As a PA to expats and VIPs, Audrey Mezas offers practical guidance to people from all over the world who settle at or around the Zuidas. Her clients range from CEOs to musicians and from start-ups to Olympic athletes. Mezas’ agency, Expat in Amsterdam, helps them with anything they need. “When a request comes in I often don’t know who the actual client is. Not that it really matters as they all receive the same high-quality service.”
“As far as I know, I’m the only one in the Netherlands in this line of business”, Audrey Mezas explains. There are relocation advisors, but the real stress for many of her clients actually begins after being handed the keys to their new home. “Make a phone call over here and the standard message you get is “all our lines are busy at the moment.” Moreover, many websites still only offer information in Dutch only. That’s why I offer this high-end personal service, ‘Executive Lifestyle Management’, for both private and business customers.”
After mapping her client’s needs, Mezas starts looking for the specialists to take care of the various tasks, such as real estate agents, chauffeurs, builders, mortgage advisors, doctors and bodyguards. Over the years, she has built a network of 64 professionals. “Recently, I collaborated with a team of specialists on an assignment for an American company; within 7 weeks we managed to find a suitable location for them and helped with the necessary paperwork to buy the property”. While leaving specialized tasks to the qualified members of her team, Mezas is in charge of the entire process and acts as the ‘quality controller’: “I’m there when the real estate agent carries out the technical inspection and I’m also present when the keys to the property change hands.”
Saving time and money
The above is just one example of the service she offers as every client has unique requirements. Mezas helps CEOs who only spend 24 hours in the Netherlands to finalize a business take-over but she also assists Olympic athletes who want to buy a house and stay here for 5 years but who need to be able to focus on their training and their families. She won’t mention any names since confidentiality is key to her profession. She can draw from personal experience when it comes to living in a foreign country with a language you don’t speak and a culture you don’t know. Her father was a banker who was transferred to another country every two years.
“My mother, my younger brother and me followed my dad wherever he went: from Holland to Tahiti and Australia and from the Middle East to the United States. Every time we were facing a new culture with different rules. My mother was brilliant in finding out how it all worked’. To save other expats these troubles she started Expat in Amsterdam®in 2012. ‘With my help my clients save valuable time and money as I have the expertise and the contacts expats do not have.”
Respect for etiquette
Apart from all the differences between the 17 places she lived at in her youth, Mezas also saw a lot of similarities. “Wherever we were living, business people came around to our house and deals were negotiated during a dinner party or a poolside barbecue. And the same principle applies here in Amsterdam: deals are finalized over breakfast, lunch or dinner. ‘So I need to go to the gym a lot”, she smiles.
Her parents taught her the importance of etiquette and this still helps her to this very day. “You always need to respect the way things work in a different culture, especially being a business woman. Information on unwritten rules in other cultures I often deduct from The New York Times and the The Financial Times: they are full of stories on business life in virtually every country. Sometimes I call my dad to ask him about a culture I don’t know. That is if I there is time to call him because it does happen that I need to act on very short notice.”
Raising the bar
No matter how difficult a request or how quickly it needs to be done, Mezas will always try to find a solution. “I don’t like saying ‘no’. If the assignment is really impossible I’ll accept that but it hardly ever is. One day, a client wanted to build a music studio so I decided to call Armin van Buuren’s office. I spoke to his right hand who referred me to the person who constructed their studio. That’s the way I operate; if people ask me something, they expect me to do it perfectly.”
Mezas believes that knowledge is power, therefore she always uses the best experts in their field. “I’m a connector, I want to bring people together. My experts are very professional but above all they are very fine people and I trust them completely. I have no choice because this job never stops. Normally, I work from 8 till 8 but when a project is running my client can contact me 24/7.”
And this doesn’t bother her at all. “I’ve never been so happy. I know I’m made for this and I feel privileged to have found my niche. The best part of this job is people giving you their trust. When a request comes in I don’t always know who the actual client is. Not that it really matters as everyone receives the same high-quality service. When the job is done and the client is happy, I feel a sense of relief that really gives me a huge kick! At the same time I have to keep raising the bar for myself: when I’ve managed to find a house for a client really quickly, the next one will have heard about and will demand the same service.”
Growing with global allure
Audrey Mezas enjoys the fact that her work is mainly centered around the Zuidas and in Amsterdam-Zuid. “Some of my clients are located as far away as Wageningen, but 90 percent of the expats live in this area. And that’s great because this is my home turf. “Zuid” is booming and things change quickly here. That Expat in Amsterdam®, that’s me: an urban kameleon. I love Amsterdam and I’m proud of this city and the Netherlands. It is wonderful to see it developing but I do feel it’s important to do it with global allure. That’s my style; I sell expertise with attention to detail and focus on quality. You need that if you want to achieve something. My dream is to offer this service on a large scale but always with personal attention.”
In 2012, Audrey-Lynn Mezas started Expat in Amsterdam, an agency offering PA services to expats, executives and VIPs. Her clients include professional athletes, bankers, CEOs, start-up companies and musicians – some only staying here for 24 hours, others spending 5 years or more in the Dutch capital.