Author - AABC

Member Spotlight: Annebet van Mameren – New2NL

Education consultancy specializing in supporting international families in the Netherlands Hello! My name is Annebet van Mameren, an education consultant specializing in supporting international families in the Netherlands. I founded New2NL, my consulting company, almost 11 years ago. I'm Dutch, and my husband is an American from Philadelphia. We live in Amsterdam with our two sons, whom we are raising to be bilingual in both Dutch and English. How long have you been a member of the AABC? I have been a proud member of the AABC for nine years now. I initially joined to expand my professional network in Amsterdam, especially considering my American husband and the many American clients I serve. The AABC has been an excellent platform to meet wonderful people and establish lasting friendships, as well as collaborate professionally. I have even referred clients to fellow members, and some of our families have become close friends. Additionally, I had the opportunity to contribute an article to the AABC about the Dutch school attendance law. Many international parents may be unaware of this law, which mandates school attendance for children aged 5 to 16 (or 18 if they haven’t received a diploma yet). The law is taken seriously; parents can face fines if their child misses school outside of official school holidays. You can read more about the law in my article: https://aabc.nl/the-dutch-school-attendance-law. Can you share a memorable experience or success story you've had as a result of being part of the AABC? My most memorable experience with the AABC is a personal story: A couple of years ago, my (elderly) in-laws came to visit us in Amsterdam, from the US. We knew in advance it would be the last time for them to visit us, so we wanted to do something special. My father-in-law has celiac disease (gluten intolerance), so he is always a bit anxious when eating out at a restaurant he doesn’t know. I invited the former AABC Chairman, Dennis Cowles, to cook a special dinner at our home, as a surprise for my in-laws. Dennis is a very experienced chef, and he understood how to cook and serve a delicious dinner while keeping the gluten separate. I told my father-in-law that when he cannot go to the restaurant, we’ll ask the restaurant to come to us. It was a such a special night, and my in-laws talk fondly about it to this day. What's one cultural business difference between the Dutch and the American approach that stands out to you, and how have you managed it? The Dutch are known to be very direct. Since I am Dutch, I expect to get a straight answer to my question, and I know the other person expects the same from me. I have noticed that many Americans are more indirect. They sometimes answer in a different way than I had expected, or they keep on asking me the same question, which I had already answered the first time. But then it turns out that they had actually wanted to know something different, but felt it wasn’t polite to ask it that way. After all those years, I still find this a bit confusing. I mean, just ask me what you want to know. Then I give you the answer, and we move on. I can see that some people are a bit shocked by this approach. I think it is important to be clear, and I don't let you read between the lines. It is also more efficient this way.  Sometimes my clients ask me: “the teacher of my child said XYZ. What could they have meant by that?”. My answer is then “If they said XYZ, they mean precisely XYZ. They are not talking about anything else, and they are not complaining about you or your child as a person, they just want to solve the one situation they mentioned.” That is often a relief for the parents, and I am happy to have made the communication between them a little easier.  Amsterdam is a vibrant city with a rich history and diverse culture. How does this environment influence or inspire your business operations? Last July, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of New2NL. At that moment I had assisted more than 1,000 families of all kinds of backgrounds. Now, this number has increased even more. I am very proud to help these families find their way in the Netherlands, and of course make sure the children land at a suitable school.  I have learned a lot from my clients about education and other things in the rest of the world, which I always find very interesting. I can use this knowledge when talking with the next clients who come from the same country.  I have also introduced some former clients of the same nationality or cultural background to each other. This way, the new arrivals already knew some people in Amsterdam, and they could share their experiences or celebrate their cultural traditions together with their new friends. That makes me very happy. If you could give one piece of advice to someone starting a business in Amsterdam, what would it be? It is great to run your own business, but it is not always easy. You need to know a bit of everything: sales, marketing, building websites, SEO, taxes, copywriting, finances, social media, etc. You can outsource a lot of these things, but in the end, you are the one who is responsible for your own business.  When I started my business, it really helped to talk to many different business people, and ask them for advice. I also arranged some barter deals; I helped some of the business owners to find a school, and in return they provided me the service that I needed. This has been a great experience, and much cheaper too. Many of these business owners I met during the AABC events, or via their members. I am still very grateful for these contacts, and now I try to pay it forward by giving advice to new business owners in Amsterdam. What's a fun or unexpected fact about yourself that most members might not know? When I was eight years old, I already decided that I would have bilingual children later. So, that has worked out very well… And lastly, if you were to describe our business networking club in three words, what would they be? Inspiring, friendly, gezellig ☺

