Mon | 01.02.2016
1. Although you may be well-known among the Dutch-Romanian business community, we still would like to ask you to introduce yourself.
Definitely. Most members call me Bas, which is short for Sebastiaan. I was born in 1982, in The Hague, The Netherlands. I’ve lived my life with a conscious effort to push myself and explore the world around me. As a child, I lived 5 years in Saudi Arabia with my family, which gave me a passion for travelling and meeting new cultures, something I continued doing while living in Mexico, Canada, the US and now 3 years in Romania. I graduated at the University of Technology in Delft before starting to work at Fokker in 2009. I have been part of the NRCC board since the beginning of 2015 and I ran for President because I want to fulfill the extraordinary potential of the NRCC and Romania itself in terms of growth and development. Besides, I feel no greater privilege than representing the countless ideas, objectives and dreams of our members as President of this community. When I have some free time, which is not often, I love to spend my time in the ocean, which is where I find modesty, feeling the immense power of our nature.
2. You are working in the aerospace industry, one of the most innovative sectors. Please share with us some insights.
The dream to fly has long been shared between Romania and The Netherlands. Two countries, both with a rich aerospace tradition, gave birth to legendary aviation pioneers. Aurel Vlaicu and Anthony Fokker both built in 1910, independently from one another, their countries’ first powered aircraft. Whereas Aurel Vlaicu met a tragic end, when he heroically attempted to be the first pilot to cross the Carpathian mountains flying his Vlaicu Nr. II, Anthony Fokker lived to see his dream transform into the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer by the late 1920’s. A century later, the global aerospace industry has evolved into an industry that has become enormously profitable and has had a significant impact on our lives and our business world. In the last 20 years, the amount of passengers has tripled to around 3 billion per year, while the price of flying has decreased with 30% in the same period. It is a high-technology industry characterized by constant innovation, driven by intensive partnerships between research centers, universities and organizations. Affordability drives technological development as manufacturers are innovating designs, materials and engines to lower the price per seat as much as possible. As innovation for The Netherlands and Romania is crucial for long-term success, our task forces on Creative and High-Tech industries are great facilitators for our members to cooperate, learn from each other and influence policy and regulations.
3. You took over the presidency in an important moment: in 2016, the chamber celebrates 10 years of activity. What do you consider now to be the main directions for a stronger growth of NRCC?
From now on, we will grow the presence of the NRCC by deploying structural activities in other Romanian cities like Brasov, Constanta and Cluj. Cities where a large base of Dutch companies is operating. Furthermore we will strengthen our member engagement through a series of growing dedicated events, transferring knowledge through our monthly knowledge centers and develop further our successful member driven sector-taskforces. Our members can expect an extra touch to these initiatives because of our 10 year anniversary. All comes down to build an even stronger and active community, as the success of every business depends on a community of people working together. Alone we can make a difference, but together we make change.
4. What are biggest challenges you think Romania will face in the next 5 years? How can NRCC contribute?
I believe the biggest challenges for Romania will be to maintain economic growth and labour availability while dealing with a declining population and low labour participation. Secondly, Romania will need to raise the quality of its educational system, increase knowledge sharing between educational institutes and companies, and aligning the future needs of employers with the curriculums at schools and universities. Thirdly, Romania should improve the business environment by increasing support towards innovative research and development, easing access to finance, combat corruption in its public procurement and reduce administrative burdens on SME’s. Finally, a more obvious challenge for Romania is the improvement of its infrastructure to capitalize on its favorable geographical location. The NRCC contributes by playing an influential role addressing the interests of our large membership base towards the governmental sector and lobbying for real change. Instruments we use are the ‘Coalitia pentru Dezvoltarea Romaniei’, our extensive network of corporate and individual members and our member-driven sector-specific taskforces, which stimulates discussion between and active participation of our members. We actively facilitate and grow the trade between Romania and The Netherlands in many ways, attracting new investment to Romania, for example by outlining benefits and challenges on developing business in Romania in our ‘Nearshoring Guide’, issued once every 2 years.
5. In one sentence, how would you promote Romania to the Dutch companies?
Besides being a beautiful, friendly and safe country to visit, Dutch companies will find that Romania has a very favorable geographical location, lying at the crossroads between Europe and Asia, possesses highly skilled workers with excellent foreign language skills, low corporate taxes and low business operational costs, not only limited to salary.
6. Last but not least: do you have a special message for NRCC members?
It is an extraordinary privilege to act as President of this active and thriving community. For the support and ideas I have received from so many members of our chamber I am grateful. I look forward to get into an even more active interaction with all of you during our events to further improve your experience of being a NRCC member. At the start of this celebrative year for us, I invite all of you to participate in this year’s countless exciting events, grow our community by bringing in potential members, conduct business with each other and don’t forget to have fun!