Author: Caroline Vlietstra

Join the discussion about new green along De Boelelaan

Have you noticed them already, the human-sized question marks along the De Boelelaan Midden? They are there for a reason of course. The Zuidas department of the City of Amsterdam…

Have you noticed them already, the human-sized question marks along the De Boelelaan Midden? They are there for a reason of course. The Zuidas department of the City of Amsterdam has started preparations for the refurbishment of De Boelelaan Midden (located between Beethovenstraat and Parnassusweg).

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Feiten en cijfers Zuidas

Zuidas, het gebied dat ligt tussen Schiphol en de Amsterdamse binnenstad, tussen de wijken Buitenveldert en Oud Zuid en natuurgebieden Nieuwe Meer en Amstel, is constant in ontwikkeling en is…

Zuidas, het gebied dat ligt tussen Schiphol en de Amsterdamse binnenstad, tussen de wijken Buitenveldert en Oud Zuid en natuurgebieden Nieuwe Meer en Amstel, is constant in ontwikkeling en is de laatste jaren enorm gegroeid. Hier wat feiten en cijfers op een rij.

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Happy, busy bees at Zuidas

Not only there are the sky-high office complexes built at Zuidas, but there is a concern for the bees as well. So, Zuidas has built up to 19 Bee Hotels…

Not only there are the sky-high office complexes built at Zuidas, but there is a concern for the bees as well. So, Zuidas has built up to 19 Bee Hotels in the area. It is an award-winning project to green the city. The solitary bee has a crucial role, and oak wood is the best material, is what the designers of these hotels can tell us.

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Zuidas won’t lean back

Like so many other entrepreneurs, shop owners at Zuidas are having a difficult time during the Coronacrisis. To sit back is not an option. Several restaurants at Zuidas started home…

Like so many other entrepreneurs, shop owners at Zuidas are having a difficult time during the Coronacrisis. To sit back is not an option.

Several restaurants at Zuidas started home delivery services, now, flowers, tailored suits and wines can also be delivered to the front door.

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The sound of violins in Zuidas on Woningsdag

On Woningsdag 2020 (a play on words that turns King’s Day into Home Day), three violinists will treat Zuidas to mini concerts at 13.00, 14.00 and 15.00h. They will be…

On Woningsdag 2020 (a play on words that turns King’s Day into Home Day), three violinists will treat Zuidas to mini concerts at 13.00, 14.00 and 15.00h. They will be drawing their bows across the strings on the roofs of Intermezzo and the Gershwin Brothers, and in the courtyard garden of Xavier.

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The construction of the Zuidasdok project in Amsterdam may cost 1 billion euros more, according to the NOS yesterday. Moreover, a letter from Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen to the House…

The construction of the Zuidasdok project in Amsterdam may cost 1 billion euros more, according to the NOS yesterday. Moreover, a letter from Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen to the House of Representatives reveals that the large-scale construction project is once again being delayed.

Construction had initially been planned for nine years. But even before the first shovel hit the ground, the prestigious project was delayed. One of the reasons for this was the complexity of the project, with many tunnels in a small area.

Because of the delays, the cabinet had the project investigated by a committee led by former minister Sybilla Dekker. It now concludes that the project must go ahead at all costs. “Doing nothing is not an option,” she advises. Otherwise there will be too many traffic jams on the highway and at the public transport.

In view of the complexity, the project should be divided into small parts, Dekker advises. The last part will then be completed between 2032 and 2036, which is four years later than planned at the earliest. But all this also costs more money. The budget deficit is now estimated at between 700 million and 1 billion euros.

Source: www.nos.nl

Update:

From an article that newspaper NRC Saturday 28 March devoted to the developments on the Zuidasdok, it appears that the expansion of Station Zuid in particular has high priority. The number of passengers grew by 47 percent in the last year. Partly due to the arrival of international trains, 300,000 passengers per day are expected here in due course instead of the current 80,000, according to NRC.

Walter Etty, chairman of passenger organisation Rover, even calls the situation dangerous. “People are falling off the platform, it’s so crowded there.

Two professors, the economists Coen Teulings and Henri de Groot, who were consulted by Dekker, find the plans for two additional tracks too modest. They advocate eight tracks.

In her advice, former minister Dekker concludes that the national prosperity will only benefit if the Zuidasdok project is completed. Bureau Decisio calculated that two billion in costs would be offset by 2.1 billion in benefits.

