The Wind in the Sails with Michiel Heynen

Meet Michiel Heynen. Michiel is a Business Consultant at Rapid Circle and a member of the Strategy & Adoption team. During the day, Michiel ensures smooth implementation of technology for clients, but in his free time, he is a true adventurer. He often sails with friends, enjoys reading about (international) politics, and loves being on the water. Ready to meet our skipper?

Let’s start at the beginning. How did you get into the IT industry?

“I have always been interested in technology. I have two left hands, and with IT, you don’t need to work with your hands but with your brain. Because new possibilities become available in this sector almost every day, I can also channel my creativity into it. You are always looking for more resources. I compare it a bit to a canvas on which you paint. Every day, I encounter new opportunities, or I work with a team that provides them, and with that, my clients and I can create something new.”

What has been the biggest challenge in your career so far?

“I enjoy many things and have the drive to get the most out of them. Sometimes, I encounter challenges. For example, I can demand and expect too much from myself, and that can be difficult at times. It reminds me a bit of my parents’ Jack Russell terrier. Once she bites, she doesn’t let go. Sometimes, I keep going until I can’t anymore. It’s something I try to work on, but it can still be challenging.”

A brief look back at last year’s boat story. What can you say you learned from the experience?

“That nothing is impossible. So, if you have had an idea for a long time and really want it, it will eventually work out. I truly believe in that. It went so well that another idea emerged from it. With the same friend as before, I want to sail from Amsterdam to the Caribbean. If everything goes well, we will cross the Atlantic Ocean in November. That may sound challenging, but when we had the idea to cross the English Channel in a sloop, people thought we were crazy. In that sense, challenging is better.”

What preparations are you making now?

“The crossing to London with our sloop was my dream, but my best friend’s dream – with whom I also crossed the Channel – was to sail across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean with his own ship. He joined me on the previous trip, so now I’m also following him in his dream. He recently bought a ship, and now we are preparing for the entire journey. Such a long trip is a big responsibility, and there is a lot to be done. We want a team of at least four people. We also want skilled sailors with us because you’ll be on the ocean for almost three weeks.

Currently, we have posted vacancies for sailors who want to embark on this adventure with us, preferably with relevant experience. Once we have a complete team, we will train together. We will sail across the North Sea to England at night, continue sailing for several nights, and aim to encounter a storm to see how everyone handles the stress. Once the team is well-coordinated, we will head down to Portugal via Brittany, with Las Palmas as our final stop. From there, we will make the crossing.”

Is the Atlantic Ocean more challenging than the English Channel?

“I think every adventure is different and presents unique challenges. In the Channel, it was mainly crowded, and due to the enormous traffic, we were primarily focused on monitoring other vessels. On the Atlantic Ocean, there are other things to consider, such as meteorology, the mood and health of the crew, and any technical challenges. The Channel crossing was a sprint, while the journey from Amsterdam to the Caribbean can best be compared to a marathon.

To ensure that this trip is also a success, we have sought the support of a coach. We communicate with him several times a week during the preparations. Bert, our coach, assists with the crew selection and serves as a sparring partner for us. This is something we greatly appreciate.”

Did the trip to London help bring out hidden talents that you were not aware of?

“To some extent, yes. During the preparations – and during the trip itself – I listened to my own feelings very closely, more so than I did before. I knew we could do it and that I could trust Koen, with whom I crossed. I don’t know if it’s a talent, but the trust in others and in my own intuition has become very apparent.

Additionally, I have learned that with enough focus on a goal, willpower, and preparation, you can achieve much more than you initially thought. I am naturally curious. This applies not only to hobbies but also to projects with clients. Before we started sailing, for example, I researched everything about things that could go wrong. I kept track of that information and reviewed it continuously so that I knew what I should do in such scenarios. We didn’t need it, but it’s useful to have this knowledge on hand. Knowledge never goes away, so it will surely come in handy again someday. And if it doesn’t, I had a great time researching it.”

It’s not just a way for me to relax, but also a way to get a thrill. Two extremes coming together.

Michiel Heynen, Business Consultant at Rapid Circle

Can you describe the feeling you have when you’re on the water?

“It’s very intense but also very enjoyable. I think this has to do with the fact that you’re already occupied with it long before you actually get on the water, every day. When I finally sit on the water, it feels very liberating. It’s not just a way for me to relax, but also a way to get a thrill. Two extremes coming together.”

Besides sailing, do you have any other hobbies that inspire you?

“Yes, it may sound a bit boring, but I have always found international politics and history interesting. I read a lot about them and have collected extensive lists of podcasts and Twitter accounts. It’s the interest in what is happening and why. I try to understand not only the surface but also the underlying backgrounds. This interest emerged quite early on. I think I was 11 years old when I first secretly watched the TV program ‘Netwerk.'”

Is there any particular advice that has stayed with you?

“Perhaps not advice, but rather a remark. Even as a child, I was extremely curious. I always asked the ‘why’ question because I genuinely wanted to understand things. Of course, parents see this as a phase, so my father often gave the answer: ‘because.’ I couldn’t handle that response very well. As a result, I think I unconsciously started asking the ‘why’ question in my head about everything. I still do it now. Even with sailing, I want to know why things go wrong and why things happen. That’s where that obsession comes from. The ‘why’ phase is still a part of me, and I don’t want to lose it. ‘Because’ is not a reason for me, and it never will be.”

Finally, could you share something that most people probably don’t know about you?

“A friend once convinced me to participate in an Ironman triathlon. He wanted to make a bet because he thought I wouldn’t finish. The wager was a plane ticket to Costa Rica, where the triathlon took place. Fortunately, I won the bet, but I can’t deny that it was very tough.”

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Wilco Turnhout

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