Member Spotlight: Moustafa El Kabbash

Organization consultancy / Housekeeping Expert, Freelancer ZZP’er I'm Moustafa El Kabbash, and I made quite a journey from Egypt to Dubai when I was 19, initially working in the hospitality industry. Later, after relocating to the Netherlands, I found myself in housekeeping. This unique journey gave birth to my idea of creating and consulting in the housekeeping departments of hotels. My company specializes in cleaning services, but it's more than just that. We offer organizational and consulting services, help structure businesses, assist in HR matters, and optimize housekeeping processes. Our primary focus is on hotels and cleaning companies. I believe our services can greatly benefit AABC members by enhancing the efficiency and standards of their operations. How long have you been a member of the AABC? I officially became a member this year, but I've been acquainted with the AABC since 2019 through Art Hotel. I had previously met members and attended several events, so I was familiar with the community before becoming a member. Can you share a memorable experience or success story you've had as a result of being part of the AABC? One of the immediate benefits I've experienced as an AABC member is the expansion of my professional network. This broader network holds the potential for future collaborations and opportunities, which is invaluable. What's one cultural business difference between the Dutch and the American approach that stands out to you, and how have you managed it? Well, I'd say the Dutch approach differs significantly from both the American and my previous experience in Dubai. The Dutch have a unique way of doing business, they are very organized and structured. In Dubai, it's more about dynamic ideas and being two steps ahead. Moreover, the Netherlands is known for its advantageous tax policies, which makes business operations more straightforward. What are some challenges you've faced in your business journey and how did being a part of the AABC help in overcoming them? Challenges are inevitable in any business journey. The beauty of being part of a community like AABC is that you get exposed to different ideas and perspectives. When facing challenges, it's reassuring to know that you can tap into the collective wisdom of fellow members, which often provides fresh solutions. Amsterdam is a vibrant city with a rich history and diverse culture. How does this environment influence or inspire your business operations? Amsterdam is synonymous with freedom and diversity. This city is alive 24/7, and its attraction and lifestyle are truly inspiring. My business thrives in such an environment, where dynamism and innovation are encouraged. If you could give one piece of advice to someone starting a business in Amsterdam, what would it be? Having been in Amsterdam since 2012, my advice is not to underestimate the initial challenges. The smartest way is to thoroughly understand the local culture, taxation, and networks from the outset. Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. I regret waiting too long to do so; it's essential to break those barriers early. What's a fun or unexpected fact about yourself that most members might not know? I'm someone who fully embraces life and enjoys it to the max. I'm open-minded, approachable, and consider myself a free spirit, always ready to connect with others. And lastly, if you were to describe our business networking club in three words, what would they be? FUN, Professional, Energetic.

Member Spotlight: Saskia Maas

CEO Boom Chicago A longstanding AABC member, Saskia once held a seat on our board. We're so pleased that she has once again embraced our AABC community. Welcome back, Saskia! What is Boom Chicago? Boom Chicago is an Improv Theater and Comedy Club that has been showcasing outstanding English-language comedy acts for the last 30 years. Their comedic spectacles ignite laughter among both locals and visitors, all in the heart of the city center at their comedy haven on the Rozengracht. Unveiling Cultural Nuances: Dutch Honesty and American Curiosity At Boom Chicago and Boom Chicago for Business, Saskia uncovers distinctive cultural traits the Netherlands and the US. There's Dutch directness, a penchant for expressing thoughts directly, which is often perceived as blunt; while Americans tend to exude curiosity and boundless optimism. Navigating to Boom Chicago: Saskia's Unexpected Voyage During her time as an exchange student in America pursuing a master's degree, Saskia's path converged with the visionaries behind Boom Chicago, who were discussing the idea of launching a theater in Amsterdam. Today, Saskia commands the roles of CEO for both Boom Chicago and Boom Chicago for Business. In this capacity, she spearheads business development, global corporate program production, strategic initiatives, financial matters, sales, and public relations. Saskia, equipped with a master's degree in linguistics from Tilburg University, also completed Nyenrode's esteemed one-year Executive Management Development Program. Her leadership journey extends to THNK, the renowned school of Creative Leadership. Boom Chicago's History With an illustrious history spanning 30 years, Boom Chicago has been showcasing outstanding comedy acts in English, captivating audiences from its comedy sanctuary on the Rozengracht. Distinguished comedians including Seth Meyers, Jordan Peele, and the creative minds behind Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis, Brendan Hunt, and Joe Kelly) have graced the stage. The comedic legacy continues with the next generation taking the spotlight tonight! Click on the following links for more information about Boom Chicago: website, LinkedIn, Instagram and Wikipedia!