According to a spokesman for the municipality of Amsterdam, the municipality is now entering into talks with the national government. The agreement is that Amsterdam will pay a quarter of the extra costs, and that the government will pay the rest. Dekker expects that politicians will agree to the extra billion, because the transport hub is of national importance. “You don’t solve anything by stopping, especially in times of crisis,” she says to NRC.

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‘We lift it safely or we do not lift at all’

28 The largest Dutch courthouse, the New Amsterdam Courthouse, is undergoing a complete renovation. It is a project being headed up by Heijmans, a leader in the construction industry. Amer Mahmutovic…

28

The largest Dutch courthouse, the New Amsterdam Courthouse, is undergoing a complete renovation. It is a project being headed up by Heijmans, a leader in the construction industry. Amer Mahmutovic is a crane operator, and one of the many people working on the site.

This interview took some preparation as we needed to go high up. I met him at ground level, wearing who wears the expected combination of work shoes, hi-vis jacket and hardhat. From this staggering height. Firstly, we went up three levels on a ladder, and then a further three levels via an elevator. Once sixty five metres above ground, we were in a cabin, from where Amer is key to the realization of the renovated courthouse.

Before we set foot in the tiny space, we changed our shoes for slippers. Once inside, the hand-held vacuum cleaner, baby wipes and bottles of surface and window cleanser reveal his love of a tidy workspace.

Enormous crane

Up until last year, Amer was a driving instructor. Nowadays he is operating the enormous crane we find ourselves near the top of.

“I was fed up with giving driving lessons; youngsters have changed so much. So, I re-trained to become a crane operator,” he says. “I had to get used to life in the construction industry. And in my case, this is quite a lonely life, being up here. I was always used to always having a student sitting next to me. But, this isolation is for the best, because for this job you need to be fully concentrated at all times.” 

Amer has been working as a crane operator for eight months.  His first job was contributing to the building of the nhow Amsterdam Rai Hotel (the one with the three triangles). He is currently watching the New Amsterdam Courthouse grow beneath him at a great speed from a dizzying height.

“Whether I am lifting a beam, a wire construction, a block of concrete or braided concrete, it all adds something to the Courthouse. Sometimes it is a serious piece of craftsmanship if I might say, with real military precision. But at the end of the day, that gives me my satisfaction. On the other hand, it is a hazardous job. Everything here is about safety.

Carefull

When working with this kind of machinery, you have to be careful, we lift it safely or we do not lift at all! Do you see those other two cranes over there? My colleagues and I are in touch constantly via radio. However, on the rare occasion our booms are too close, they are brought to a halt automatically, just like the automatic distance device in the latest cars.” 

Amer’s crane weighs 32 tons. When dual wired, the boom (the long, moving arm) can hoist up to eight tons, and, when four wired, at least sixteen tons, which is comparable to the weight of ten cars.
As well as taking into account the weight, there are also weather factors to consider, like wind.

“Everything here is checked, checked again, and then triple checked. From the moment I start to lift, it is all about millimetres. With the utmost accuracy, I hand the boys down there their goods. They advise me via their radios. Another two metres, one more, fifty centimetres, thirty, ten, etc. Though I am physically secluded, we have to work together as a team in order to avoid accidents.”

 

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Efficient Hotel Partner: carefree outsourcing

In the digital age the world is at our feet. Yet we all know how long it can take the find the perfect hotel. And once we’ve managed to get…

In the digital age the world is at our feet. Yet we all know how long it can take the find the perfect hotel. And once we’ve managed to get that ‘dream spot’ we soon find out it’s either fully booked or – even worse – it’s nowhere near as perfect as the pictures on the website suggested. Together with her team, owner Marianne Kuiper of Efficient Hotel Partner provides a good old-fashioned travel service.

In Amstelveen’s Oude Dorp area we meet Marianne and her 5-strong team in the stylish office that has been the home of Efficient Hotel Partner (EHP) for 21 years now. “Yeah, we’ve finally grown up”, Marianne laughs. “Many people celebrate being 20 or 25 years in a certain business, but we liked the idea of celebrating the age of maturity for EHP.”

First things first: what does Efficient Hotel Partner do exactly? “We arrange suitable accommodation for our clients”, she explains. “Whenever companies are looking for a venue to hold a training course, meeting, brainstorm session or a congress – with or without overnight stay – we help them find the location that’s perfect for their needs. Every one of us here is specialized in a certain field so we really complement each other.”

