Siem is fundalist of 2005 and co-founder of Handpicked Group with offices in Singapore and Shanghai, China. Handpicked supports international companies with their ventures related to China Business. Via Handpicked, international companies can either buy goods from China or sell goods in China. Besides the import - export business, companies reach out to Handpicked for advice and operational support in the Greater China region.
After his graduation, Siem packed a suitcase and moved to Shanghai where he started a job at a local trading office. Within 3 months he discovered the company was pretty much a ‘scam’; he didn’t get his salaries paid on time, salaries weren’t paid in full, and he soon ended up not having enough cash for rent or food. With a mere € 400 in his pocket, no housing and no job, he could move into a shared apartment with an alumni from the Hotelschool the Hague. He then quickly pulled himself together and found a new job as a commercial property agent for one of the world’s largest real estate firms; DTZ (Cushman and Wakefield nowadays). How did he get this job? He walked into their office tower, convinced the receptionist for a meeting and two weeks later he sat at a new desk on the 42nd floor of a skyscraper with a new blackberry and a laptop. And that is how his China career (in corporate real estate) started.
When Siem is asked what his best memory is during his time at the Hotel Management School, he mentions the following; the social cohesiveness and can-do spirit of the community. Especially the can-do spirit of Student Association Amphitryon and Fraternity Xaviera, which he’s a member of.
One of his gained skills during his study is the ability to be hands-on and do something.
According to Siem there’s nothing a real Hotello can’t realize or do; organize and lead meetings, realize events, run a company while taking good care of yourself and others, establish and maintain contact with high level individuals and throw (serious) parties! With our staff we have monthly team building sessions and it feels just like the old days at the Hotel School. He explains: “It is like organising a bar-evening, a HOVO-event or sponsor-dinner and we are always having a lot of fun.”
Besides being a boardmember of the student council (SSR) and a member of the central council of Zuyd Hogeschool, he was very active at the Student Association and his Fraternity. Working in the Bar Commission, the PR Commission and Introduction Commission made him realize that it all comes down to one thing: the mind-set and willingness to JUST DO it!
Since 1999 he has been living most of his life abroad and had the chance to live and work in different cities in China, Singapore, Indonesia and the UAE. When applying for his degree, Siem had gut feeling that Hotel Management School Maastricht was the right place for him. He was especially interested because it allows you to go on internship abroad. In his third year he went for an unforgettable management traineeship at the JW Marriott Hotel in Shanghai which changed his life. How Siem describes his time at the Hotel Management School? 'Fantastic! Everyday I think or talk about the Hotelschool Maastricht. I believe that says enough.'
According to Siem it is a serious benefactor to be part of the alumni network, especially if you’re a member of the Student Association. Even though it is often said that an active student life and good study results don’t go along with each other, he believes the value of the network to your personal life, is seriously underestimated.
When the company was founded and just started of, a number of their first clients came from this specific network. These client-experiences allowed Handpicked to prove it could take on big clients too; such as fortune 500 companies and other MNCs worldwide. Till today many of Handpicked’s first clients remain customers and introduce valuable leads and new business opportunities. That’s how important a good network is!
In a joint effort to lift the industry up, KHN and the hotel schools in the Netherlands are combining forces.
“Having studied hotel management somehow opens doors and creates an instant connection.”