Johannes Martinus Marie Engels, has been trained in genetics, plant breeding and pedagogic and didactics at the Agricultural University of Wageningen between 1967 and 1974. He started his career at the tropical Central American research institute CATIE, Costa Rica in 1976 as a team member of a GTZ implemented project on the establishment of a regional plant genetic resources (PGR) programme in Central America. During this period he also initiated his PhD research on taxonomic and genetic aspects of cacao genetic resources and defended his thesis successfully in Wageningen in 1986. From 1981 -1987 he was project leader of the BMZ funded and GTZ implemented genebank project in Ethiopia with technical responsibilities on genetic resources management and use aspects as well as managerial project responsibilities. In 1988 he joined the International Board for Plant Genetic Resources. He coordinated for three years regional PGR activities in South and Southeast Asia, from the base in New Delhi, India. In 1991 he moved to Rome and joined the Regional Programme of IBPGR (later IPGRI and now Bioversity International). In 1993 he assumed the responsibility as Director of the Germplasm Management Unit. In 1998 he was appointed Director of the Genetic Resources Science and Technology Group. In 2006 he stepped down as Director and as the Genetic Resources Management Advisor he accepted more specific responsibilities such as the coordinator of the global cacao genetic resources network (CacaoNet) and coordinator of the virtual European genebank system initiative (AEGIS), besides other more institutional responsibilities. On the 1st of January 2012 he formally retired from Bioversity International and continues to work as a consultant.