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Science and engineering aren’t boring - boring programs are

Nikolaas Baeckelmans, Vice President EU Affairs, ExxonMobil

Recently appointed as member of JA Europe’s Board of Directors, I am proud to represent ExxonMobil in its quest to foster a diverse workforce of highly talented individuals. ExxonMobil is a global company with more than 70,000 employees, most of them scientists and engineers as the energy sector is extremely high-tech.


ExxonMobil has partnered with JA Europe to promote Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) education across Eurasia for the last seven years through the Sci-Tech Challenge program. The collaboration has allowed us to both raise awareness of the interesting careers one may have as a science major – whilst simultaneously increasing energy literacy. Partnering with JA Europe helped us encourage students aged 15-18 to consider STEM oriented careers and skills, and to advise how these can be applied in enterprising ways in today’s world. More than 50 000 students took part in that program so far.

While I’m not an education expert, partnering with JA Europe and developing the Sci-Tech Challenge together help me convey how crucial STEM skills are in today’s world as they allow our societies to be more innovative, and thus more competitive which is  one of the aspiration of ExxonMobil. In our daily work, we aim to be at the leading edge of competition in every aspect of our business. We will consistently strive to improve efficiency and productivity through learning, sharing, and implementing best practices. 

At ExxonMobil, we believe that the key to the world's energy challenges lies in technology and innovation. With this year’s Sci-Tech challenge for instance, we wanted to tap into the innovative thinking of the next generation on the topic of traffic congestion. I was impressed by the ability of these young people to come up with integrated and inventive solutions to that issue.

In order to spur entrepreneurial and innovative mindset of the generations to come, starting early is vital. By implementing hands on programs in cooperation with experts in the field, JA bridges the gap between the theory and the practice, the perception and the reality. When young people discover science can be fun, they start being more creative and confident. Increasing the numbers of STEM students is crucial but it should also go hand in hand with work readiness and entrepreneurial skills. ExxonMobil’s commitment to develop both is a promise to unleash Europe’s potential and enable innovation to transform the world

Category : Entrepreneurship, Business Volunteering, Entrepreneurship Education Posted : 20 May 2016 11:52 UTC
About the Author
Nikolaas Baeckelmans, Vice President EU Affairs, ExxonMobil

Nikolaas Baeckelmans joined Esso Benelux in 1991 as Corporate Lawyer based in The Netherlands. Subsequently, he took on assignments with increasing responsibilities in the law department, business functions and public & government affairs. He was based in Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Libya and Qatar. In October 2014, he was appointed Vice-President for EU Affairs. 

Mr. Baeckelmans holds a master degree in Law from the Leuven University, Belgium and a master degree in European History & Law from the Strasbourg University, France. 

He is married and has 3 daughters

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