After years in the land of bicycles, stroopwafels, tulips, and Oranje, I will leave The Netherlands to return to the United States. Reflecting on the last four years, it is difficult to briefly capture all the insights I’ll take back to the US: I’ll highlight just three of them here.
First, people love their pets. And those pets enjoy a variety of pet foods made by dedicated, high quality, highly-regulated pet food companies. This is actually not so different from elsewhere in the world. I am proud to be part of the pet world, and my time working with pet food companies in this region has only increased my respect for our industry.
Second, in the words of a Spanish customer, my English has improved. This might seem strange at first since my native language is English; non-native English speakers will understand. I’ve learned to appreciate the diversity in native languages across the region. This appreciation has led me to be more sensitive to body language, more thoughtful about suitable vocabulary, and more attentive to understanding. In a world that is increasingly diverse and global, excellent communication is a critical part of personal and professional success. Many thanks to my Spanish friend for pointing it out!
Third, Europe is a challenging and exciting market for pet food companies. According to the World Atlas, there are forty-four countries in Europe. That’s forty-four different cultures, histories, pet trends, retailers, customs, and laws as well as lots of different languages. And that doesn’t include the highly diverse Middle Eastern and African regions also served by AFB and pet food companies. The abundance of diversity is one of the things that makes this region so incredible yet so complex. One look at a pet food label with five languages gives a sense of the complexity – especially when you know the same brand probably has multiple versions with additional, different languages. The companies who are successful here have the skills and expertise to be successful anywhere in the world.
As I depart the Netherlands, I am especially pleased to welcome Andries Smit to the AFB European team. Andries’ over two decades of global experience in specialty B2B ingredients will be a huge benefit for AFB and our customers. A constant drive to add value to customer’s products and brands has been a red thread throughout his career. He will continue to lead the commercial team in delivering the best palatant solutions through partnership with customers and a continued focus on industry-leading customer satisfaction. To meet Andries, contact your AFB account manager, or reach out to him.
Fortunately, in my new role as Vice President, Global Marketing, all of the relationships and insights built in my years at AFB will continue to bear fruit. Our Global Marketing team has a two-fold mission of building customer value and building company value, and this only happens with deep understanding of the needs of the industry, its companies, and its customers. So, my European friends, this is not goodbye… this is more of a ‘see you soon’. Let’s not become strangers!
For more information on AFB International visit their website, HERE.