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g buildingpassion h The International Edition

1 Laura Stevens


Building Passion

The International Edition

Word of thanks from the Creative Director Laura Stevens For Samantha & Fergus

Do one thing every day that scares you Eleanor Roosevelt

What country are you from? Where were you born? What is your nationality? Where is your residency? What country do you call home? When someone asks me after we've spoken for a bit, "Where do you come from?", I'm not sure what to answer. I ask, "Do you mean, right now, or originally?" and am surprised when they are startled by the question. Sometimes it's obvious, my accent... but sometimes they just want to know how long my drive was that day. After living in The Netherlands for 28 years, I still am confronted with the fact that I wasn't born here. While trying to "categorize" the Building Passion women who come from all over, the world, I discovered this was virtually impossible. We are world citizens and feel at home where our heart is. The more I spoke with these fascinating women, the more I discovered about my own transition from America towards Holland. It's been a wonderful journey with you this year. I thank you all. We've done workshops together, brainstorming about the future of the building industry and about cultures. Your stories have taken me around the world at least a dozen times. The men and women who have given workshops, added the extra power we needed to strengthen our network by getting us thinking about the building industry in different ways. Discover the outcome of the workshops with this book in hand and learn, as I did, with pleasure! A special thanks to my sponsors and of course the rest of you who have joined in to get this party started! Thanks to the dedication of my team, the true Passion Builders, who believed in this project from the start: my dear friends: Anita, Joanne, Michelle, Carola, Ina and Ruud, my Building Passion task force: Anjelica, Sabine and Serena, my book and website designer Yolanda Huntelaar, my photographers Walther Pehlemann, Fred Tiggelaar, Guus J.Baks as well as the photographers who helped me from around the world while asking for nothing in return . And last but not least, thanks to my kids, Samantha and Fergus, who kept me pepped up even when it seemed like it was too large a project to manage on my own and to my partner and managing editor, Sjaak Fonville, who gave me the inspiration and knowledge to make this book even better than the first. I love you all. I think I can, so I do. So can we all



The female passion for international real estate It makes you wonder why this international publication of Building Passion is an initiative so desperately needed and so well appreciated. Are female professionals in the real estate business still “under cover” or can we see a significant turn around and notice that women are more visible than ever since the last couple of years? In various publications all over the world this big question is debated in many ways. Diversification in the workforce is an objective well acknowledged and well accepted in companies. If you have the brains and the drive to get the most out of your career, opportunities are there! The question is if women also grasp the challenges given to them. Do women indeed want to work full time? Can women combine a successful career with a fulfilling family life?  Individual choices, which have great impact on the diversification process in many countries. A great support for all of us working women is the chance to join various network groups. In the Netherlands dwire Dutch Women in Real Estate was founded some 3 years ago and it counts more than 455 members. The exchange of knowledge and best practices helps each of us to reach balance in our career between on the one hand the business aspect and on the other hand our personal life. The good thing is that men in real estate business also support these network groups and encourage their female colleagues to join. Enjoy this international edition of Building Passion, which has been published, with the international vision of Laura Stevens and the cooperation of many international women all over the world. It will show you as a reader that female passion for international real estate is something to be proud of! Marcia A.M. Schless, Owner Pink Line Communication Manager International Marketing & Communication Multi Corporation Boardmember uli Netherlands Boardmember  dwire Boardmember igc Real Estate table & Ladies table.



Anjelica Cicilia

Building Passion Woman of the Year 2009 It was an honor to win the Building Passion Woman of the Year Award. Mostly because it was such a passionate project. Some call it an achievement, but it’s just work right? I was born on Bonaire and moved to Holland in 1999 to study Urban Design at the University of Technology in Delft. I already spoke the Dutch language so I only had to deal with the cultural differences. I didn’t have a problem with the straight forwardness of the Dutch. What I had to get used to was the diplomacy that came with it. Why does everything have to be poldered? On my first day at the University I got in a discussion with one of the professors. Having just obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Construction and (Civil) Engineering, it was impossible for me to understand conceptual design. After a while developing concepts became a standard part of my design approach. Maybe I just did it to get a higher grade. But maybe after a while I just understood what he had meant. Believe in yourself and always follow your gut. Winning the Award has brought me a lot of good things. It has been a wonderful journey so far but I know it hasn’t ended yet. There is still a lot to accomplish. Tomorrow there will be other greater challenges. I can’t wait! Here they are: the new Building Passion women of The International Edition. I'm very excited to see what their future will bring. Just as I have experienced the benefits of the cultural differences, I believe these women can provide a valuable contribution to our building society. This book is the result of Laura’s passion and mission to make these women visible.



