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There has been a variety of azalea called ‘Michelle’ for 22 years now. That’s no coincidence. Michelle Rannacher’s father owns a pot plant company in Bielefeld, Germany, and named the plant after his daughter. And the azalea variety ‘Franziska’? Well that’s her sister, of course.

One thing is certain, Michelle is now in ‘full bloom’ at HAS. But her journey to den Bosch has been a long one: “After secondary school, I considered the University of Osnabrück, but found it too theoretical. At the international plant conference in Essen I came across people from HAS. There was an instant click.” She now lives in Den Bosch. “A great and friendly city.”

What are the strengths of HAS? According to Michelle it’s a university that focusses strongly on the future. “You learn to look and think ahead. What are the opportunities? What are the pitfalls?” The Horticulture & Business Management study programme really suites her ambitions: Michelle wants to take over her father’s company at some point. “He has 25 hectares of plants outdoors and 4.5 hectare in greenhouses.”

She thinks the ratio biology to economics is perfect in her study programme. “Just a bit more biology. That’s nice. But I also find business studies important. If you’re an excellent grower but have no idea about pricing or distribution, then you’ve got a problem.” She had her traineeship at a grower in the Swiss town of Lüzern and at Royal van Zanten in Aalsmeer, an international nursery for plants and flowers. “During my traineeship I carried out research into how Royal van Zanten can improve the position of their own customers/growers for production distribution channels such as Albert Heijn and Intratuin. I want to improve cooperation between the parties in the chain. More direct contact between growers and supermarket chains, for example, is useful. In the past, shops used to do their own purchasing. Now, it’s mainly wholesalers who decide what goes into the shops.”

After her studies? First a year back in Bielefeld, and then a year travelling and learning Spanish. Typical for Michelle: ambicíon.