"The icing on the cake, yes, that's how you could describe it," says Janet van der Veen of her husband's years on NWO's board. The cake consisted of a fine career in science. A physicist by training, professor of biophysics at a young age to rapidly advance to administrative positions in the academic world. And ending it all, at the age of 68, as president of NWO's Executive Board.
"He's highly intelligent, works very hard, has a clear goal and is therefore extremely effective," says Caroline Visser. Visser is vice president of the Executive Board and started working at NWO at the same time as Gielen four years ago. They took charge together, when the organisation was in full transition.
Ineke Sluiter, president of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), also recognises the president's drive. "Stan knows where the opportunities lie and where he wants to go. He has extensive knowledge of science, extending across its full breadth and depth. He understands sensitivities and has other people's interests at heart. With his patience and tenacity, he then calmly pieces together a solution."