Noud van den Boer is a member of the Advisory Board of Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship.
He is Director of the family firm Maison van den Boer. “Ridiculous, of course. I also see it with my own children: you glorify what your father does. Until puberty, when you begin to understand that it is not all roses. Go out and see if there is more to do in the world. My father thought that was excellent.“
What about your education – where was the emphasis?
“Study hard. Do well in sports. Perform. My sister and I were pushed to do better more often than we received compliments.
I went to a boarding school at the age of ten. It makes you very independent. And you realise how good your life actually is. In our family, we went to a boarding school because our parents were so busy with the business, but we saw them at weekends and holidays. A few of my classmates were there because they had lost a parent at a young age. “
What was the biggest turning point in your career?
“When I was 22. My father was ill. When we knew he would not recover, he asked me directly: “What do you want to do?” I didn’t want the business. I wanted an international career. But I made the decision to stay in the family business.
There were two reasons why I had not wanted it earlier: In the first place the comfort. The option to go into the family business was always open. That gave the room to do something else. Secondly, my father was already doing a great job. What would I add? And if we were to work together, would we get in each others’ way?
If you really look at the choice: If I had said no to the option of taking over the business, I knew it would disappear forever. And I would also be without my father. The two reasons not to go into the business, were gone. Then the question is: is it an attractive option? Yes, it was.”
The best advice I ever got
“A good friend of my father, Cor van Zadelhoff, advised me in the transfer of the family business: ‘Stay pragmatic’. That’s always been my reference. Am I doing something because I am emotional about it, or can I justify it? You should choose the practical way. My emotion is a factor but not the only one. The emotion of my surroundings counts.”