Jan Janse signs off as President of ETIM International: “It has been a great pleasure and honour”

Jan Janse recently resigned as President of the Board of ETIM International. We asked him about his overall experience, his views on the future of ETIM International and his own plans for the future.

Firstly, Jan, how have you been, these past weeks?

Well, I must say it has mostly been unusually quiet on my phone and my e-mail. A little lonely, one might say, even more so than when I retired from my regular job a few years ago. I think it’s a sign of how much I enjoyed working with others to further develop ETIM.

What do you consider as the highlight of your presidency?

There have been quite a few highlights, actually. For me, it is the working together that I will miss the most. Primarily with Marc (Habets, ed) and my fellow board members, but I also really enjoyed the many encounters and discussions with our members on various occasions, including the visits to different countries at a time when that was still possible. When I became President, ETIM had gone through a period of growth. We needed to focus on the professionalisation of our organisation, on further model development as well as financial resourcing to consolidate and expand ETIM. It may not have been the most glamourous times in the life of ETIM, but I am proud of everything we achieved, like the adoption of a clear Mission, Vision and Roadmap and the new website we developed to support our message in terms of marketing communication. I fulfilled my presidency with great enthusiasm and am truly thankful that Sonepar enabled me to do so. You know, as a Board, we rely on these sponsorships from our members: Marc is the only one on the payroll. The fact that we are now able to attract someone to operate alongside Marc exemplifies our achievements over these three years. This will tremendously increase the effectiveness we need now to move forward.  In a way, I would have liked being part of this new age, but at the same time I have every reason to believe that Simon (Barkes, ed) will do a splendid job.

Do you have any advice for your successor in this respect?

Simon has been around the block plenty of times, so I’m sure he doesn’t need my advice (laughs, ed.), although this presidency may differ slightly from what he is used to in governing an organisation. Since there is no possibility to delegate, being on the Board of ETIM International is a hands-on job. He just has to get on the tandem bike with Marc and figure things out as they go.

This year was dominated by the restrictions of Covid-19. Were you able to end on a high note?

The pandemic has resulted in a soft exit for me … It has been a while since we as a board and as members were able to meet face-to-face, but I certainly have ended on a high note. Over the years we have invested in as well as revived various collaborations. I am happy we tightened our partnership with for example FEST and EUEW, for example, but the recent confirmation of our first Global Industry Member definitely took the cake for me. We have been working very hard this year to add to our power with the introduction of this membership. It’s very fulfilling to see that we made it a reality. What’s more, we have at least three others to follow suit shortly!

Hindsight is 20/20 vision… there must have been things you would do differently in retrospect?

I think I underestimated the time and effort that goes into making plans a reality. With an association like this, it’s the collective that has the power and determines which way to go. That requires some lobbying skills from time to time. But all in all, I am pleased with our accomplishments, owing many thanks to my hard-working fellow Board members. After all, these are all people with demanding jobs, multiple roles and a limited amount of time to get things done.

How do you think ETIM relates to its competitors?

Our relationships with parties like eClass and buildingSMART are crucial to our further expansion. In my opinion, we can only truly accelerate if we look at, learn from and work together with other classification model developers as our peers instead of our competition. Of course, we are determined to become the leading standard in the world, but we can’t classify every product out there. Our job is to serve the users of our model best. Joining forces will help us do exactly that. Strength comes in numbers, but also from learning from best practices and different perspectives.

Fortunately, we have Marc – Mr. ETIM, in my book – as a great gatekeeper. His challenge is to safeguard the integrity of the model whilst refraining from any rigidity that would prevent the model from further evolvement. Not an easy task, but with the Board to support and protect him as well as encourage him, all should be fine. After all, ETIM and its peers need each other.

Finally, how will you be spending your days, Jan, without ETIM to worry about?

Haha, thanks, I will enjoy myself. Spending time with my family and on the golf course now and then will keep me sane and fit, no doubt. Of course, I will keep following the developments concerning ETIM closely. It has been a great pleasure and honour to contribute to its success. I wish Simon Barkes a similar experience!