Five questions for Evelien Alderliesten, Piglets Innovation Manager

Department: Nutrition Innovation Centre

“People effectively thought along with me about the work & private life combination, that was ultimately the deciding factor”

Afbeelding: Evelien Alderliesten met big_3

Evelien Alderliesten didn't discover how much she enjoyed animal nutrition until her graduation in animal sciences in Wageningen. We are now ten years on and her CV already serves as proof of a great career in the agricultural sector. The most recent step:  Piglets Innovation Manager at ForFarmers’ NIC. A job absolutely made for her, that certainly becomes apparent as soon as you start talking to her: “My personal motivation is the reason for pig farming’s existence. Standing still is not an option; you have to continue looking for ways to do things better.” And that’s exactly what her job as an innovation manager is all about.

Why does innovation deserve a special manager?

Afbeelding: Working-at-1

“Some people get nervous at the mere mention of the word innovation; change, it’s something people naturally fear. However, it’s incredibly important to always stay one step ahead for the future of our sector. Although this does require a side note: innovation purely for the sake of coming up with something new won’t work. An innovation has to offer added value. The customer must be able to truly benefit from it, it must ultimately allow him to work more easily, it must result in healthier animals in the stable, or possibly lower net feeding costs.”

How do you tackle this, where do you start?

Afbeelding: Working-at-2

“I combine market demands with scientific knowledge. This will often start behind the computer or on paper, but the concepts which arise from this will ultimately also need to be tested in practice, for example at our test farms or at customer sites. A concept can be used in existing or new products once it has proven itself. I mainly work with projects, together with colleagues and not just for the Dutch market, but all the markets ForFarmers is active in. This certainly makes my job incredibly interesting.”

What did you do before joining ForFarmers?

Afbeelding: Working-at-3

“After completing my studies, I joined Coppens Diervoeding (animal feed) in Helmond as a swine and chickens innovation manager and stayed there for five years, after which I took on the role of piglet milk nutritionist at FrieslandCampina. And I spent the last 2.5 years in the education sector, at the HAS in Venlo. I taught animal nutrition here and also set up the Animal Sciences specialisation. I have also worked on a number of animal husbandry projects with the business community and students.”

Why did you opt for ForFarmers?

Afbeelding: Working-at-4

“ForFarmers actually made the first move; they called me about this vacancy. But the timing didn’t seem quite right at the time, as I was heavily pregnant with my second daughter. However, I did get a very good feeling about the job and ForFarmers as a company, so I decided to start once I had completed my maternity leave. The NIC is currently working on some interesting developments and that was particularly appealing to me. One of the deciding factors was that people readily thought along with me about - flexible - working hours.”

What have you found most noticeable since you started working here?

Afbeelding: Working-at-5

“Despite the fact that everything is really done online, I have been very impressed by the organisation’s open character and my colleagues’ approachability! We’re all working on the ultimate goal together and we all want to help and strengthen each other, that much is certainly evident. I instantly felt at ease and I’m also really enjoying being properly back in the sector again.”