In #5questionsto we ask questions to admirable persons in the seed industry. This time, we’ve asked 5 questions to Jaap Mazereeuw. He is the CEO of the family-owned business Enza Zaden.
Enza Zaden is a large family-owned business situated in Enkhuizen and one of the Seed Valley founding fathers. They have a large portfolio of vegetables as well as many subsidiaries all over the world. Enza Zaden is still an independent family business and Jaap is the third-generation within the company. His grandfather Jacob founded Enza Zaden in 1938. To what extent do they still discuss the family business at home? What does the average workday of Jaap look like? Read the interview below.
Which specific goals do you want to achieve in your career?
A specific personal goal for me is continuing Enza Zaden as an independent family business. That is very important to us as a family. Additionally, Enza also has ambitions. We want to give all farmers worldwide access to healthy vegetable varieties. And for employees, we want to be a good employer, so that they can develop their talents in a safe and stimulating environment.
What does your average working day look like?
An average working day for me does not exist. Every day is different. But if I had to classify it roughly, then I have working days in the Netherlands. These often consist of meetings with a very diverse group of people on very diverse topics that we decide on. There is never a dull day. Every day is new, with surprises and challenges. Another part of my work is abroad. Two-thirds of our activities take place abroad, so I travel a lot and see a lot of the world. It is a very varied job and I speak with many different people from many different cultures.
If money does not matter: which seed would you like to develop?
That is a very nice question. If money were no object and everything was possible, I would like to develop a vegetable variety that would be resistant to various diseases and pests. Pesticides would no longer be needed. At the same time, that variety should also be healthy, so that whole tribes on earth would become a lot healthier.
What is your tip for students who aspire to become CEO?
My tip would be to not specifically aim for the position but to look at the contents of your job. I think you should choose something that you really like, that gives you energy. Usually, most of us start as a specialist. At some point, you find out whether you are and remain a specialist or whether you are a generalist. In that case, you are a good fit for management positions. This allows you to become CEO at some point.
Enza Zaden is a family business. To what extent are you talking about the company at home?
Well, we regularly talk about Enza with the family. They like to be kept informed of what is happening. But the decisions are not made at home. These are taken by the board of Enza Zaden. We do have family meetings at home, official meetings because they are also shareholders. So certain decisions are made there.
Want to read more #5QuestionsTo? See our previous interviews here.