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For the third year in a row, Innovation Origins has organised the annual Expat Top-10. Over the past years, Eindhoven has welcomed thousands of internationals, many of whom have done a great job for the city. Through this top-10 we say Thank You to all of them. This year’s theme of the Top-10 is ‘Jobs and Entrepreneurship’. Every day we offer you an interview with one of the winners. In this interview, you can read about how they ended up in Eindhoven, what they are doing in and for the city, and how they get around in their new community. Today: Ioana Iliescu-Jack. Here’s the whole series. 

“From the role of ‘big sister’, I slowly transitioned to that of a ‘guide’, then ‘facilitator. Now, I am working as an ‘intermediary.”

When did you arrive in Eindhoven? September 2005
What is your country of origin? Romania
Do you speak Dutch with the people in your neighborhood? “Ja, dat doe ik graag!”

What was the reason for you to move to Eindhoven?

“I came to Eindhoven on a student exchange scholarship, studying at TU/e in the Architectural Design and Engineering faculty. I had a scholarship for a year, and at the end of my scholarship, I decided to enroll in the master program (which had just become an international one, with courses in English) at ADE.”

What makes Eindhoven an attractive place to live and work in?

“Its scale and its atmosphere. The city has changed a lot in the past decade, and its international community has grown considerably, but it remains a cozy, green, calm place to live in, and a value that a lot.”

What should Eindhoven do to make itself a better place to live and work in, especially for expats?

“Eindhoven has already done a great deal of work to attract internationals and I am very impressed with the efforts made and the results it brought: the international school, TU/e, the Expat Center, the SGE, the Hub, HTC, etc. – they all create a solid infrastructure for the international community and help expats settle in very quickly. From here on, our work should focus on bringing the international and local communities together and exploring the ways in which we can be stronger together. I look forward to seeing in the next 10-15 years how the internationals and locals will bond and work together to make Eindhoven grow.”

Tech companies in and around Eindhoven have a huge shortage of employees. What could they do to attract more technicians from Romania?

“Perhaps going to the source is a good option: getting in touch with educational institutions that train specific specialties needed by employers and setting up internships or traineeships can become a good entry point. This can give companies the opportunity to get to know the future graduates and their abilities, and for students to familiarize themselves with what is available to them on the job market. There is a lot to be learned from the historic model Philips had established a century ago here in Eindhoven, that can be adapted to the global economy model.”

How would you describe your role within the Eindhoven community?

“From my second year of living in Eindhoven I had started “adopting” fellow international students who were just starting in Eindhoven, and throughout the years the role of “big sister” slowly transitioned to that of a “guide”, then “facilitator”. Since 2016, I am actively working as an “intermediary” for my clients, navigating the building industry complexities, as well as negotiating the challenges of managing renovation work. Most of my clients are internationals, and they are very happy to have someone in their corner, helping them tackle stressful and complex projects.”

What is it like to start your business in Eindhoven?

“I am now at my fourth go as an entrepreneur and I would say: “it depends!”. Paperwork-wise it is very straightforward: you make an appointment, you register, pay the fee and you get a KvK number! Easy peasy! Beyond this point, it all depends on your vision, your drive, your network and your resources, so try to build a network as soon as possible, and constantly workshop your ideas within that network. Eindhoven has room for everyone and everything, but you don’t get a “reserved” seat, therefore you do need to do some elbow work.”

What is the worst and the best thing about Eindhoven?

“Worst: I do feel that Eindhoven is sometimes a little isolated from the rest of the Netherlands. When I hear other Dutch people that live in the Randstad area talk about Eindhoven, I get the impression that the rest of the Netherlands has no idea what’s going on here. I felt this also in the business circles, where local technology startups from here get more attention from foreign investors than they do from Dutch investors, and to attract them, some start-ups decide to move to places like Rotterdam and Amsterdam. This is a loss to the region and to its economic health, with echoes in all the areas of local life (social, cultural, financial, etc.)

Best: Eindhoven is committed to do better, improve and grow. The way the city has branded itself in the recent years, constantly asking “how can we do better?”, being in touch with the communities – this all excellent work, and I hope it continues for the foreseeable future. Eindhoven is also very green (in more ways than one), which is a plus in my book, so I hope the city development rush will not come at the cost of our green spaces. I am confident the future plans for Eindhoven will only improve upon these qualities of the city, and I look forward to being a part of them.”