"I’m convinced that global cooperation is the key to better international relations and business."
Last summer Niek joined the team as Project Director for the Dutch participation in the 35th world exhibition in Dubai. His role is to manage the overall Expo project and lead the project team, companies and other stakeholders towards a successful Dutch participation in Expo 2020 Dubai.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I have my roots in the province of Zeeland. My passion for water, wind and the elements have always inspired me in life, work and sports (sailing and scuba diving).
After finishing my masters studies in international politics, economics and business I worked in the private sector for several years. Missing the rush from world politics and the international community, I joined the foreign service. After diplomatic postings in Moscow, Jakarta and New York (UN) I returned to the sunny city by the sea. Enjoying daily walks on the beach with our dog Jimmy the Basset. Fresh winds and beaches are relaxing and inspiring. I recommend them to everyone.
What did you do before you joined the Expo team, and how does it connect to Expo Dubai?
Previously I lived in the Big Apple, where I worked at the United Nations. New York City is one big melting pot with so many different nationalities, cultures and ideas. Just like the UN with 193 countries working together for a better world. That may sound a bit idealistic, but I’m convinced that global cooperation is the key to better international relations and business. At the same time, I’m also realistic and pragmatic; we have to walk the talk, and work closely together with companies and countries to develop business models and achieve common goals.
What do you bring to the Expo team?
I feel as proud as the Expo team to be part of this big adventure. One of our main goals is to showcase Dutch innovative power, and capitalise on the business opportunities on offer in the Gulf region and beyond. The pavilion will be a focal point and an international hub where companies and governments can meet for networking, sharing knowledge and closing business deals.
What motivates you about your work on the Expo project?
The most important and valuable asset for a project director is working closely together in a strong and committed team with a healthy team spirit and some fun factor in your daily teamwork. As Henry Ford once said, ‘Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success’.
How is the postponement of Expo 2020 affecting your job and what are your goals for the months ahead?
In our work we try to anticipate the unexpected through contingency planning. In 2020, that unexpected has been a global pandemic. So much like other countries, we’ve rolled our sleeves up, and have looked carefully at what this means for our team and planning. The global pandemic forces us to cope with new challenges during the exhibition, especially the way countries and companies will participate. I think these challenges also open up new opportunities in doing business and the way we’ll present ourselves, including virtually, in Dubai. In my view the digital component will be part and parcel of our participation in the exhibition.
What would you like to say to readers of DutchDubai.com?
The Netherlands is committed to being part of the World Expo in 2021. We’ll be setting sail into new waters and look forward to connecting with you!