Folkert Huysinga had been responsible for purchasing and new venture integration at Philips for 10 years when he decided to completely change course and try something new. He started his own business as a change management coach and trainer. His company, called HeartTarget, is located on the smartest square kilometer in Europe: The High Tech Campus (HTC).
His role on the campus involves more than his work at HeartTarget, however. “In life, you’re constantly formed by what you experience,” says Folkert. “And you can choose whether you stand still, or whether you learn and grow from those experiences, both positive and negative. I decided to delve deeper into what makes people happy. I had the chance to speak to Leo Bormans, author of The World Book of Happiness, at a lecture he gave. My most important question to him was, ‘how do I spread more happiness at the High Tech Campus?’ It’s known to be a pretty happy place in Eindhoven, but I still felt that something was missing. He immediately asked me if I wanted to be the ‘happiness ambassador’ for the campus. With 88 different nationalities in 150 different companies and a total of 10,000 people on the campus, this is a huge task, but definitely a rewarding one.”
Wealth of culture
The High Tech Campus presents itself as an open ecosystem, focused on the development of technical innovations. People on the campus don’t easily drop into each others’ offices “just for a chat”, which makes it difficult to meet people and exchange both personal and technical experience. That’s why Folkert is focusing entirely on the “human” factor. “In order to develop our ecosystem further, I founded the Inspiration Center,” he explains. “This was a first step in trying to contribute to people’s happiness by connecting them – especially the expats. That’s a broad goal, so I’m really trying to pioneer my way here. Music often works well, but the flashmob I organized with PopEi and The Moods wasn’t a big hit like we expected. There are a lot of introverts here. But the richness of culture is huge, so I hope to be able to develop a physical place on the campus that makes it easier to bring people together. Something approachable and relaxed. Fortunately I’m gathering more and more support – people realize that the social side reinforces the technical side.”
Everything comes from people
For many Eindhoveners, “expat” remains an elusive concept. It is indeed an elusive concept, because each expat is a different person. The common denominator is that they were flown in to the region for their knowledge and skills, often bringing their families with them. After that, you just have to settle in to a new city and find your personal niche. According to Folkert, helping to facilitate this process helps everyone in the long run. “People experience Dutch people as being very direct. A deal is a deal, and you’re expected to do everything on time. We’re not afraid to say exactly how things stand. But of course not every Dutch person is a rude jerk who drinks milk and eats cheese sandwiches at precisely 12 o’clock every day. When I came to live in Eindhoven in 2005, I noticed that the city really wasn’t ready for expats. Very little was going on in English and there were hardly any initiatives for expats to get involved with. That’s changed dramatically over the past decade. The arrival of the HUB for expats has been really good and I support it via the High Tech Campus. Always see things from the positive side, and if someone is stuck, show them the bright spots on the horizon and help them to zoom in on those. The three pillars of the city – design, technology and knowledge – all come from people. Enable them to find their strength and give them the tools to do something with it. Then, you’re enriching each other.”
As happiness ambassador, Folkert hopes that by making small steps, the personal environment at the High Tech Campus will continue to develop positively. He sees himself as a community manager who both develops new plans and brings more life to existing initiatives. If you have questions, need help with something, or if you have a great idea, don’t hesitate to contact him. He can’t and won’t do this alone, because being happy by yourself is beautiful, but being happy together is much, much better.
Dutch Happiness Week is from March 13 to 17 in Eindhoven. In the weeks leading up to March 13, e52 is producing a series of articles that focus on the different faces of happiness.
Become a member!
On Innovation Origins you can read the latest news about the world of innovation every day. We want to keep it that way, but we can't do it alone! Are you enjoying our articles and would you like to support independent journalism? Become a member and read our stories guaranteed ad-free.