What path has your career taken?
I studied marketing in Belgium and had a hotel school background, which led me to decide to start my career at the W hotel in Amsterdam as Marketing and Events Intern. After my internship I decided to stay in Amsterdam and got a job as Online Marketeer at Appical, which wasn’t really my thing. Luckily around this time Appical wanted to host an event for its customers and prospects, which was exactly what I was looking for.
I thought it would be fun to host a conference for 75 HR representatives. After the first email I sent out, which essentially only had our logo on it and said ‘stay tuned’, we already had over 400 interested, which blew me away... clearly, the HR industry was in need of a trendier conference like Onboard.Amsterdam. After this event which in the end sold 444 tickets, the CEO came up to me and told me he wanted me to host this event again, but to make it twice as big, which is how we went from 1 stage to 3, and almost 1000 tickets sold the next year. I then introduced the idea of brand ambassadors, to expand our network and reach even more people. After this big success, I was asked to move the event internationally, successfully bringing Onboard to London this past summer, to now even considering moving further overseas, to Miami or Tel Aviv. Right now I am solely responsible for organising the Onboard conferences and help expand it on a global scale.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start their own conference or event?
I would say the most important thing is to be unique and have people leave the event with a wow-feeling, not just focus on the content but create an experience. For example, we will have a silent disco this year, and last year we had acrobats, just to enhance the experience and create a fun networking event. When starting to organize any event it’s very important to have a good overview of your tasks, be on time with everything and have all your to-dos nicely in order. I would also advise people not to be afraid to ask colleagues for help and don’t be afraid to say no.
What’s a life-changing song, film, event or book you’d like to recommend to others?
The concert of Cher that I went to last month! She is 73 years and still performs like she is 40 or so. She started the concert by asking “what is your granny doing tonight”. I love life and I am not afraid to live it. Always feel the age you want to feel and don’t get stuck on a number. A lot of people use it as an excuse to not go out or do something crazy. Live life like it’s your last.
What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?
I have quite a few pieces of advice to my 20-year old self. Don’t be afraid to be your crazy happy self and don’t be insecure about it, if people don’t like you or respect you it’s their loss! Always believe in yourself and just keep doing what you’re doing. When I started at Appical, I was rather shy and didn’t stand up for myself, now I say how it is and am not afraid to be myself and make myself heard.
What does home mean to you?
For me, home is when I have the people that I love around me. I now live with one of my best friends from back home in Belgium (Steffie, who works at Zoku btw ;)), which means I always have a piece of home with me. Also, wherever I have my own bed.. who can resist jumping into bed as soon as they get home?
If you could pick one project to work on for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Is it selfish to say.. myself? I want to work on myself forever. You’re never perfect, and now that I’m 25, I see how I’ve grown in the past years, now having my first proper job, I just see myself grow so much. I want to continue to work on myself in terms of not only how I get on with other people but also very importantly, how I get on with myself, and with my own thoughts. This is something people shouldn’t overlook, the importance of being happy as yourself and being with yourself.