22/12/2016

VITO attracts an increasing number of researchers from all over the world. This autumn, we exceeded the number of 100 international colleagues working at VITO. To celebrate this momentous occasion, we talked to number 100 herself: Ke Wang.

“Our economy consistently uses up our most precious resources. And we should just accept that? Not me.” Ke Wang is passionate about striving towards a sustainable synergy between environmental and economic interests and she looks forward to meeting you, her new colleagues!  Ke Wan is a Chinese expat who has a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford, an MBA from Erasmus University, and previously worked as a Senior Scientist for the research department of a large industrial player. As of October 1st 2016, she works for VITO as an expert in circular economy business models. Ke Wang lives in Eindhoven together with her family.

A new word for an old concept

Ke: “Circular economy is an ancient principle: almost everything that we consume still holds value and, often, can be re-used quite efficiently. However, today, many resources are squandered thoughtlessly. That’s not a sustainable model if you ask me. My team and I are taking waste back to the beginning.”  Ke further illustrates her philosophy by introducing one of her projects called BAMB (Buildings as Material Banks): “Imagine we’re able to design a building from scratch with strictly re-usable materials. If we can achieve that, there won’t be a need to blow up constructions and lay a huge burden on the environment. Our role, in particular, is to translate the theoretic concept of circular economy into an incentivizing business model. It’s the only way to involve every player in the value-chain.”

We speak 4 different languages at home

Living abroad offers a unique set of challenges. For instance, it can be hard to find common ground and build a solid social base. Or is it?

Ke: “I’ve been an expat for more than 16 years now, so there are few surprises left. The biggest challenge for me? Learning Dutch, because everyone speaks such good English in Belgium and the Netherlands. My age isn’t helping either. (laughs) That doesn’t mean I’m not trying though! All in all, we’re a pretty linguistically diverse family: I speak English with my husband and Chinese with my kids. He speaks Italian with the kids and they learn Dutch in day-care and school.”

“As an international student there were always plenty of opportunities to mingle with peers. So far, I haven’t experienced anything similar in a professional setting. I'm only a few weeks at VITO now, and you have to give such things time. I’m curious about the opportunities to meet the other internationals at VITO.

Societal support here is superb

VITO is attracting more international employees than ever before. New methods, inspiring perspectives and international experience: the advantages are obvious. But what can we do as a professional community to facilitate integration?

Ke: “Sometimes I miss walking in the bustling streets of China and the energetic feeling I get. When I first moved to the Netherlands, the weather really bothered me. Now, I appreciate living here much more. Especially the societal support for young parents who want to work is superb. Yes, the facilities are safe and clean, but, more importantly, there’s such great respect for families! You’re actually able to combine work and family. I will never take that for granted.”

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