Returning in style Wim Goemaere, VIB’s very first COO

10 February 2018
More than ever, VIB is in full motion: our reorganization into 8 research centers needs logistic follow-up, we’re approaching new agreements with our partner universities, the need for new infrastructure is growing, and the list goes on. To streamline all these tasks and challenges, at the interface of operations and strategy, we needed somebody special. We found the right person for the job in Wim Goemaere, who’s making a comeback after 10 years: “It honestly feels great to return to an organization that is more dynamic and energetic than ever.” Jo Bury: “Wim is a charming man with great social skills. I’m convinced that he will be able to reconfirm and strengthen our partnerships with the universities.”

Our managing director Jo Bury approached Wim last spring. It was clear that we needed an extra pair of hands – and an extra brain – to take the lead on our reorganization while managing a wide array of other projects as well. Jo: “Wim’s clear-cut organizational profile was the first big factor in our choice. Highly skilled and respected, he has great social and persuasive skills, a broad network and the ability to decisively steer an organization in the right direction. Secondly, Wim is familiar with VIB’s ins and outs. Anyone else would need a couple of months to get the hang of our rather particular organizational model. Wim was warmed up after day one!”

Great memories, high expectations
The new function of COO will pool together different tasks and projects previously done by other collaborators at our headquarters. Adding Wim to the team doesn’t just mean a strong new operations manager; it also allows other people to focus more on their core activities.

Wim, which tasks and projects are awaiting you?
Wim: “The recent reorganization, for example, requires a lot of logistical work for our research centers. Different infrastructure projects are planned for Ghent, Leuven and Brussels. Another job is optimizing support functions, from both VIB headquarters and the universities, for our centers. This fits within the agreements we are concluding with our partner universities. I’ll also look into how we can meet the need for infrastructure to support our biotech start-ups. And a third big project is to plan how to tap into new sources of potential revenue, such as charity foundations, for our research.”

Did it take a lot of convincing to ‘sell’ you all these responsibilities?
Wim: “Well, I was already considering working closer to home with the ambition to improve my work-life balance. So, I was definitely intrigued, but I still gave it some serious thought. A clear perk was that VIB had matured and rejuvenated while I was away. I was also attracted by the switch to a full-time operations role, something I was able to get a taste of in the course of my mainly financerelated career. And last but not least, I have great memories. In the end, the decision wasn’t so hard.”

And did we meet your high expectations?
Wim: “In all honesty, it feels great to be back: VIB is more dynamic and energetic than ever. It’s nice to see both new and familiar faces. Even more, it’s exciting to observe continuing traditions as well as things that have changed and evolved for the better. Of course, I have my hands more than full – but, for the record, that’s a good thing!”

Wim Goemaere