Thought Leadership

The inside story of Amsterdam

Across the industry creative people are choosing change, so we got the inside track on the ups and downs of relocating from TBWA\NEBOKO.

Nicola Kemp

Editorial Director


We have all read the headlines on ‘The Great Resignation’ and the ‘War For Talent’. Headlines which reflect the reality that across the industry people are choosing change. A change which is opening the doors for a new generation of creatives to challenge the notion that ‘when you are tired of London, (or São Paulo) you are tired of life’. (Although, granted after 18 months of working from home, you may at least be tired by the prospect of returning to the commute. 

With this in mind we talked to Geoff Coyle, Managing Director TBWA\NEBOKO and Juliette Hammana, People and Culture Counsellor about bringing new talent from all over the world and the opportunities of relocation. We also heard first-hand from those who have made the leap; Camila Shoji, one of the company’s Creative Art Directors, who has recently moved from São Paulo, provided their perspective.

Q: What opportunities do you think Amsterdam offers?

Geoff Opportunities are endless for talented creative minds and souls. If you can imagine it, you can definitely conceive it in Amsterdam. A city that is refreshingly open and always welcoming for talent thinking about a move or new beginning. Amsterdam merits being a creative capital in Europe given the vast number of creative companies, myriad of industries, and dazzling Dutch and international minds that co-exist and create together in the city.

Juliette Progression – the Dutch tend to be quite direct people, so you know what people think straight away instead of having to spend time second guessing what people ‘really think’. Dutch organisations are more likely to be flat; meaning that at a junior or mid-level you’re definitely able to say what you think, be heard and are involved in processes.

Q: Does Amsterdam offer more work/life balance than other cities?

Geoff Amsterdam is renowned for it. I would even flip it and say Amsterdam is known for its life/work balance. The Dutch culture embraces a better life/work balance and supports you in achieving that versus bigger cities where work and commuting for work tend to dominate your week. Although in the last 18 months no matter where you worked the balance of work and life was turned upside-down due to the pandemic. We are finally starting to see people in person again which is refreshing, and much needed versus talking heads via Teams or Zoom calls.

Camila Amsterdam is a big city inside a small village, you can do work on a global scale while having a "small town" quality of life. People from everywhere in the world, every kind of niche shop you can think of, incredible nightlife and scenic views all over everywhere you look. So yes, every little stroll or bike ride home you get the energy you need for another day of work.

Q: Does Amsterdam focus more on inclusion than cities?

Geoff Amsterdam feels very inclusive given its openness, equal opportunities, and over 185 different nationalities living in the city. I even read that the City of Amsterdam doesn't have a policy on diversity: "Our diversity is our greatest strength. ...That's why Amsterdam's policy is not focused on diversity, but on inclusion. It's about ensuring that all Amsterdammers can participate in our city and that no one is excluded or made to feel like an outsider".

Q: Has the pandemic made talent (i.e. people!) reassess their priorities and focus more on the conditions they need to be creative?

Geoff Absolutely. Many people have reassessed where they create and for who? We are seeing much more interest in talent wanting to move to Amsterdam from all over the world including the UK, Europe, US, Asia/Pacific, and Latin America to create and play on global projects. Amsterdam's creative energy is very appealing.

Q: When you are tired of London (or São Paulo) - you are tired of life - discuss!

Camila It's quite tricky to answer that one! I've always wanted to take my career abroad to do work on a worldwide scale and when Amsterdam popped up as an option I didn't think twice. I had never imagined myself living in a city where you could be anywhere in a 15 minute bike ride but Amsterdam really stole my heart. Even though it's pretty small in size you have access to everything as the big world capital that it is.

Q: What made you decide to make the leap to Amsterdam

Camila Living in a city rich in culture and working with expats from all over the world in global campaigns for recognized and cool brands. Food is also a big part of my life outside of work and, even though Amsterdam's reputation on food is not the best, the scene in the city is really picking up with new very good restaurants, wine bars and cafés opening up everyday.

Q: What would be your advice to people thinking about a re-location?

Geoff Talk with as many Amsterdammers in your network as possible to get a local view or people that have experienced the city. If you are reasonably close in Europe then book a weekend and walk the streets and absorb the city whilst building your own reference points. Sites like provide amazing resources to inform you on city living, business as well as what the city offers and answers most key questions. Failing that, roll the dice - you won't be disappointed.

Camila For creatives: give your book a nice new face and go after the agencies that interest you, talk to recruiters, add people on LinkedIn and be ready for your life to turn upside down, in a good way :)

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