Jan Karel Mak

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Incoming Chair Supervisory Council

After reading ‘Silent Spring’ and ‘Limits to Growth’ I decided to study environmental sciences at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. Upon graduating in 1983, I started a career in environmental consulting, initially working in areas such as environmental impact assessment, environmental policy studies and corporate environmental strategy. I worked at two major engineering firms, with an intervening period at a prime management consulting firm.

In 1999, I moved to Deerns Group, a specialised technical engineering design and consulting firm focused on building technology, including energy-efficient and carbon neutral building design. Until my retirement from the CEO role at Deerns in 2021, I led its development from a local Dutch firm into a much larger international enterprise with offices in nine countries. I am currently involved as a coach, supervisor and investor at start-up companies in the area of environment-friendly technology.

In parallel to my professional career, I carried out a number of volunteer work activities. I served as chair of the Dutch Association of Environmental Professionals (VVM), the European Network of Environmental Professionals (ENEP, now defunct), the Wageningen University Fund Foundation, and the Royal Dutch Rowing Federation. I was also an advisory council member to several academic environmental training programmes in the Netherlands and Belgium and to the leading Dutch environmental journal ‘Tijdschrift Milieu’.

Currently, I am the European Supervisory Board Chair and a Global Supervisory Board Member of ‘Solidaridad’, a global not-for-profit organisation promoting equitable and sustainable international production and trade chains. I also lead the Supervisory Board of the sustainable energy co-operative in my hometown, ‘HilverZon’. Furthermore, I am an Innovation Credit Advisory Committee Member for the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RvO). I stay in touch with my alma mater as a member of alumni benefactor group ‘Wageningen Ambassadors’, aimed at strengthening Wageningen University’s societal network.


I am married with two daughters and live in Hilversum, the Netherlands.