Celebrating 25 Years of Dedication and Excellence!

Junho, 2023

Yesterday was a very special day as our dearest colleague and Director of our Chamber Marjon van Dinther received an official and well-deserved recognition from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs for 25 years of working at the Chamber of Commerce from Dutch Ambassador Margriet Leemhuis in the garden of the residence. Over the years, Marjon has consistently proven to be an invaluable asset to the Chamber, inspiring others with her outstanding work ethic and tireless pursuit of innovation. Her unwavering dedication has not only contributed to the Chambers' growth but has also positively influenced many other organizations.

Thank you very much, Marjon for helping and inspiring our community and others every day. We thought it would be nice to conduct a flash interview with Marjon to look back at her career.  

Do you remember how it all started and what your first year was like?  I do remember, indeed. At the time I worked for Ocidental Seguros, part of MillenniumBCP, and I had no interaction with the Chamber nor with the Embassy. At the time, Dutch Bilateral Chambers were about to enter a transition phase and had to become independent private organisations that no longer were to receive any subsidies from the Dutch ministry. Our Chamber was looking for a new director that could handle that task. Although they had received over 40 applicants, they hadn't been able to find the sheep with the five legs, as we say in Dutch. Basically they were looking for someone that spoke both Portuguese and Dutch with an economic background, which was my case. Via one of the members, they found me and invited me for an interview on Sunday in the house of the director that was leaving. On the Friday after, we reached an agreement and here I am, 25 years later.

What is your most memorable day/service/activity within the Chamber and why?  I have countless priceless memories, which come with the job I guess. At the Chamber we are in a very privileged position to get to know different sectors, entrepreneurs and initiatives. I am very grateful for all the people that have made contributions to the Chamber, be it as staff, (board)member, fiscal committee, liaison officers, interns or otherwise. Some people have become dear friends along the way (you all know who you are :) ). Special occasions were the collaboration with pianist Maria João Pires and staying on her beautiful farm in Castelo Branco, the boat tour on the Leão Holandês over the Tagus with children of Casa Pia in Beja, gala dinners with people like Eusébio, president Sampaio, Mario Soares, Gerrit Komrij, Padre Dâmaso, Johnson Semedo and many others.     

You have come across many different companies and organizations, which company or organization did pleasantly surprise you the most?  Again, too many to mention, but we cherish a very special relationship with our neighbours: the Embassy. We also have a longstanding relation with our members TIAS Business School and Deltion College in the Netherlands, contributing to the development of the Chamber, and the knowhow and the contacts we gained through those collaborations. It has been very nice to collaborate closely with the staff from these organizations, and it feels like we are all part of one team. I also recall a trip with Heerema very fondly. Together with the 3 people from the executive board of Heerema (one of the largest companies in the world in offshore platforms at that time), I traveled for 3 days in Portugal along the coast to visit potential factory sites for them to start up a new factory that would employ around 400 people. The Chamber had been working on a business plan for the company together with Eunite, a befriended Dutch consultancy firm. Unfortunately, oil prices crashed not soon after the visit and Heerema had to downsize their operations. Nevertheless, it was an amazing trip where we were warmly welcomed by several Mayors, the secretary of state and other important decisionmakers.  

What are your future expectations for the Chamber of Commerce? With the support we are enjoying from members of our Board and Fiscal Committee, the Embassy, our liaison officers and other enthusiastic members, such as the people that run the Digital Circle, I foresee a bright future. The organisation is lean and agile, and the board and executive team have always managed to counteract problematic times such as the economic crisis in 2009, covid etc. It is the support and solidarity of our network that keeps me (and many others) motivated and enthusiastic to contribute. And I have been extremely lucky with my colleague Jearina Imanse, who has been a very pleasant, constructive and supportive person to work with. Thank you all !