Minutes of the 2019 General Assembly

The 2019 HUTAC General Assembly

Meeting Minutes

What is the HUTAC General Assembly and why does it matter?

Before you delve into the minutes of the 2019 HUTAC General Assembly meeting, we would like to briefly explain what the GA is and why it is important to you as a member of the HUTAC community.

The GA is an annual gathering of the HUTAC community which allows members to:

  • Find out about the activities of the community and achievements of the Board during the previous year, including, most crucially in current times, the decisions made that impact the future of our organisation,
  • Review the fiscal balance sheet of HUTAC and its financial health, and vote on whether you approve the financial statement of the previous year as presented by the treasurer,
  • Share your opinion about the leadership of the organisation and vote prospective leaders into office,
  • Ask questions, tackle issues and offer feedback – your input is always welcome and appreciated,
  • Reconnect with your fellow HUTACers.

Although the 2019 GA is over, we hope that this document serves to sufficiently inform you about the content of the meeting and look forward to seeing you in future HUTAC gatherings!

In case you have any questions, feel free to contact us at contact@hutac.com.

Please stay safe during the current coronavirus crisis, heed the advice of the authorities wherever you live and we will see you soon when it is all over!

Your 2018-2019 HUTAC Board


Minutes of the 2019 HUTAC General Assembly

Date: Saturday 1 February 2020

Location: Time Space, Vredenburg 40, 3511 BD Utrecht

Time: 14:00 – 16:00 CET

Participants: 8, all Huygens Scholarship recipients


1. Present Board Members

Catalina Iorga, president of the 2018-2019 Board, and Laura Tufis, HUTAC secretary and marketing director, were in attendance representing the leadership team. The president took responsibility for chairing the meeting.

2. Overview of Topics Discussed

The content of discussions, originally based on the meeting agenda shared with all members through the GA 2019 invitation email on 15 January 2020, can be boiled down to the following six topics:

  • Overview of 2018-2019 activities, administration and finances,
  • Current challenges facing HUTAC,
  • Possible solutions and plans for the future of HUTAC,
  • Discharge of the 2018-2019 Board and approval of the 2018-2019 Financial Statement,
  • Approval of the 2019-2020 Audit Committee,
  • Next steps.

To ensure a concise and understandable flow, discussions are summarised to the essence of their conclusions and the order of topics is slightly altered from the previously published meeting agenda.

3. Overview of 2018-2019 activities, administration and finances

The official 2018-2019 year did not include any events that our members have come to enjoy every couple of months since the founding of our association. This was due to the fact that the Board’s energy was fully devoted to administrative steps related to the preparation of the official proposal to change the statutes and bylaws of the association, aiming to ensure the sustainability of both our membership and finances in the years to come.

The Board worked with a licensed notary to assemble this proposal. They engaged in regular communication with the member base via email as well as a special General Assembly meeting held in Utrecht on 9 March 2019. These proposed changes were put to a non-binding vote during this special GA after having been first introduced during the 2018 General Assembly, held on 19 January 2019.

Opinions were received and processed by electronic means from members living all around the world. These included, in particular, a petition signed by a large group of senior members and former Board members who proposed an amendment involving a name change for the organisation if the Board’s proposed updates to the HUTAC Statuten were to be adopted. In order to ensure unity within our member base, on 9 August 2019, the Board responded to this request by publishing an online poll asking all members to voice their opinion on what the association is to be called – if that is in fact the way agreed to by a majority going forward. While this poll was well received by the community, with many participants voting, the results were deemed inconclusive in the end with roughly 50% of voters favouring The Talent Circle and 49% favouring Young Talent Circle.

As a result of this split, the final decision on the future of HUTAC had to be postponed again to this year’s General Assembly in order to give the Board yet another opportunity to listen to members’ suggestions and benefit from as many intellectual contributions from present members as possible. Following this feedback session, the Board hopes to be more effective in charting the way forward.

It was clarified during the GA that despite the current period of perceived inactivity, HUTAC events will be restarted and are sure to demonstrate their previously successful nature once again as soon as the future course of the association is decided upon and approved by members. The evidence for that, among others, is the success of HUTAC Conference 2018, the last large-scale event organised by HUTAC.

Present Board members mentioned that prospective speakers are and have always been willing to charge small amounts or contribute at no cost to our events after getting to know our proud history. There is great variety in the content we provide and the complete freedom in choosing topics for events by the leadership team can be regarded as a unique selling point for future members, members of the public visiting our events as well as potential partner organisations.

Financially, HUTAC continues its slow glide towards a total financial balance of zero. Surprisingly, however, as a number of present members pointed out during the GA, the association is only now approaching the end of the subsidy balance provided to us by the government from 2008 until 2015. In addition to the remaining subsidies of almost 2.300 EUR by the end of August 2019, HUTAC has also accumulated approximately 18.800 EUR during its many years of existence. Therefore, we have sufficient capital to easily sustain the needs of our community for at least another two years.