Carefree outsourcing

“Jacco Verschoor, the only man in our team, is a travel industry veteran and Jennifer Lam, who has worked for large hotel chains in Australia, is our expert in complex bookings. Mieke van Middelkoop is the creative mind and Mirna van Driel is our source of information and financial expert. As for me, I worked for the Bilderberg Group for 15 years. Together we operate in a fast, effective and, as our name suggests, efficient manner. Above all, we really love our jobs and our clients can feel that. Our reward? A happy client. And a happy client is someone who will definitely use our service again.”

In this day and age everything can be arranged from our comfy chair using online platforms such as Booking.com and Trivago. So why should companies contact Efficient Hotel Partner? “When a secretary is asked to book a nice venue for a brainstorm session – with or without overnight stay – for a group of 20 to 200 people, she’ll start looking on Google. She probably has a few ideas and her colleagues will chime in as well. She’ll start emailing to see if the venue is available at the requested date, then she’ll ask for a few prices and presents the plan to her boss. Maybe the programme needs to contain a fun outing, like a guided bicycle ride, a boat tour, or sheep-shearing. Again she’ll start looking around, asking for prices. It’s a hell of a task and very time-consuming.”

Your Personal Assistant

What does EHP have to offer, other than what people can find out themselves? “Good old-fashioned service, personal contact. A voice listening to you at the other end of the line, someone asking you what you need and acting upon this information. We’ve noticed that people really want this. After a period of economic crisis and online bookings, there’s a growing demand for personal service. No phone menu, no ‘do it yourself’. You could say we are a kind of personal assistant to our clients.”

“From the very first day we’ve managed to build a solid reputation; we know the Netherlands inside out and we’ve visited virtually all hotels and meeting venues. We’ve built a great client base and we’re very proud of that. Our secret? We love our clients and that feeling is mutual. That’s our trademark and the reason why large companies like Nationale-Nederlanden and Henkel, but also DJ Martin Garrix, like to do business with us. ”

Sharp and creative

So many companies, so many employees, so many requirements. How do you manage to meet all their different needs? “People experience fragmentation; they have to deal with myriads of suppliers and suffer from choice overload. We structure the booking process, making it easier for them. And we ask our clients lots of questions: What is your budget? What do you prefer: city, countryside, or the coast? Should the accommodation be easily accessible by public transport; is parking space required? Are there any foreign guests that need to be picked up from Schiphol Airport? Once we know the ins and outs of their request we start our search and soon after we send them proposals for a few venues. Plus we do all the invoicing so the client only has to deal with one supplier: us.” 

The interview for this magazine was conducted in a beautifully decorated room, the Music Meeting Lounge, at a separate location but under the same roof as EHP. This is Marianne’s youngest brainchild. “I really missed having guests around me so I came up with the idea of having our own meeting venue. A location in Amstelveen’s Oude Dorp, at walking distance from De Poel and the Amsterdamse Bos, where hospitality is written in capital letters.” 

This year the Music Meeting Lounge was hailed as the best small-scale meeting venue in the province of Noord-Holland. A very nice award to receive. “Not bad, given that our Meeting Lounge only opened 18 months ago!”

Efficient Hotel Partner
Badlaan 1 bis
Amstelveen

T 020 345 2322
W www.efficienthotelpartner.nl

 

Picture: Marianne Kuiper wears a red coat

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VU Amsterdam delivers top finance professionals

When 41-year old Aimée Geerts was a student, the area around VU Amsterdam was a fairly quiet and remote part of Amsterdam. These days, that very same university is the…

When 41-year old Aimée Geerts was a student, the area around VU Amsterdam was a fairly quiet and remote part of Amsterdam. These days, that very same university is the academic epicentre of the thriving Zuidas business district and there is a lot of interaction between Zuidas companies and VU Amsterdam.

“One could say I have seen Zuidas grow from my office at Commerzbank” says Aimée, who has been working at Zuidas since 2006 and is Assistant to the Country CEO at the German Commerzbank. Initially, her office was located in the Atrium but three years ago her company moved to the Viñoly Tower, the building with the conspicuous staircase on the outside.

“After I completed my degree in International Business Administration at Maastricht University, I started working for Commerzbank. From the very first day I really felt at home there but I was missing a bit of focus as my degree was a fairly general one. That’s why I went looking for a course that was in line with my job but would delve a little deeper.”

