opening of the academic year. This way I got to know the organisation well. At a certain moment I felt that I could add more value in another position, so I took the plunge. I called Kees Eijkel, who then was the director of Strategic Business Development, and told him: “I think I can be of great use to you.”’

Petra: ‘Such decisiveness! And what did he say? “Bring it on!”?’

Leontien: ‘Yes, I told him that I saw many opportunities in SBD’s plans to intensify cooperation between UT, industry and the government. And that I feared that SBD had too little manpower to do so. I suggested that I could add value there. Three weeks later I started.’

Petra: ‘A smart move and a great opportunity. What have you done in that role?’

Leontien: ‘We looked at themes and collaborations that we could stimulate further. A prime example is the research campus for innovative energy technology at Twente Air Base. Kees Koolen, UT alumnus and former director of, saw enormous potential in this and knocked on UT’s door: “Would you like to think along about the possibilities?” It was a gigantic, great challenge that set a lot of things in motion – between scientists, municipalities in the region, the province, the industry,.... Ultimately, the project did not see the light, but it really brought us a lot. Like the realisation that we need to bundle our strengths in the field of sustainable energy. This is how the Centre for Energy Innovation got started, for which I was programme manager in recent years.’

Petra: ‘I see the sparkle in your eyes. Why do you like this so much?’

Leontien: ‘I like to build something up, together with very talented people. To initiate movement that helps us improve. I want to make developments not only visible, but also tangible. That gives me energy.’

Petra: ‘So why did you transfer to Shaping2030? Was it another case of you thinking: they could use a pinch of Leontien there?’

Leontien: ‘Haha, yes, that’s exactly what I thought. Of course, I was aware of the Shaping2030 vision and intentions, but I wasn’t quite sure what Shaping2030 had to offer me as an employee. I figured that there would probably be more people who felt like I did. So we have work to do –work that I like to do. I can see now, being in the middle of it, that Shaping2030 has already brought me a lot.’

Petra: ‘Like what?’

Leontien: ‘I have only been able to seize opportunities to grow, because I was given them. The SBD director gave me a lot of confidence and space, even though I have no background in business development. And when I look at all the courses and trainings that I have already been able to follow at UT… They are valuable for my personal development and therefore also for the organisation. I hope that everyone makes good use of all that UT has to offer and the many possibilities. In my view, growth doesn’t necessarily mean gaining more in-depth knowledge, you can also broaden your view. Take a look around, at another service or faculty. What do you find interesting? What arouses your curiosity? What challenge do you see? Go for it!’

Petra: ‘What is your mission for the coming years?’

Leontien: ‘Making the goals that we have formulated for Shaping2030 more concrete. Where do we want to be in 2023? To go there, what should get top priority? And what more do we then need on the road to 2030? The ‘paper’ goals must become a going concern, like the Diversity & Inclusion Office has become. It originated from the Shaping2030 strategy, got fed by employees from all ranks and has become a concrete part of UT. That doesn’t mean that we can now tick this goal’s box, but development is well underway.

I block a lot of time in my agenda to talk to people. To ask them: what do you come across, what do you run into, what moves you, what do you need? This is important input to me, for Shaping2030. So if people feel like I’m forgetting something, I hope they will call me. Keeping in touch with each other, to me that’s key.’

Petra: ‘You’re right. That’s what I love about these interviews. Every time I read one, I think: gosh, yes, that’s also one of my colleagues. Such a nice person, and what an interesting job. I feel like I got to know all these people. Each with their own added value, as you say.’

Leontien: ‘It’s nice that we can add our story too!’


studied Industrial Engineering and Management and after that did her PhD at UT on the topic of New Product Development Systems. She was programme director Business Administration, and set up Twente Graduate School. Meanwhile she became professor of Organising Innovation and chaired UT’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship research group. After suffering a personal loss, she refocused her research on the relationship between resilience and innovation. In addition, she is a member of the University Council.

Leontien Kalverda MSc (1981)

studied Applied Communication Sciences at UT. After obtaining her bachelor's and master's degrees, she also started working at UT as a communications officer. After a few years, she made the transition to Strategic Business Development, where she took on the role of programme manager of the Centre for Energy Innovation, among other things. She has been programme manager for Shaping2030 since June 2021.