Laura Alvarez

Deputy Director Laura Alvarez Architecture I think the greatest satisfaction we can have as architects is to see that people enjoy the space you design for them. This is actually our mission: to create spaces for people. Not so long ago, I was invited to the opening of La Llotja, the first project built in Spain by Mecanoo, a company I had the pleasure to work for before starting on my own. All authorities were present. It was so wonderful to hear the emotional words of the mayor referring to the building! We could feel his pride, his love and commitment to that building and I guess that there is no way to be better paid as an architect than experiencing something similar to this. My office is very young so we haven’t completed any building yet but it will happen soon and I hope that the people who will use it will be also very proud of it.



Janet Carla Catrin André

Stations Architect, dhv/npc Share the invitation of architecture I love and believe in architecture. It creates an intense joy in the experience. Architecture combines all the different aspects that I need for a good life. Growing up in Sweden has given me a sense of value and responsibility for our surroundings which I want to protect and preserve for the future. Design is part of this and for me a way to be aware of what I use and which function I use it for. Practical and beautiful products have a longer life and bring more joy in our everyday life as well as making the ordinary extraordinary!   Having the privilege to follow your own recipe and using the most beautiful products to create something tasteful in more than one way, is an addiction that I can’t and won’t ever give up.   Space, location, people, program, innovation, materials and a good hunch are a few of the ingredients that give me the input to feel which solution is mature for the moment and of course I always keep a number of other possibilities up my sleeve to surprise with.   It’s like fresh spinach and asparagus risotto, a mega intense, lush green which surprises you and makes you believe that you even can taste the color with our eyes shut. This is a quality I seek to realize in my work.   Living and working in the Netherlands has made me a true European. The will of the Dutch to be an outspoken part of our European community has inspired me to also take on this part. I have learned to give my opinion while allowing the space to grow and my outspokenness grow with me. In this small country the space is not always found in the surroundings but more in the openness of speech.   Invite architecture to all of your senses and don’t’ judge it without giving yourself the full opportunity to enjoy it.  Sometimes it’s very complex but quite often, it’s just simplicity itself.



Lydia Albinus

Owner Stadem bv Indonesia is my native country, but I came to the Netherlands when I was 1,5 years old. Very unlike the typical Indonesian traits like being easy or even considered lazy, I’m actually quite the opposite. I love the energy of balancing the high wire between the city government administration and the board members, finding that synthesis of the social, political and official requirements. As process manager with major urban developments for the City of Ede, I’m always finding this balance. I’m good at what I do and I’ve done this as an external bureau for the past 17 years! It’s important not to be a threat to the men in the business and let them see your work ethics naturally. I help them make development something we can be proud of. 'No more bad building habits allowed!'



Julie Ascoop

Leader of the maritime group at Arup in Ireland From Civil Engineering in Delft to Wave Energy in Ireland, my work has taken me to what I am passionate about: our relationship with the sea. After working for BAM as a project organizer on the Storm Surge Barrier in Ramspol, I moved to Ireland to work as a project manager on various maritime projects, such as the construction of a new container terminal in Dublin Port. I love working with all sorts of different people and running a building site is really the best project management experience you can get. (On the same day you could be agreeing the contract sum with the client and settling a dispute with the steel fixers.) Ireland has won my heart with its kind people, beautiful mountains and coastline. I love hillwalking and sailing, and in Dublin both are on my doorstep. (In the summer there is nothing better after work than the evening sailing races in Dublin Bay.) I moved to work for Arup a number of years ago, where I lead the maritime engineering group in Ireland. Our team provides a wide range of engineering services such as the design of ports, harbors, coastal protection and anything else to do with the water. Being an engineer trained in the Netherlands is certainly an advantage in my work! The recent economic downturn in Ireland has really focused us on utilizing the fantastic ocean resources around the coast of Ireland. Arup are currently assisting the Irish government with the development of a ‘Wave Energy Test Site’ of the West coast of Ireland, the location of the largest waves in Europe. As project manager for this project, I’m hoping to be part of fantastic new opportunities for this green island.



