Willem builds on his academic experiences at Cambridge, Oxford Universities, Brussels, Leiden and Stockholm Universities as well as from senior posts which he has held over the last years with the UN and in the EU contexts. In Brussels, he directed a think tank supported with a grant from the Budget of the European Communities. His leadership style is inspiring and engaging, enabling colleagues to put forward their best performance and drawing on their knowledge and creativity. His experience as Director of a think tank has taught him how to create a new dynamic by bringing the right players to the table for political dialogue, intellectual exchange, policy formulation and decision making.
His analytical training and inter-personal skills, as well as his experiences working with senior officials of the EU and wide range of national governments in emerging and developing countries, will enable him to make a major contribution to achieving the political engagement on trade, development, and investment negotiations and agreements with major emerging economies, including China, India and South Africa, countries where he has gained first-hand experience working with government and influential policy researchers and national research institutes.
At the UN Secretariat, he coordinated the 2015 MDG Gap Task Force, which includes the International Monetary Fund, the OECD, the World Bank and the WTO, along with more than 30 UN entities. As Coordinator and Editor-in-Chief, he succeeded to reconcile differing and, sometimes, conflicting views.
The 2015 report was launched by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, along with the UNDP Administrator Ms Helen Clark and the Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Mr. Wu Hongbo, just ahead of the 2015 Summit to adopt the SDGs. The final MDG Task Force Report was very well received by governments and media and much appreciated across the UN system.
As Team Leader of the EU Advisory Group (EUAG), a programme requested by the Government of Armenia, he led a multi-disciplinary team of Advisors covering a broad range of issues within the scope of the EU Association Agreement negotiations as well as the negotiations towards a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA). He worked very closely with the Armenian authorities on trade policy coordination, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Agriculture and their agencies, advising the country how to prepare for and enter into DCFTA negotiations and advance the negotiations towards an Association Agreement with the EU.