The details of HUTAC’s 2018-2019 financial statement, pertaining to the fiscal year starting on 1 September 2018 and ending on 31 August 2019, were presented as follows:

More detailed information on the expenditures made as part of the General Budget, including specifics on Board meetings held during this period, are shown in figures below:

Finally, the HUTAC Balance Sheet, detailing the year-by-year accounting information of the association’s equities and liabilities, is shown below:

It was approved by the General Assembly in 2018 that this year’s Balance Sheet along with detailed costs and revenues were to be reviewed and properly scrutinised by an external accounting service in place of the more common internal Audit Committee made up of HUTAC members. This decision was made due to two reasons: (1) the Board has been unable to find a replacement for the outgoing Audit Committee member at the end of last year, and more importantly, (2) the need for a more official and independent audit of our finances in preparation for the depletion of government subsidies and associated statutory reporting requirements that is to follow.

The individuals directly involved with this review were Peter Fechter, partner at RS Finance, and Jasper Jansen, Belastingadviseur, with their affiliations displayed below:

Both their opinions can be summarised as the fact that “the financial statements including balance sheet and profit and loss account for the financial year 01/09/2018-31/08/2019 give a true and fair view of the financial position of the association.”

4. Current challenges facing HUTAC

As mentioned previously, with government subsidy reserves almost depleted, HUTAC is gradually approaching the point at which we will have no choice but to cease activities. More importantly, with the Huygens Scholarship terminated in 2012, HUTAC does not have a steady influx of members any longer. The latter is a more pressing issue in the short term.

A side effect of this has been a consistent shortage of volunteers willing to take up leadership roles and help move the organisation forward. Without volunteers aiming to become Board members, help run the administration, and plan future events, the organisation cannot continue.

HUTAC has always been less successful at attracting Dutch recipients of the Huygens Scholarship simply because the biggest selling point of our association has been its social aspect; HUTAC is better at appealing to international members who have travelled far from home, allowing them to join a strong community and develop their skills and relationships in the Netherlands. And since most international HUTAC members have either moved abroad after completing their studies or already integrated in the Dutch society, there is little appetite left among them to continue their involvement with the HUTAC community when they have more important things to focus on such as their own careers, friends, spouses and families.

Since the demographics of our member base who still reside in the Netherlands have evolved, HUTAC must also adjust the content of the events it organises. The focus needs to shift from topics such as career opportunities and professional skills development to events helping to widen the participants’ view, focusing on macro societal issues, new technological concepts, continued learning, financial planning and so on.

The lack of income for the organisation is another important fact worth contemplating over. Since its inception, HUTAC was not designed to be financially sustainable. As we get close to having spent all of our reserves, we are obliged to consider the following paths forward:

  • Attempt to find a new funding source; sustain the organisation with minimal expenditure until we have a breakthrough,
  • Spend the remaining liquidity in the best possible way and dissolve the association.

5. Possible solutions and plans for the future of HUTAC

To address the shortage of Board membership volunteers, there are two solutions that can be of benefit:

  • Open up Board membership for members who have not received the Huygens Scholarship, as originally proposed by the current Board; this will allow all members, especially those who are motivated and hard-working, to apply for Board positions and be scrutinised by the General Assembly before being voted on,
  • Create a paid position within the Board exclusively for the organisation of events; this approach creates an extra incentive for the volunteering individual and gives the General Assembly more say in how the performance of this naturally busiest member of the team will be judged; other (unpaid) positions with minimal workload will be reserved for the president, secretary, and treasurer.

In order to attract new members from among the public:

  • Open up the association even further to interested individuals and prospective members who have not received the Huygens Scholarship. In recent years, HUTAC has in fact taken in new members who were interested in joining our events; but the outreach to these individuals has been largely passive. If we are to go down this route and begin to actively appeal to young professionals in the wider society to join us, the question arises again whether the name HUTAC, the Huygens Talent Circle, continues to be a suitable name for this organisation. In addition, new membership criteria would have to be established and robust marketing measures put in place to reach out to our desired target groups,
  • Create partnerships, preferably through binding agreements rather than verbal statements of intent, with other internationally oriented organisations such as, to name only a couple, the Holland Alumni Network and Social Impact Factory.

To extend the financial life of HUTAC beyond 2022:

  • Secure a considerable and sustainable external source of funding, which may lead to an inevitable change in how our organisation is registered with the Chamber of Commerce,
  • Generate income internally by, for instance, charging members annual membership fees or increasing event participation fees; this option is likely the least sustainable given the challenges described earlier,
  • Downscale expenses drastically by organising many small and low-cost events, effectively allowing HUTAC to benefit its members for as long as possible before funds run out,
  • Organise events at the same pace as before or even opt for a small number of large and expensive events until all remaining funds are spent.

To answer all these questions, the first step would be to specify the general direction in which we all prefer the organisation to go. Once that is decided by our members, the decision on our future financial means will narrow down to a more simple dilemma. As a result of these considerations, the members present at the GA agreed that the following decision chart will help take the first step toward a consensus:


Board Members May Also Be Non-Scholarship Recipients

Board Members Must Always Be Scholarship Recipients

Choose a New Name for the Association

Option 1A

Option 2A

Retain Current Name of the Association

Option 1B

Option 2B

Comments provided by members present at the GA on the pros and cons of each of these options is summarised below:

1A. Association with New Name Allowing All Members to Apply for Leadership Roles

Pros: Makes it easier to find volunteers for leadership. Encourages more non-Scholarship recipient members and new prospective members to join HUTAC events. The newly inaugurated name would reflect a new identity and mission statement for the organisation and hopefully spark new interest among present members.