Pnina Avidar

Co-director 12PM – Architecture (fyeo. – as clear as midday) ‘Turn your face to the sun and the shadow fall behind you’ Maori proverb Come to think of it, my ability to operate in a ‘foreign’ culture relates to the understanding of the shadows cast by cultural differences. Like no other physical phenomena the shadow indicates a geographical location in the world. It is the evidence of a relation that determines an explicit object in space during a specific season and time of the day. It is the evidence for one’s existence and position between heaven and earth.  Turning to the sun, knowing my shade falls behind me, is knowledge gained by experience. It is a universal knowledge, a commonplace. However, only the action of turning towards the sun affects my ability to share, adapt, function and communicate this knowledge. With no shadow of a doubt, only this deed leads me to an insight - enabling me to manage the shadows thrown by cultural differences. Architecture, within this context, perceived as an organizing spatial discipline, addresses cultural shadows by incorporating certain characteristics into the design. A space can, apparently, be considered as hierarchal - non-hierarchal, open - close, public - private, formal - informal, cozy - estranged, accessible – secluded, etc.; and therefore represents cultural attitudes and social behavior codes. My gaze towards the sun defines my ‘foreignness’. The Maori proverb combines Dutch pragmatism and the ability to state the obvious; simulta­ neously it requires a vision, a need to decipher ‘reality’ and the search for other layers of meaning, an attitude I hope to have inherited from my sunny homeland and my Jewish culture.



Morag Beers BS c MRIC S

Director, Business Development & Investor Relations Composition Capital Partners, Amsterdam & Hong Kong A career in creating real estate is complex and offers an exciting range of diverse activities. My wardrobe includes steel toe-capped boots, sharp business suits and the odd cocktail dress: I love it. My education and training was typical of that in the structured UK industry: real estate at university leading to a professional qualification from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (rics). The Netherlands offers much freer access and maneuverability within the industry, broadening the range of people active in it. This has made me more open-minded and more conscious of my own broader capacities and interests. Given my global remit, being British and based in The Netherlands is an advantageous position: viewing the world from another’s perspective is a valuable asset that has removed many old built-in prejudices. Some habits are hard to break. My professional background is about complying with standards, exceeding targets and voluntarily opting-out of European working time regulations. I struggle to come to work in jeans, to take a proper lunch break and to leave work on time. I am also (very happily) conditioned to working fulltime, even with children. Not quite the Dutch way, but when working in a multi-cultural situation, there is never just one way. Personal qualities of honesty and respect for others fit well in the international market and can overcome less relevant cultural differences.



Willemijn Berenschot

Dutch lawyer in France, associated with the Italian law firm Pontecorvi Mannaerts & Triboldi After graduation I decided to move to Italy in order to broaden my cultural horizon. Having spent six years in Italy, I then moved to Bordeaux, France, to expand my career possibilities. Italian and French business cultures are very similar. Both are strongly characterized by good manners. However, although Italians prefer the establishment of personal relationships over directly going down to business, the French are more straight to the point and can easily feel annoyed by unsolicited chatting. During my work, I facilitate legal procedures that involve assisting clients overcome linguistic, professional and cultural differences, such as the one mentioned above, while combining Dutch efficiency, the Italian grace of dealing with people and situations and French Cartesianism. One of my more memorable “cultural clash� cases involved the purchase, by a Dutchman, of property in the Maremma area of Tuscany, from twentyone heirs of diverse Italian families. After completing complex and time consuming negotiations with representatives of the heirs, the client con­ sidered that the execution of the deed was merely a formality. However, when the buyer found himself in a small and steamy meeting room in the office of the civil law notary, all twenty-one heirs felt they had to develop, as Italian custom dictates, a personal relationship with the buyer in order to expedite the purchase. Furthermore, Italian civil law notaries do not keep the purchase price in escrow and, therefore, the buyer had to pass each of them a personal cheque to the value of a proportional amount of the purchase price.



