Occupation: Recruiting Manager, Uber
Length of time in Amsterdam: 6 months
Hi Nicolas! How did you end up in Amsterdam?
Well I was born and raised in Paris but had lived in London for many years. I joined Uber three years ago in London, but we have our international headquarters in Amsterdam so I spent two and a half years commuting between London and Amsterdam on almost a weekly basis. It got to the point where it just made sense to move here to be with my team.
So you already knew the city quite well before moving here?
Yeah I already knew the city quite well and had a few friends here, so by the time I moved here I think I knew what I was getting myself into. I probably had a few more preconceptions before I started working for Uber, three years ago. I’ve always loved the city but I’d never had much time in the past to explore it aside from the touristy bits. It came as a pleasant surprise that there’s a lot happening outside of the areas. And that the food is actually really good – I say that as a Frenchman!
You’ve passed the six month milestone now… how did you find your first half a year in Amsterdam?
I was very lucky because I came here in May, so the first few months were absolute bliss. I joined just before King's Day, which was an amazing introduction to the city! Then it was a really nice summer, so there were a lot of boat parties, that sort of thing. Now I just have to adjust to the winter!
Is there a particular highlight of the past six months that sticks out in your mind?
SAIL was amazing! So good. I went down with friends to enjoy it all and was invited onto the boats during the day – it was pretty amazing.
You’ve lived in both Paris and London before Amsterdam. What sets Amsterdam apart from other capital cities?
It’s much smaller obviously. But I’m starting to really appreciate that, in terms of quality of life. There’s much more work life balance here – just things like being able to cycle quickly to work, or going out tonight and being able to go home first, drop off my bike, refresh and come back out. In London these choices have to be made all the time, so I’m enjoying living in a small place.
"There’s much more work life balance here – just things like being able to cycle quickly to work, or going out tonight and being able to go home first"
Is there anything you’re missing that you can’t find here?
There are always small things that you get used to after so many years in a given city, but I’ve found that for its small size Amsterdam is actually quite impressive in terms of cultural events and new things happening all the time.
Have you encountered any unexpected challenges living in Amsterdam?
It’s been pretty smooth, but there have probably been two things. The first is how difficult it is to do anything without a Dutch bank account. That was difficult. The other thing was getting things delivered to my top floor flat - including a sofa which had to go back and then come back with a lift!
Six months in, is there anything that could be better?
Not really. I’m trying to learn Dutch. We have classes in the office. I don’t think it’s an absolute requirement, but at least out of courtesy it’s good to learn. I find that shops close a bit early, or are closed on Sundays which takes some getting used to after so many years in London. But other than that I’ve managed to settle quite nicely.
As a Recruiting Manager for Uber, do you find there to be a healthy jobs market in Amsterdam?
I think so, yes. I’m actually impressed by the talent pool in Amsterdam and how easy it is to relocate people here, and by the number of tech companies based here. For a city this size it’s really impressive.
What are the benefits for Uber of having their headquarters based in Amsterdam?
Amsterdam is a great place to work. We’re trying to build an international business somewhere that reflects the diversity of our market, and it’s the perfect place to do that because we can relocate people here from abroad – they’re always excited to move here. Whether they’re young and single or with a family and spouses, it’s a great city to relocate to. Also it’s a great transport hub – you can fly anywhere from Schiphol.
"We’re trying to build an international business somewhere that reflects the diversity of our market, and it’s the perfect place to do that because we can relocate people here from abroad – they’re always excited to move here."
Do you have any advice for an international looking for a role in Amsterdam?
I would look at the different companies that are based here. People are quite welcoming to the idea of applicants from abroad so it’s possible to start looking from elsewhere before making the move.
How would you describe Amsterdam in three words?
Fun, cosy - or to use the Dutch word ‘gezellig’ - and welcoming.
What’s your favourite neighbourhood in the city?
I keep changing my mind. I like West. It’s quite vibrant. I love De Hallen. And new things keep popping up all the time. I like that it’s a bit less postcard perfect than the Jordaan, it reminds me of the grit that I sometimes miss from London or Paris.
Where would we find you on a Friday or Saturday night in Amsterdam?
We usually start at P.King just around the corner from the office. We also tend to go to a restaurant that I really like called Guts & Glory – it’s my favourite food spot in West. And for late night drinks, I’ve spent many nights at Door 74 - when they let us in! Or otherwise just a few drinks in De Pijp.
And how about on a Saturday morning?
I actually love to go running in Westerpark. I’m lucky enough to have the choice between Vondelpark and Westerpark, but I really love Westerpark. Then I normally try to get to Noordermarkt to catch up with friends and get some brunch or food from the market.
Which Amsterdam building would you love to spend the night inside?
Who are your friends in Amsterdam? Locals, or other internationals?
It’s a bit of a mix. It’s a very sociable company so I have a fair share of colleagues as friends. But I do try to get a few Uber-free days as well so I have a couple of Dutch friends, a few people I know from London, some French friends… it’s a healthy mix! But I’m going to make more effort to have more Dutch friends.
What do you think of Dutch people so far?
I really like Dutch people! I think that growing up in France, I really find an affinity with people in the Netherlands. The interests and personalities can be fairly similar, so actually I really enjoy interaction with Dutch friends.
How long will you stay in Amsterdam?
It's hard to say. A couple of years at least, but you never know. I came to London for two or three years originally but ended up there for ten. So it’s hard to say, but definitely a couple of years.
What’s your best advice for someone who’s just moved here?
I think my best advice is to have an open mind when picking a neighbourhood. It’s easy to have your eyes set on just the Jordaan or just De Pijp, but it’s a very compact city and so easy to get from A to B, and it’s a great chance to explore new neighbourhoods. When I moved over I had my mind set on some very key neighbourhoods, but looking back I think that was narrow minded.