In the 19 years since the start of the Dutch Chamber we have seen members come and go. As the idea behind the Chamber is to facilitate a dynamic network platform we try to stay in touch with members who left Sweden when possible. We are curious to hear where they are now and would like to reflect with some of them on their time in Sweden and what this experience taught them.
I started as VD/Managing director for Arlanda Schiphol Development Company AB (ASDC) in March 2011. ASDC was a joint venture between Swedavia and the Schiphol Group. The focuswas to strengthen the commercial offer to passengers and visitors to the Swedish airports and I was is in charge of the development of shops, restaurants and commercial service at the airports. Swedavia Airports made the transition to insourcing by buying the shares from Royal Schiphol Group in the spring of 2014 and after the transition I resigned and moved to Norway to join the board of Airport Retail Group A/S, a large Norwegian fashion and duty free operator in the Northern European area
What were your expectations of Sweden and becoming an MD in a new country?
It was my first posting abroad and we were fortunate enough to meet a culture coach for a day, while still in NL. He was able to give us tips & tricks on doing business in Sweden. What I remember best is that although you think Sweden and the Netherlands are very similar, the way of doing business is truly very different. And that is so true….
Why did you become member of the Dutch Chamber? And do you have a favorite event you joined or organised?
My predecessor, Anne Marie Zuidweg, was the chairperson of the Dutch Chamber in 2011, so when I arrived I was fortunate to be able to directly join the events and later that year the board. It is a great opportunity to quickly build a network & share experiences with peers. Obviously the yearly gala was always a great event but I was also proud of the work that was done by the regions – whether the first ever event in Goteborg, the visit to the yearly Runn Winter Week in Falun and the company presentations. I believe they laid a good foundation.
What was your biggest learning from your time in Sweden that you would like to share with our Dutch Swedish network?
It was not always easy to remain patient and understand how things work in Sweden but I would say, keep the similarities of our (business)cultures in mind and try not to focus so much on the differences. We Dutch tend to focus on what we (think we) do better and speak to our hosts about what we think should improve. Our way of constant improvement, independency and challenging the status quo is absolutely a great quality but in my view it is better to make changes you want to make without speaking to that.
Are there things that you apply to your daily work now?
Living and working in different business cultures gives you a broad perspective and I always make sure I retain my curiosity how to be effective in new environments. One of the things I really liked about the Swedes is their punctuality – Arriving late is considered extremely discourteous and unprofessional. Where Dutch tend to come late to meetings (and parties for that matter) all the time, it shows respect to the time of others and I still live by that motto.
What are you doing right now?
In 2018 I moved my family from the Netherlands to the New York area to become the President & CEO of JFK International Air Terminal LLC. JFKIAT is the first private operator of an airport terminal in the United States - Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport. It is, one of the most active air terminals in the New York area, and serves 30 international and domestic airlines with an annual passenger volume of 22 million travelers in 2019.
What are the challenges in your current job you are facing?
This past year has disrupted and accelerated the pace of change in people, processes, place and technology across all aspects of the aviation industry. With my team i have prioritised the health and safety of our employees and passengers throughout the crisis and as a result, we have a strong culture of unity and placed that first and foremost during this crisis. And I am proud to see that we have not only persevered, but also witnessed our airport community and partners go above and beyond to ensure a safe and secure environment to win back customer confidence in air travel.
Have you ever visited Sweden after you left?
YES, Sweden will always remain in our hearts. We have made so many new friends, Swedes and from across the globe. Stockholm is simply beautiful and we look forward to visiting Sweden again soon….