Saskia van Bohemen

Real Estate Developer, TCN Passion for solution In my work as a real estate developer I have a passion for solutions. The Dutch are good at talking about all their problems, which is not an appropriate way of expressing yourself especially in Anglo-Saxon countries. TCN used to be part of the Trammell Crow Company, which is an inter­national company with its headquarters in Dallas Texas. They were always put off when we presented our information too negatively and started our sentence with: “the problem in this project is…..” Our approach was all wrong!  I think I have adopted this positive way of thinking from my American colleagues: always come up with solutions, think ahead, and look for the potentials in your projects.  Nowadays I see it as a sport and obligation to train and coach my colleagues to use this approach as well; it brings more progress in your projects and company. I have experienced that you achieve more in life with a positive mind set, by being goal driven and by looking for the opportunities instead of the pitfalls. The answer is always yes, just listen carefully: “What is the question?”



Mohini Boparai

Director, Boparai Architectural Services NL Going 'home' meant waking up and learning how to use the means at hand to my advantage. Growing up in The Netherlands and going to India to open an office was a wake-up process in itself. You would think that, as I have been raised by parents from India, I would be conditioned to the culture there. I remember the day I scheduled appointments every hour to interview candidates to join my new team. From the 8 appointments 4 showed up. I wasted half a day waiting…Today I schedule in 4 appointments every hour and on a bad day perhaps only one may show up but I am never left waiting. I have tried to harness the indomitable Indian work spirit to deliver excellence in service to our Dutch clients on an unprecedented timetable while holding normal Dutch office hours. This is not always customary in India but is naturally happily embraced. At the same time I am aware that empowering more women in a (worldwide) male dominated profession is very important. In our office more than half of the team is female. My Indian team was naturally forced to learn about our completely ‘un­ usual’ Dutch building methods in order to be able to draft for Holland. This has helped them further their personal development to the extent that they are one step ahead and ready for where India is going in the future. My sister Neelu, who works in the Netherlands as an architect, has also been a huge influence. We have unintentionally created a synergy between our two environments. My Dutch clients see me as an Indian architect who brings them the exotic stories and refreshing ideas. My team in India sees me as Dutch. My sister and I have diverse environments and we are able to use our diverse backgrounds to accentuate our differences or build on our similarities, as the situation may demand. A wise man once said: “When in Rome, do as the Romans” My experience has taught me the importance of embracing what is at hand and turning certain aspects to my advantage. At the same time I feel that I give back to India that what I have gained from my Dutch background.



Neelu Boparai

Director, Boparai Associates bv Growing up with a 'functional mindset' We grew up with the old masters of architecture, traveling to see Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier. Doing this taught us that architecture must speak for itself. Finding the design that makes perfect sense without the huge philosophy is a part of our functional mindset which we have learned to appreciate. My sister and I have an unintentional and synergetic relationship. India cannot be compared with Holland. Therefore our diverse backgrounds (Indian/Dutch) cause us to understand the environments that we work and live in so that we can service them in the most effective way. Design can be a mixture of spiritual, highty flighty or down to earth. Not everything is as it seems from the outside and not all Indian architecture is full of philosophy. I choose the aspects from the various cultures and make a new “mindset” to fit the requirements. It’s important for me as an architect to find the obvious in that what seems to be a complex place. Once that is found, intuition will cause users of a building to use it well. Good use will lead to a long lifespan and, to complete the circle, to a building’s reincarnation through transformation. My architecture is like how I live my life – Uncomplicated.



