My target is to have a bigger future user base for the NRCC community
Interview with Mr. Tom Leene, President of Netherlands Romanian Chamber of Commerce (NRCC)
Hello Tom! You did quite a journey before coming to Romania. How did everything start? Tell us a little bit more about that!
Hi! Well, I guess it all started when I studied at the University back in the Netherlands. A mandatory part of my bachelor curriculum was to do a 6 months internship in a company. I chose to do this in Semarang, Indonesia and I guess that’s where I got caught by the travel bug. To start in a completely new, unknown environment was a real thrill for me. During my Master years I took the opportunity again and traveled to Central America for a couple of months doing market research for Dutch companies. When I finished my studies, I knew I wanted to work at a company that could offer me the ability to develop myself further and with opportunities to travel, as well. Fortunately for me, GKN Fokker could do just that! I started in a Management Development Program working at different locations in the Netherlands and abroad and was aimed at training the future managers of the company. A perfect fit for me as it grew my love for aviation and was my stepping stone to next exciting opportunities in the company. When I finished the program, I went into project management first in the Netherlands and quickly after for almost two years in Atlanta, US. When the project was finished I took on the challenge to come to Bucharest, Romania in July 2017 and have been here ever since.
Looking back now, what was your turning point in your career?
Well, to be honest I think the start of my career was in fact also the turning point! My academic degree is not in aviation and there was no significant prior affinity with the industry. My main reason to apply at GKN Fokker was the great development program we have. Quickly after I started, I fell in love with aviation and I never looked back! The Aerospace industry is different from others. It is very globally oriented with only a handful large players. Relationships are long term and often based on equal partnership between organizations. We know who our customers are and they will probably be the same ones 10 years from now, so successful long term collaboration is key in our business.
Tell us what you find exciting in your position as the President of the Dutch-Romanian Business Community?
What I find exciting in my ‘normal’ job I also enjoy very much in my role as president; to build relationships with people around me. The NRCC brings their members closer together in their shared goals. This creates a natural bond and a solid foundation to work together. I have experienced firsthand what added benefit this can have and I am sure many other members feel the same way. In my role as president, I want to increase the added benefits for the members and provide even more value through these collaborations. This is something I feel very passionate about.
You are a young leader with a lot of experience. What do you think it was the recipe, in your case, to grow so fast?
I believe that the main two ingredients for me would be dedication and perseverance. I have always enjoyed my work a lot and therefore always pushed myself to become better at it. I try to be open to new situations and new people around me and try to always say ‘yes’ to opportunities that cross my path.
Your experience shows us that you lived and worked in many countries, which means that you had to face the cultural variety and the different ways of approaching things. How did you find this? Was it a challenge for you?
I always find it extremely challenging to work in and with different cultures. This however makes it very exciting as well. Although it remains difficult at times, I try to be as open as possible and assimilate the culture around me. Looking at my time here in Romania, I believe the Dutch and Romanian cultures have many similarities between them and this makes it in general relatively easy to adapt. Romanian people are working hard and are pleasant in their collaboration.
What is it like to work at GKN Fokker Engineering and what does the future hold for the company?
GKN Fokker Engineering Romania (FER) has been established in 2004 and was setup to do the design and structural analysis of technical parts on new aircraft. Nowadays we have an office with 50 high skilled and very experienced Aerospace engineers performing all kinds of engineering tasks related to entire life cycle of an aircraft. It is really exciting to work with a team of professionals that is so dedicated and passionate about their profession and this gives me a lot of energy.
After a couple of slower years, our industry is really in the lift again with new aircraft projects all over the world. These new developments give us new opportunities so the future is looking very bright!
How the idea of applying to NRCC Presidency came into your mind?
I have been involved with the NRCC since the moment I moved to Romania. Our company has always believed in the added benefits of the Chamber of Commerce and I strongly believe that, as well.
How did you receive the news about coming to Romania?
When my previous project in the US ended, I was looking for new opportunities within the company when all of a sudden, I received a phone call from the director engineering in our company about an opening in Bucharest, Romania. I was not sure what to expect, but after many positive meetings with my predecessor and others in the organization, I confidently said yes! I have been here now for almost two years and I’m very happy I took the right decision!
What are your plans as a NRCC President?I would like to start by saying that the NRCC is in a great shape and performing very well as a chamber of commerce. We have a stable, robust member list with a good mix of Dutch and Romanian companies. The NRCC is an organization made by and for its members. It has to provide them with added value for their business. Together with the team and the Board of Directors, I want to make sure we keep adding this value for all members. We have always been very innovative as a chamber and I would like this to continue adding new products that will appeal to an even bigger future user base.
How do you find Romania? What do you like to do in your free time?
I have been here now for almost two years and I must say that I really enjoy myself. I like living in a vibrant city and Bucharest has so much to offer. I love experiencing new restaurants or other cool places in the city together with some friends who I met over here. Next to that, I am training a lot right now for my first 70.3 Iron Man challenge coming up in Mamaia in September. The entry ticket was a gift from my coworkers so I really want to be well prepared and do my best!
This Interview was written and processed by NRCC Member Ogilvy (www.ogilvy.com)