Perfect place

“I was looking around for the right postdoctoral degree and then I found the Executive Master in Finance & Control (EMFC) at VU Amsterdam. This was the perfect place for me. During the introductory interview, the commitment and enthusiasm of one of the teachers really inspired me.”

“The Commerzbank fully supported my choice. Not surprisingly as the Executive Master in Finance & Control (Registercontroller in Dutch) at VU Amsterdam was the first programme of its kind in the Netherlands and VU delivers all the top professionals in the Dutch financial world. Moreover, VU Amsterdam is a leading  institute when it comes to the development of this area of financial expertise.”

The fact that Aimée was working next to VU Amsterdam and the university’s leading role in finance and control, were the decisive factors in choosing this degree. From 2011 to 2013, Aimée spent every Friday studying and attending classes at VU Amsterdam. 

Enriching experience

“Back then, we were right in the middle of the financial crisis but my course was full. It was such an enriching experience. Getting feedback from others on your everyday work was so useful. You’re studying together with other people; every one of us was working in a different field so we could really learn from each other.”

“We were working on business cases in groups of four students. My group contained people from the aviation, banking, healthcare and insurance industries. Right from the kick-off weekend we were studying together. Every one of us had his or her own expertise and that gave me a lot of insight. And obviously the teachers challenged us big time.” 

Variety of subjects

With the Executive Master in Finance & Control, Aimée has added another degree to her impressive resume. “That’s nice but what counts is what this degree has brought me. The variety of subjects, finance, reporting, strategy, corporate and tax law, has enabled me to cooperate more efficiently with the various departments within the bank. I’m really happy with my choice for this degree course.”

With her job and university close by, Aimée feels at home at Zuidas. She lives in Naarden with her husband and two children, but from her office she has seen the steady growth of ‘The Big Apple of Amsterdam’. In the old days, there was only De Blauwe Engel to go for drinks and a bite to eat, but these days people are spoilt for choice. “I consider Naarden Amsterdam’s backyard. I take my kids to school with my cargo bike and it only takes me 30 minutes by train to get to my Zuidas office. This way I still feel like an ‘Amsterdammer’.”

Alumni Association

In Aimée’s field of work, regular training is a necessity. That’s why VU Amsterdam organizes activities for members of the alumni association throughout the year. There are usually two teachers present during these alumni evenings. “It’s very informative. You meet up with your former fellow-students and it’s also nice to see the teachers again. For example, I’m still in touch with Bert Steens, who has been a professor at VU Amsterdam since the year 2000. If there’s anything I need help with, I can always ask Bert for advice.”

Bert Steens adds: “We have a wonderful and active alumni community and we’re very proud of that. We regularly meet former students such as Aimée. I think that is due to the good relationship we’ve built during the course, as well as to our location at Zuidas, where many alumni are working in finance positions. There are a lot of things going on, a lot of traffic and accessibility is excellent, both with public transport and by car or bicycle. VU Amsterdam could not have chosen a better location. Students working at Zuidas can pop in during their lunch break to discuss something.”

Executive Education

Senior finance specialists also find their way to VU Amsterdam for training courses and master classes. “Apart from doing a Master in Finance and Control, professionals can keep abreast of developments in their field by participating in our Executive Education programme, for example following a course in Business Analytics.”

Early 2020, VU Amsterdam will start a new degree programme in cooperation with other universities abroad: an International Executive MBA in Finance & Control.  

“This course is meant for experienced business professionals who are aiming for a financial role at senior management or board level, like a position as finance director or CFO. This is an executive MBA programme with a strong focus on general management and finance & control, tackling all the challenges that the combination of those two disciplines entails.”

 

 

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
School of Business and Economics
W www.sbe.vu.nl/nl/

 

 

 

 

photo Aimée Geerts by Katja Mali

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Zuidas versus The City

Obviously, one cannot compare the Zuidas with its bigger financial brother in London as the British capital has ten times as many inhabitants. But still, the Zuidas is slowly but…

Obviously, one cannot compare the Zuidas with its bigger financial brother in London as the British capital has ten times as many inhabitants. But still, the Zuidas is slowly but surely getting a more international image and – due to the impending Brexit – more and more companies are opening offices in Amsterdam. Reason enough to ask three experts about the opportunities in both cities and the differences and similarities between Amsterdam and London.

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