Femke Borst

Lawyer/partner at Six Advocaten Constructive law As a real estate lawyer, helping clients to realize their projects while improving the end result is what I love about my job. I enjoy seeing the actual (re)足developments and buildings that I have advised on or went to court for. It makes me feel part of the bigger picture. If a client allows me to get involved early in the game and shares his plans and the paths through which he intends to achieve his objective, I am often able to avoid problems and thus save money. I believe and know, law can be constructive to the process. Being a Dutch real estate lawyer, my work solely involves Dutch real estate. Having lived in New York for a while and being married to an Englishman, English is second nature to me. Perhaps through that I have acquired quite a few English and American clients. Working with and on behalf of people from another culture makes my work all the more interesting. It takes that little extra, that necessary detachment from your own assumptions, to be able to fully understand what a client requires. No matter which nationality, many see the legal side of matters as an obstruction to getting things done. I try to show my clients it does not have to be that way. A quick brainstorm on legal consequences prior to taking any action can save expensive and unnecessary legal procedures down the road and thus paving the way towards a solid and legally sound business deal.



Heidi (H.M.J.W.) de Bruin

SMP, DipM, FCIM , Chartered Marketer Managing Director Europe – TR ADEPAQ:TRM

Trade and Risk Management Software for the Metals and Steel Industry 'Building a solid client base as international software supplier to the global commodity trading industry in the steel and metals sector, is as hard as steel itself.   Believe in it, go for it, and get it!'. Last year I woke up in Paris and went to sleep in New York City. Looking around in my hotel room I get immediately confronted with the business I am in. Opening the curtains which are on a metal rail, taking a shower where the water comes out of the metal shower head, opening the door with the handle made out of metal, to take a ‘bon petit déjeuner francais’  with its great variety of baguettes and French cheeses which are served in a stainless steel basket… Yeah, I’m positive this is the right business to be in. This is what my passion is, this is my deeper love. It’s everywhere… A bit later I enter the Board Roam of a huge player in the commodity trading industry who produces, blends and trades LME (London Metal Exchange) metals for the building industry. The French always know better, “ils ont toujours vrai!” Metal traders take enormous risks when not having the right risk management software in place. Let’s get the famous signature under my contract now…. Getting off the KL 643 at JFK New York City later that day I want to go to straight to bed; however, a business relation is waiting. Turning my mind from “they always know better”, into “everything is over the top”. Dinner is in one of my favorite restaurants in Manhattan with a view of the incredible Brooklyn Bridge. That’s architecture over the top, imagine the view by night!   Can’t wait to be back in Hong Kong soon where I deal with operational risks such as kindly thanking my business partners for offering me parts of snakes and dogs as a delicate lunch… culture, it’s what you think it is. C’est la vie, c’est ma vie…..Et je l’aime tellement….



Marsha van Buitenen Concept Developer

What does the built environment do for you? Do you notice it, or is it perhaps just there? For me the built environment facilitates ‘just being’. It does not impose on you, it does not direct you and it lets you be whoever you are. It facilitates your life and makes you feel comfortable. Far too often people feel out of place. My wish is to create places that have a positive impact on your everyday life. It helps you lead your life the way you want to and perhaps it even helps you make it that little bit better.   Contradictions are what my international life has brought me. It has given me a better understanding of people and more respect for the differences we have. But it has also given much frustration. By mixing and taking something from different cultures you end up with an unusual mixture that doesn’t really fit anywhere.   Being very Dutch and speaking your mind, sometimes bluntly, or being treated as a secondary person only because you are a woman, has made me want to prove myself so much more. Having a lack of respect for authority ‘because it is authority’, whilst still believing in a respectable distance in relationships. Contradictions keep on turning up.   The feeling of not belonging, of not fitting, is sometimes difficult. I am not fully (culturally) Dutch, nor am I a foreigner. My building passion for creating spaces that will let you ‘just be’ is related to this, creating that sense of belonging.



Helena Casanova

Architect, casanova+hernandez architecten Architecture is my passion.   My relationship with architecture started 35 years ago when as a child I used to spend long hours drawing plans on scale of my dream houses. Since that time I have always felt the power of creativity with space.   In my years of studying at the University of Madrid I followed a very strict education based on a balanced combination of art and technique, while at the same time working in order to get a solid background. Next, I spent some years living, studying and working in Italy, Belgium and Germany, before establishing myself definitely in The Netherlands in 1999.   From each country I have taken the best of the working process for my own personal and professional development. From Spain I have taken the enormous creativity and the capacity of improvising in order to give proper quick and efficient answers to problems. From Italy I took the feeling for proportions and materials, and from Germany the accuracy and care for architectural details.   Due to my multicultural background I have learned to remain open to the voices of different people, from specialists and clients, still never forgetting the main goal of my work: to offer my professional experience and go beyond the mere solving of functional problems so that I can create special architecture even with minimum resources. I have been doing that since I founded my own company together with my partner in 2001, when we started developing architectural, urban planning and landscape projects in The Netherlands and abroad.   Architecture has to respond to human needs, based on human scale. Architecture has to create a good relationship with the surroundings, with the urban scale, and the landscape around it.   Architecture has to be capable of creating emotions.



