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15 YEARS VERSUS THE FIRST 100 DAYS...

In 2021, Bureau for Reuring and Wouter Boits' The Oval Office merged. Nicolette Vink became the new managing director of the Dutch office of The Oval Office in November, after a period as producer at IDTV. In the meantime, Nicolette also works closely with her colleagues in Belgium and France. 
Now that the first 100 days are over, Reuring founder Christine is handing over her last tasks to Nicolette, after 15 years (!). What are they looking forward to together at this key moment? How does Nicolette look back on that first phase and what is the upcoming departure like for Christine? Read the conversation between Nicolette & Christine here.

You've been on board The Oval Office for 100 days, congratulations! What has surprised you most positively in this first period?
Nicolette: ''I've noticed a close-knit group of committed people working here. I am happy to see that. In the end it's about the quality of your people and the fun of the work largely depends on your colleagues.  In that respect I am lucky that I am surrounded in the MT by 3 strong women: Lotte Barends, Lot Aler and Patricia Vergeer.  We were immediately on the same wavelength and shared the same values. I didn't doubt for a moment after choosing The Oval Office and I have only been strengthened in that respect during the first 100 days. I have realized what a privilege it is to be able to cycle to work and to work in the middle of the city!

And what is highest on your list of priorities to tackle?
Nicolette: ''We have a number of vacancies that I would like to fill and furthermore I would like to make the team a little more diverse than it is now. ''

You have taken the first steps in letting go of your business. What is that like for you?
Christine: ''On the one hand, I am a blessed person. I have had tremendous fun setting up Bureau for Reuring and bringing it to fruition. And I’m proud to hand it over to its new owner, Wouter, and to you. I’m very aware this is not for everyone. At the same time, Reuring was my joy and my life, so it also saddens me to part with it.''

So why are you quitting now?
Christine: ''Since the start in 2007 I have found that the brand Reuring is timeless, but that I personally carry an expiration date with me. I wanted to stop at my peak, when I still enjoy the work and when clients and colleagues are still happy with me. Now I'm starting the next and very different phase of my career, still fresh and with a lot of knowledge.''

What experiences from your past can you put to good use in your role as Managing Director of The Oval Office?
Nicolette: ''Because there are so many aspects to this role, I can use all the experience I have gained before in some way. The last five years before I joined The Oval Office, I worked at IDTV in a similar role. I see a lot of parallels and obviously I draw a lot from that. Everything is coming together for me now. That's really nice to notice.''

Are you an 'experience-driven' communication person?
Nicolette: ''It's not the first thing I think of when you ask me to describe myself, but when I think about it a bit longer I believe I am. Just as I believe that a live experience makes the most impact in the bigger picture of a campaign. I would rather see my friends in real life than speak to them on the phone. I believe very much in the power of live as a prerequisite for a successful relationship. Whether that relationship is person-to-person or person-to-brand.'' 

How have you seen our industry develop in recent years?
Christine: ''At the time it was distinctive to position Reuring as a communications agency specializing in 'live'; the event as the flywheel of a campaign. Nowadays it's the norm for the better agencies. Clients are also more professional; a briefing on paper was an exception back then. But if you start using words like 'back then' and 'then', you have to stop.'

What experiences from your past would you like to pass on to me so that I can do my job optimally?
Christine: ''Fortunately, we have six months to answer this question. And you are not a rookie; the basic principles of good leadership are already in your genes. But these commandments have worked well for me;

  • Be fair at all times
  • Stick to the plan
  • Be selective; do something well or don't do it at all
  • And make a little noise''

Who has taught the most? In life and in work?
Nicolette: ''In life that is without doubt my mother. She taught my sister and me, among other things, that it is very important to be independent as a woman. Now, I teach my daughters the same thing. In addition, she was just a wonderful, fun and sweet mother and we always had a lot of laughs together. Hopefully my daughters will say the same about me.
Taco (ed. Rijssemus, former CEO of IDTV) taught me about leadership and building a team. As a leader, it is important to ask for feedback because it is no longer given automatically. It's up to you to create an environment in which employees feel free to give that feedback. And you have to build a team; it doesn't just happen by itself. It starts with getting to know each other better and learning to trust each other. That's what I'm trying to do at The Oval Office right now.''

And if you look at the years ahead. What development do you expect in the market?
Nicolette: ''We are at the beginning of a new period that we might later refer to as 'after-Covid'. The need for live contact and real connection has only increased due to the long period of absence. Hopefully this will be reflected in the kind of requests we receive from clients in the coming period.  We are looking forward to this and are more than ready for it.''

How do you feel about the name the Bureau of Reuring not being continued?
Christine: ''Terrible! But of course, that doesn't matter anymore. And if I -very empathically- stand in the shoes of the new owner, then I understand the choice for The Oval Office. One name for an agency with offices in several countries, a name with a strong reputation in the domestic market of Belgium, a name that is appealing and that everyone can pronounce.

Now that you've had a look around for 100 days, what do you think will be your biggest challenge at The Oval Office?
Nicolette: ''Keep considering what I spend my time on. There are a lot of (fun) things to do and I already notice that the weeks fly by and my schedule fills up quickly. I will continue to free up time for customer contact and thinking along with cool projects. I find the concept development and the thinking along with the production one of the nicest things in our profession.''

Why did you and Wouter choose me as the new Managing Director?
Christine: ''For me you were immediately an appealing and pleasant personality. You appeared to have relevant experience and the right set of norms and values to lead the team and make customers happy. Easy choice, as far as I'm concerned!''

What do you think about The Oval Office standing out in terms of empathy?
Nicolette: ''I am very happy about that. I believe very much in the power of empathy. If we all tried to empathize with the other person, there would be a lot less misery in the world. I am convinced of that. To extend this to brands that need to put themselves in the position of their target group is an interesting and valuable approach. I am convinced that we can also make a difference as an agency.''

What will you do when you are no longer involved with The Oval Office?
Christine: ''This spring (2022) I will finish handing over everything and you’ll have the room all to yourself, haha! Then I need a few months to recover from surgery and in that time I will prepare for my life after Reuring. That will not be behind the geraniums. I would like to write another great new chapter in my entrepreneurship. That will be outside our sector and have a social character, that's for sure.''

What do you like to do when you're not working?
Nicolette: ''Spending time with my two daughters, traveling, skiing, reading books, crossfit, going to the theater, going to a festival with friends, going to concerts. I have a close group of friends that I love to do things with. The last two years have been a lot more limited but we have pulled each other through. Hopefully better times are coming again, with a lot less restrictions. I very much hope to be back at Lowlands this summer!''

What will you miss the most?
Christine: ''First of all the people. I have very consciously chosen to have every Reuringmaker on the team and in the past few months I have also taken the Officers into my heart. Don't know what to do without them yet.
Secondly, developing strategies for clients. Putting myself in the client's shoes and then surprising them with creative solutions is very nice work. I will miss the satisfaction of happy clients.
And our beautiful office in the Pijp area. Fortunately, I will remain the owner of that office, so I can also keep the line with you a bit longer.'' 

When is your move to The Oval Office a success?

Nicolette: ''When we function well as a team at The Oval Office. When everyone has the feeling to contribute in his/her own way, when we look out for each other and really do it together. And of course if we can continue to create beautiful projects for fine, regular clients. But first and foremost I feel responsible for the team.

Is there anything else you would like to say?
Christine: ''Yes. I want to wish you lots of success and fun in leading The Oval Office in the Netherlands. You've got a gold mine in your hands with the team, they're talented and also very nice people. And I would say the same about our clients; cherish them, hug them and inspire them!''