Willem Fijten, Aviko BV
Willem Fijten
Innovation Director
Aviko BV

Born in Pasto, an Andes-town in the south of Colombia on May 5, 1976, Willem Fijten has had quite the journey in his professional life. Currently, he's the Innovation Director and Commercial Board member at AVIKO, one of the biggest potato product manufacturers in the world. In this role, he is, together with a team of product developers, product managers and sensory specialists, shaping innovation strategies and overseeing the creation and launch of new products.

Before this, he spent time at NOMAD FOODS EUROPE as the European Senior Development Manager. Leading a team across Europe, Willem worked on an innovative plan that combined technical know-how, business sense, and consumer’s needs. Iglo, Birds Eye and La Cocinera are examples of the portfolio of Brands Willem was responsible for.

Then came his time at MARS FOOD GLOBAL, where he worked as a Product Innovation and R&D Global Culinary Expert. Here, he was in charge of development projects on a global scale, making sure new products were not only developed well but also fit into the overall product lineup. Ben’s Rice & sauces, Dolmio, Seeds of Change amongst other brands were part of his portfolio of responsibilities.

But let's rewind a bit. Willem started in the kitchen, working as an Executive Sous-Chef at the kitchen of The Sofitel The Hague (NL) and later managing the kitchen activities at different restaurants in Europe. This culinary background set the stage for his diverse career. Beyond the work as chef, Willem is an accomplished culinary professional, winning awards like the “Young Chef of the Year in 2003”, the "Zilveren Garde 2004” and the "Grand Prix Culinair 2010".

He graduated from Hotel-School back in 1999 and the School of Culinary arts in 2001. Down the personal development road, Willem’s extra-curricular trainings and interests are very much in the field of Leadership, Innovation and Strategy.