Lana du Croq

Architect, Architectenbureau Ellerman, Lucas, van Vugt

From clash to combination; the meeting of South African and Dutch culture.


As a South African in Holland I’m still from time to time confronted with what I feel as brashness, which is actually just efficiency. I remember trying to make a withdrawal from the bank when I first got here from South Africa. I approached the counter and greeted the cashier with a warm and friendly hallo. She suspiciously looked at me and rudely asked me what I wanted. Insulted, I demanded to make a withdrawal, NOW! The woman’s whole posture changed. She sat up straight, looked at me, smiled and said ‘certainly madam, how much would you like to take out?’   Since then I have come to realize that most people do appreciate small talk most of the time, but that sometimes good old Dutch straight talk is more appropriate.  South Africans have a rather poetic way of looking at architecture, much more so than the Dutch. For example, the phrase ‘desire line’ could be used to explain the introduction of a bridge or road connection between a well functioning part of a city and a designated area of intended re-gentrification. Most memorable was when I used whole wheat bread as a simile for the desired look in brickwork in a plan.   As a child of the apartheid era. I was brought up with the understanding that rules are made to restrict and that they should be contested and if possible broken. I was also lucky enough to be at the university when the “New South Africa” was formed, a time when the country rewrote the rules. Nothing was a given, everything had to be tested to define its value. Not being able to blindly accept programs of requirements, building regulations or other boundaries, the ability to analyze the situation and formulate the right question has been one of the biggest assets that I have been able to adapt to the Netherlands. I have found that asking questions like, ‘Why has such a rule been formed?’, or ‘What is really required?’ often results in a completely different solution that is closer to the wishes of a client than otherwise would have been by just following the regulations. In Africa labor is cheap while at the same time inventive and often skilled with the knowledge of traditional craft and building techniques. This allows for an architecture where building and decoration are entwined with each other. Unique, hand made, low-tech/high-labor intensive buildings. However, in Holland we make high-tech/ low-labor intensive buildings. A combination of both cultures has been the logical result. By using the African techniques as an inspiration and replacing the manual labor with digital and mechanical technology, a new craftsmanship can be developed. Dutch fashion and product designers have already taken steps in this direction. We can use the advancement in digital technology and the possibility to digitally control industrial machines and processes to create beautifully decorative buildings. Thus moving from culture clash to culture combination, as a true South African Dutch architect.


Aglaée Degros

Co-founder (with Stefan Bendiks) of the urban planning practice Artgineering and visiting Professor of Urban Planning at the Vienna University of Technology Infrastructural lace making Belgium is best known for its chocolate and its French fries, but lace is also a famous Belgian product. The very popular chocolate and French fries can be found on almost every street corner in Belgium, but lace is often harder to come by. Thanks to this book you’ll discover a reference for lace making within the building field. I was born in Leuven, Belgium, where today you will still find lace makers winding bobbins of thread on their cushions, to create complete pieces of lacework. This must be where my approach to infrastructure came from. It’s my passion to wind paths, roads, tracks and land together to make something completely coherent. Just like lace making, it’s a work of art that is all about the nuances and finer details. The love to interlace-build and not simply building environment with the infrastructure is something that can only result from meticulous analysis of the current circumstances of physical landscape as well as non physical sociological landscapes. Even if it is quite old fashioned, without lacework we would not have haute couture!



