Carel van der Poel has served at Philips, NXP, FEI and TU Delft.

Opinion

Lifetime employment

Leestijd: 3 minuten

After meeting up with some of his colleagues from way back, Philips veteran Carel van der Poel shares some of their collective knowledge.

In my 1982 PhD thesis, I included a theorem that said: “Perm(anent) is only temporary.” During my career, I found out again and again how true this statement is. After working in a research job at Philips Natlab, I joined a group of junior employees that was invited in 1996 to make the tricky career switch toward managerial positions within the conglomerate. Our group of thirteen received the “training course for department heads.” Recently, eight of us met up to see how we’d done in life and what we’d learned. Roughly speaking, there was more than a century of Philips management working years present at our table.

Back in 1996, lifetime employment within the company was still the norm. If you try to explain that to a student today, most would back off in horror. However, history did prove that permanence is temporary: about 80 percent of us left the company early on. Perhaps not surprising, considering that the number of Philips employees has been reduced from 335,000 employees worldwide in 1996 (including 70,000 in the Netherlands) to some 74,000 today (about 10,000 in the Netherlands).

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