London calling

The travel virus caught me early: I left for Hobart, Australia for a year when I was 16. Living there, I discovered how much bigger the world was than the small village I grew up in in the Eastern part of Groningen in the Netherlands – even if my life there already gave me a relatively wide view of the world.

Since then, I lived in Haenosaki (a small village in Nagasaki-prefecture in Japan), in Osaka, in Tokyo. I’ve travelled, mostly in Europe and Asia, seeing some unique and fascinating parts of this world.

Just last year, I spent a month in Shanghai: that trip started out with the same question that is now the trigger for this post:

In which city do you want to temporarily live and work?

At that time I was looking for somewhere in China. I chose Shanghai.

This time, Europe. Where would I go?

Paris is the European city that I visit most often. For me, it is a city to relax, to see friends, to enjoy good food and wine and to explore an attractive, slightly ‘exotic’, always interesting city. But, even if I just recently visited for a conference at the OECD, it is not the city I would chose to spend time in when it comes to further professional development.

For that, there’s only one place in Europe I would chose: London.

London attracts because it’s a place that has so much of what I love in cities: diversity in people, places, events; variety in neighbourhoods; amazing museums and culture; and plenty more to discover. But professionally, it is probably the the place to be in Europe in my field.

London as a sustainability hub?

While there are conferences on responsible business and sustainability across Europe regularly, London seems to be the host of many of these with the largest concentrations of top business names speaking ánd attending. It is also a city that is home to a range of renowned Asia & CSR consultancies and think tanks, such as the Institute for Human Rights and Business and related events coming out of such institutions.

From a network perspective, being part of this community for a few weeks or months would be a great opportunity to expand my network and ability to access expertise and knowledge on responsible business in Asia. That would enable me to work more effectively for my clients on these topics.

I would also use the time in the city to get answers to two questions: 1) how do international businesses operating from the UK integrate responsible business conduct in their Asia business operations and 2) how can developments in the field of responsible business and sustainability complement developments in the Netherlands, especially where there are opportunities to combine resources and expertise on responsible business conduct in Asia for European businesses?

London as network

London is a city attracting many people from across the world, including Japanese and Chinese businesses and others. What better way to find local contacts to expand on for future projects, to take the opportunity to learn more about how these businesses work on responsible business conduct, and integrate this knowledge in my current and future projects?

A change of scenery, new inspiration and energy, spending mornings in local coffee shops, or finding my way to exciting exhibitions in the city. I look forward to a future opportunity making that prospect a reality.


This was written for the summer blog challenge (in Dutch) ‘Ik Blog de Zomer Door’ hosted by Karin Ramaker.

This fourth, and last, assignment asked the question: “You have the opportunity to work in a European city. Where would you go and what do you want to learn?”

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