Humans of IHS is a mini-portrait series that features the people who make IHS a unique place. Many urban professionals with common roots describe it as a welcoming, familiar space. But what stands out the most from their experience are the people part of the institute. This is what drove us to create this mini-series: the wish to give others a glimpse of the amazing people that make IHS special.
Gerjan van Zoest, the Financial Administrator at IHS, has been working here for 23 years before recently announcing his retirement. He is responsible for budgeting, monthly reports and consulting. Gerjan enjoys being involved in multiple tasks rather than specializing in one area, and as he likes to say, "it is not about the title but helping IHS".
From 1998 until now
Back in 1998, when Gerjan started working at IHS, the office was based in the historical round building of the Bouwcentrum in central Rotterdam. At the time, IHS was not only working with Erasmus University Rotterdam but also with Wageningen University, on three different master’s courses. Another element that has been a great part of IHS since the very beginning is the bar - a favourite spot for staff and students.
“Staff were spread across different floors, so we did not have as much interaction with students as now. It is nice to get involved with people from different cultures, not only the students but also the staff”.
Witnessing IHS at its highs and lows
For Gerjan, being involved in multiple projects abroad is one of the biggest highlights during his 23 years at IHS, including in Indonesia, Ghana, and India. "These were remarkable moments for me. One day, I ended up on a boat in India, representing the institute together with the director," says Gerjan when looking back at his favourite memories. Apart from the good times, he has also witnessed IHS during its lows at the beginning of the 2000s. Only 25 people were working at the organisation, but everyone had one goal - to improve IHS.
“There was a period when we were adjusting ourselves to the Erasmus University Rotterdam, and at the same time reconstructing the Master course of Urban Management and Development. However, our managers did very well and guided us through that.”
The future of IHS
"There are many directions the institute could go," says Gerjan when asked where he sees IHS in the next five years. He is sure of one thing, for the future, IHS will continue to develop further its main strengths:
“IHS could continue to further develop as an academic institute, with a triangle of education, research and projects, which is unique and very important.”