As a prospective student, Mira Huussen visited just about every university in the Netherlands. Her wide-ranging interests took her from Eindhoven to Rotterdam and from Psychology to Business Administration. In the end she chose Architecture at TU Delft. In 1996 she graduated as part of the Architecture research group. “In the final phase of my study programme, it turned out that I particularly enjoyed exploring urban problems and developing ideas. For my graduation project in Costa Rica, I developed a new housing concept for low-income groups for the capital San José.”
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During her time as a student in Delft, Mira was strongly involved in the TU Delft community. First at Stylos, the study association for the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment. “In my second year I helped to organise the symposium ‘Zandkastelen’. It made a real impression on me that, as very young students, we were able to attract so many renowned architects and other creative types to the symposium ‘just like that’. The name and fame of TU Delft did the work for us, and they came to literally build sandcastles for us, right in the faculty.”
Later, Mira became Chair of Stylos, where she worked hard to improve the quality of the teaching. A new teaching system had just been introduced and in this period, Stylos was putting pressure on the faculty to improve things quickly. They even got lawyers involved, as good education is a human right after all. Mira: “Even back then I found that I was good in that administrative task and that I enjoyed being involved in university politics alongside my study programme.”
She also did that as a member of the University Council, where she worked with her fellow members of the student group ORAS on the five-year study term for TU Delft degree programmes. They also strove for the development of more student accommodation in Delft. Mira: “I learnt a huge amount from all these activities. It was great to have a voice as a young student, and to be able to really achieve things together. Maybe sometimes we were a little clumsy, but still. I really felt that I was a part of TU Delft back then.”
“Now I am very conscious of the fact that I had a lot of help from all kinds of ‘grown-ups’ within and outside of the TU Delft ecosystem. It was thanks to the help and referrals from so many people that I ended up in the Faculty of Architecture in Costa Rica. During my graduation project there, I was supervised by a local architect and an artist. How amazing is that?”― Mira Huussen
The pull of business life
Once she graduated, Mira initially felt the pull of business life. She started out at KPN in the management development programme. Finding a balance between private and public work proved to be a relevant factor in all her subsequent choices. Following positions at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets, she became Director of New Energy at Essent. In 2015 she started her own company: Bondgenoot. The name – which means ‘ally’ – is a symbol of her relationship to her clients. Mira helps managers and teams from social enterprises to work on strategic issues using their own resources.
Connection with TU Delft
Her connection with TU Delft took on a new lease of life a couple of years ago, when she was asked to become a Good Friend of Delft University Fund. Through an annual financial donation she supports research and projects at TU Delft that would not otherwise be possible. “It is great to give something back to the institution where I was given so many opportunities and where I invested so much of myself. Yet I am more attracted to other, personal forms of adding value to TU Delft than purely financial, precisely because it was the personal contacts that meant so much to me back then. So last year, I became a mentor for Librae, a network set up by female students at TU Delft. The idea is to support female students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) as they define their ambitions in the final phase of their study programme.”
“These things together make me feel very engaged once more with TU Delft and its students. And isn’t it great to be able to play a part in the TU Delft ecosystem, and in this way to help today’s students give shape to their studies and their future?”