I’m an engineer for technical safety in oil, gas and process installations. I studied Chemical Engineering in Delft Technical University in The Netherlands. In 1983 I joined Shell in a Research and Development function and many engineering roles have passed since: Equipment Engineering for physical separations, Production Technology Support, Dynamic Modelling, Reactive Hazards, Noise Control, Flare & Relief systems.
Aged 52 I was diagnosed with Asperger’s and that helped me -finally- understand my earlier struggles with the glass ceiling between my specialist roles and this thing called ‘leading’. But more importantly I was struck by the negative consequences of the stigma surrounding mental conditions. The Shell enABLE network for employees with disabilities enabled me to talk to colleagues about autism, my autism and how as a company we can benefit by being able to deal with autism as something normal. More than 1300 colleagues worldwide came to listen, discuss and learn.
This was the start of a chain reaction: I have shortly chaired the enABLE NL network. I became member of the governmental taskforce Vanuit Autisme Bekeken (Viewed from Autism) for a 4 year project. There I started the Autism Embassy, a project that trained 25 autistic employees in other large organisations (both public and private) to make autism ‘normal’ in other organisations too. Currently I’m chairman of PAS Nederland, the Dutch society for adult autistics. I co-founded and organise Autminds, a yearly conference organised by and for autistics and lastly I’m steering committee member of the governmental research project Diversiteit en Autisme (Diversity and Autism) determining the autism knowledge gaps especially when going beyond the medical model.
My paid hours are focussed on saving lives, my unpaid hours on improving the quality of those lives.