Cons: There is currently no clear selection criteria that would ensure continued excellence among our members. The new name would likely require the purchase of a new web domain; a desirable domain name may or may not be available for purchase.

1B. Association Called “HUTAC” Allowing All Members to Apply for Leadership Roles

Pros: Similar to 1A in terms of a broader pool of Board member volunteers and the resulting positive effects on community growth among non-Scholarship recipient members.

Cons: There is concern among some members that expanding Board membership to those who did not receive the Huygens Scholarship may affect the identity of our association. Some members also believe that the name HUTAC, the Huygens Talent Circle, may lead to an implicit contradiction between the mission statement of the organisation, an association of scholarship recipients, and the new definition of membership. The opinions are split on this issue among those present at the GA and, by extension, the wider community.

2A. Association with New Name Allowing Only Scholarship Recipient Members to Apply for Leadership Roles

Pros: Changing the name may serve to signal a new start for the community and spark renewed interest among current members. In addition, given the fact that many non-Scholarship recipients are already registered in our member’s database, dropping our traditional emphasis on the Huygens Scholarship would serve as a signal of inclusivity to those members.

Cons: Does not provide immediate prospects for solving the shortage of volunteers for leadership. The technical challenges involved with a migration to a new web domain remain as potential problems, as mentioned under 1A.

2B. Association Called “HUTAC” Allowing Only Scholarship Recipient Members to Apply for Leadership Roles

This option effectively leads to the continuation of the status quo, which, in due course, is likely to lead to the dissolution of the organisation.

Pros: The organisational identity of HUTAC and accumulated goodwill remains intact. Emphasis will no longer be placed on a need for financial sustainability and/or finding ways to expand the member base. The remaining funds will be spent in the best possible way for existing members.

Cons: Clear decisions will have to be made regarding the allocation of resources for events and, more importantly, the reassignment of administrative responsibilities given the fact that the current Board may no longer wish to remain in charge. Besides resource management, volunteers, or paid professionals in charge of spending the funds must also be sought and voted into office. Finally, on an emotional level for most if not all of us, it would be a pity to see the organisation which has given us such great opportunities to learn, develop and build relationships with so many great people, come to an end.

6. Discharge of the 2018-2019 Board and approval of the 2018-2019 Financial Statement

After Catalina Iorga presented the financial overview on behalf of Kollol Aguan, HUTAC treasurer, who could not be present at the GA, members voted to approve the information provided under the condition that the cost of 179.96 EUR billed under “banners, Facebook advertising” is clarified by the Board in this publication.

The Board confirms that this amount is related to the costs incurred due to a sales course taken by Laura Tufis, HUTAC secretary and marketing strategist. This fact was mentioned by Board members present at the GA and other members agreed that such an expense is warranted as it may be used for marketing purposes.

The General Assembly agreed that the current Board has handled finances honestly and accurately and worked to the best of their abilities toward the advancement of HUTAC’s interests.

The Board was officially discharged from their 2018-2019 duties but remain in charge as no other candidates were available to take over responsibilities for 2019-2020. These Board members remain officially registered at the Chamber of Commerce until the next GA.

The current term of Advisory Board members, former HUTAC presidents Thierry Verheije and Andy Golkhandan, has also officially ended but they remain in office to support the Board during the transition period until the next GA.

7. Approval of the 2019-2020 Audit Committee

In order to save costs in the upcoming year and provide additional support to the Board, two members present at the General Assembly, themselves former Board members, Dimitar Kralev and Knut Grahlmann, declared their candidacy to join the HUTAC Audit Committee.

The GA voted to approve both Dimitar and Knut to be members of the 2019-2020 Audit Committee.

8. Next Steps & Closing

In order to resolve the outstanding issues and move forward, the GA collectively came up with a list of action items to be executed in 2020 by the Board:

  • An online poll is to be published during the weeks following the GA which allows the entire member base to indicate their preference with respect to the decision chart mentioned in Section 5 above; a period of at least two weeks is to be allotted for the voting period,
  • A special General Assembly meeting is to be planned to vote on specific changes in the statute required to properly reflect the choice made by a majority of members in the online poll,
  • In addition to the fundamental changes above, other adjustments to the rules proposed by the Board will have to be voted on as well; these changes are aimed at streamlining the operations of the association such as allowing members to participate and vote remotely in the General Assembly meetings. The Board will be responsible for seeking professional assistance in writing the legal text required to adjust the necessary details in the HUTAC Statuten,
  • Two additional members present at the meeting, Arsham Farzinnia and Marzieh Ghanimifard expressed interest in joining the Board for the remainder of 2020; Arsham specifically expressed interest in the position of treasurer. These members will be voted on as members of the Board during the yet-to-be-announced special GA.

The Board is expected to make the necessary announcements related to these action items in the near future.

With no other outstanding matters left to discuss, the meeting was brought to a close by the chair.