It is with heavy hearts but fond memories that we bid farewell to Mr. Jan Rombouts, who will be leaving Belgium Campus at the end of this month to take up his retirement in Belgium. Mr. Rombouts, the visionary who founded Belgium Campus, played a pivotal role at the ITversity from its inception in 1999 until present day and we cannot express enough gratitude for the work he has done as founder and executive chairman.
Mr. Rombouts, along with Mrs. Rombouts and Belgium Campus CEO, Mr. Jacobs, established Belgium Campus in 1999. The property, originally Mr. Rombouts private property and family home, was transformed brick by brick into the institution you see today. “Jan literally placed the first brick when we started building the campus,” Mr. Jacobs said with a smile.
Mr. Rombouts and Mr. Jacobs transformed the ITversity from a mere idea into the recognised institution it is today. “Everything that needed to be done was done by them, whether it was plumbing, putting electricity in, building, admin work, teaching, marketing, accounting, they did everything themselves,” explained COO, Natasja Rombouts.
The notion of family and the values that come with it have always been extremely important to Mr. Rombouts and it was around these values that Belgium Campus was built. This notion is still an instrumental part of Belgium Campus culture today and we hope that it will continue to be for years to come. Mr. Rombouts led by example when it came to these values, making sure everyone felt happy and comfortable on campus and that it felt like a home away from home.
Mr. Rombouts wore a number of hats during his time at Belgium Campus. He played a major role marketing the institution, securing collaboration with major national and international industry partners and universities to ensure positive growth of the institution and international opportunities for students. He also founded the Business Club South Africa in Belgium, which further drove these goals by increasing the Belgium Campus network and encouraging industry partners to start businesses in South Africa.
As the institution grew he handed his marketing hat over and began to focus on the campus infrastructure and developing the estate, something which was always a passion of his. These developments extended to the creation of Belgium Campus’ two additional campuses in Kempton Park and Port Elizabeth. “He is a very proactive person, when he sees something that others may define as a problem, he takes action and makes sure that it is solved, sometimes too quickly!” laughed Mrs. Rombouts.
Mr. Rombouts 20 years of experience in prestigious executive positions around the world before coming to South Africa, including being founder of Vidcom and Innes Telecom NV, equipped him with a brilliant understanding of how to start a business and more importantly how to meet customer needs. It is this experience that has ensured that Belgium Campus students are able to enjoy a 100% employment rate post-graduation. He created an environment that promotes knowledge valorisation and innovation, allowing students to comfortably perform at a level appreciated by industry.
Mr. Rombouts will be remembered for his relentless drive to succeed and achieve. “There were a couple of times where Belgium Campus almost ended due to external misfortunes; what I learned from Jan during this time was to turn problems into challenges worth solving,” commented Mr. Jacobs. Mr. Rombouts took this principle one step further by actively seeking out problems because problems require solutions and finding these solutions leads to growth. “He said to me: Enrico, if you don’t build a new classroom you will stand still. I turned back to him and said, but we don’t have the students for it. He said, but if you don’t have the classroom you won’t get the students, once you have an empty classroom you will have to fill it!” Mr. Rombouts quest for growth and success only comes to fruition when he is able to lead those around him to succeed and grow, something he was able to accomplish many times at Belgium Campus.
Mr. Rombouts kindness, unrelenting positive attitude and quest to uplift will be missed by all. He has promised to come back and visit, and the Belgium Campus family will be holding him to this! On behalf of the Belgium Campus family we would like to say thank you Mr. Rombouts for everything you have done, we wish you nothing but success and happiness as you begin this new chapter. This is not goodbye, but see you later!