Jeannette Dijkman

Co-founder and publisher Real Estate Publishers (REP) I enjoy developing new things. As a publisher, I get involved and when producing English-language books about international institutional real estate and finances, it becomes quite interesting. I am curious about other countries and cultures. With the Italians you have a different manner of doing business than with a German, a Brit, or a Turk. These differences in culture and experience make my job so multifaceted and rewarding; you soon forget about the stress that goes along with it. With pleasure I think back on the start of our first Turkish book. There was great excitement in being a pioneer in an entirely new market, starting to make that market comprehensible for others. Turkey, with its warm and hospitable people, provides a wonderful starting point. It’s all about the organization. The art of putting together good teams and making a high-quality product from the beginning to end makes it exciting and fun.  I remember our first European yearbook in 2004. It seemed like a ‘mission impossible.’  Europe with all its different languages, cultures and customs seemed enormous in size and incompressible in scope. But I soon found out that next to all of the differences, there are many similarities between these wonderful people. Embrace both, as both are equally important. Pride for their country and culture make people eager to participate.  With every new publication, the world becomes more one workd.  It feels like an unexplored journey: you don’t know where you will end up. Going on this journey has become my passion.



Lilian ter Doest

Specialist Green Finance, ABN AMRO Groenbank Early in 2007, our daughter Anna, then three years old, was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome, and we learned she would be profoundly disabled for the rest of her life. Her diagnosis really brought home to me that I want to make some sort of positive contribution to the world we live in – however modest. I want to help create a world that doesn’t shun financial gain, but marries it with corporate responsibility. I don’t believe in chance and when a few weeks later a vacancy opened up at Fortis Groenbank (now ABN AMRO Groenbank), I jumped at this perfect opportunity. At the time, sustainable real estate did not rank very high on anyone’s agenda, not the government’s, not investors’ and not even tenants’. Even in 2007, real estate was widely known to hold out major environmental gains. How times have changed! The biggest culture change of the past couple of years hasn’t been within myself, but within the domestic and international property sector at large. Sustainability has become par for the course. Even when the business case poses financial challenges, the property sector will need to do much more to share expertise at both the sustainable and financial ends, and observe best practices. I enjoy doing my bit in all of this: after all, the most sustainable type of energy is the one we generate ourselves and which inspires ideas we can share with others!




Laura Stevens

Creator, author & Leading Lady Building Passion Balance A ‘balancist’ is someone who seeks balance in every facet of life. Creating and recreating balance can be a conscious choice. Sometimes it’s as simple as finding the right piece of the puzzle. It finally fits. There aren’t enough women in top positions in the building field. Anyone who says there already is a healthy balance, simply doesn’t have a clue. For those who believe it’s not a necessity, I dare you to read on. Mixed teams working side by side have better results and improve the strengths of these teams as balance is achieved.I’m not a feminist, I’m a balancist. Diversity is a means to survival and a healthy recipe towards success. The first book, Building Passion - Sterke vrouwen in de bouw was completed in December 2009. Women who have an extraordinary passion for their work in the building business told us about their drive to being successful. The energy they created touched each and every one of us connected to the book. ‘Building Passion’ was born from the goal to make the women working in the building and real estate field more visible. The top 2 level layers of decision makers are desperately in need of qualified women. The second book, ‘Building Passion – The International Edition’ elaborates on the cultural intervention we experience while working in countries other than where we were born. Finding a balance was more extreme for these ladies and that extra challenge of understanding each other was added. Working in different cultures has changed their lives. The greatest common deno­minator of these cultural changes is that we understand better the different interpretations of what we say and do. When we stop and really try to listen to what our building partners need, synergy of this cultural cooperation creates a brilliant result. We see here Dutch women working abroad in fields of architectural and urban design, construction and real estate, or foreign women building their careers in the Netherlands. How do they deal with cultural differences in business? What added value do these cultural differences offer? Our quest is – again – to ask the reader the following questions: “What will I do to help more women to our top? What am I going to do to enrich our company with the diversity of culture and new approaches? Do I believe in this better balance? And, indeed so, how will I make my influence be heard?” Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life. Confucius

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Building Passion: Sterke Vrouwen in de Bouw  

Het boek Building Passion - Sterke vrouwen in de bouw is een verkorte weergave van de verschillende uitspraken van de 100 + 1 Building Passi...