“What does Connect mean to you?”

AMSTERDAM

NAME

Sigrid van Aken

FUNCTION

COO Novamedia, directeur Goede Doelen Loterijen, Commissaris GVB

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“Connection is a basic principle of life. I recently heard someone say ‘one brain is no brain.’ And it’s true. For me, the essence of a meaningful life lies in connecting with others. However, to really be able to connect with others, I think it is very important to first connect with yourself. You have to be honest with yourself about what you want and what stands in the way. To force myself to look at this, I regularly discuss it with people I trust, whose views I respect. And I work with a coach.

Our organisation connects ten million people in five countries to social initiatives that benefit human rights, nature and the environment, culture, health and well-being.

We want to bring the stories of the achievements in all these areas to a wider audience through the media. Stories of hope, with plenty of specific examples of innovation and progress, for people and nature so that others rediscover their motivation to help their fellow humans and the planet.

At one organisation I worked for, I was involved in large IT projects. They were intensive processes and I got on well with the other consultants who were my colleagues. However, I did not really have a genuine interest in the subject or any affinity with the clients and what mattered to them.” Click on read more for the sequel.

NAME

Leni Boeren

FUNCTION

CEO of Kempen,  Member of the Executive Board of Van Lanschot Kempen, Member of the Supervisory Board of Tata Steel NL, Air France-KLM and Transtrend

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Leonardo da Vinci: “Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.”

“For 35 years, I have dedicated my professional life to the financial services industry. I have worked for banks, a stock exchange and asset managers. This has given me great insight into the different fields. In my executive roles, I have also been involved in joint ventures, several mergers and acquisitions, an IPO and a change of ownership of a company. In those situations, it is all about connecting. You learn even more about the company and clients you work for and the people you work with, how it is viewed externally and that all what matters to achieve your goals is to connect with all stakeholders.

Over the past 20 years, I have spent the majority of my professional time outside the Netherlands in different geographies. If you truly want to connect with other cultures, be in a company culture and/or a country culture, in my experience you have to be a chameleon. To adapt to the local or company culture, to have the desire to be one with this group and establish a true connect, eventually be decisive in achieving your goals.”

NAME

Carolien Gehrels

FUNCTION

European director Big Urban Clients Arcadis,
Chair of the Board Women Inc.

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“My philosophy is that you always need to connect the bottom with the top. This makes for a very creative dynamic. The people at the top inspire those at the bottom, in music, sport and (ideally) at work, and the people at the bottom surprise, amaze and challenge the people at the top with their inventiveness. This is essentially what I do on a daily basis. I confront bright engineers with city challenges such as mobility, urban development and water issues.

Of course, it is not always easy. Sometimes there is no common ground or mutual goal. The interests may be very different or people do not need or want to change. As a councillor, I dealt with the merger between AT5 and RTV Noord Holland. It was hard work. So was the merger between Amsterdam Uitbureau, Amsterdam Partners and the Amsterdam Tourism and Convention Board. Eventually we agreed a point on the horizon, threw a lot of money at it and managed to sort it out.”

NAME

Vanessa van Baasbank

FUNCTION

General Counsel / Corporate Secretary, Stedelijk Museum

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“Connecting is one of the main driving forces in my life, both personally and professionally. I also think of connection in terms of content and process.

My role as a corporate lawyer and as secretary to the executive and supervisory boards of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam involves connections at many different levels. To resolve legal issues, you have to connect creative ideas with practical implementation. Then it is possible to implement the ideas with many different disciplines within and outside the museum.

Connecting is also an essential part of my role as executive and supervisory board secretary. I have to ensuring that everyone is promptly provided with the right information, monitoring governance, including when there are different views on it, promptly signalling fissures in the connection between the executive and supervisory boards, connecting legal and regulatory compliance with the daily operation of the museum – to name but a few examples.” Click on read more for the sequel.

NAME

Marry de Gaay Fortman

FUNCTION

Partner at Houthoff

PRACTICE AREA

Public Law

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“To me Connect means that you treat each other in a pleasant way. Being civil and pleasant is preferable, even in complicated business relationships. There is always a common goal to focus on. If you end up in a difficult situation, avoid thinking in a strong point of view. Instead, think in interests so that you can look for a compromise or the highest achievable shared interest.

Connect becomes a success experience if the connection you make ultimately leads to your goal.

Connection occurs when you respect everyone’s feelings and attitude, you only achieve your goal if you work energetically. I often see difficult mergers. People then tend to ask the question of guilt: how is it that we are delayed? Inevitably frustrations and emotions come to the table. I notice that I book success when I let it go – it’s okay to talk about it. As soon as one feels heard, it becomes easier to park those emotions and frustrations and to continue with what helps you move forward. If that succeeds, I experience it as a great success.” Click on read more for the sequel.

NAME

Marloes Brans

FUNCTION

Counsel at Houthoff

PRACTICE AREAS

Litigation
Public Law

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“For me, connecting is about making contact with people at a personal and professional level. I do it because I find it stimulating, and also because it’s helpful to have a large and diverse network.

Very recently, I was asked to suggest someone from the world of consulting as a speaker for a large water seminar.

The person I originally had in mind was working abroad. So I called another of my contacts who put me in touch with a colleague of theirs. It was a perfect fit. It is great to be able to fall back on a network, knowing that you can always rely on it to provide a solution.”

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