Erin Bouwen is the Personal Assistant to JCI President Bertolt Daems. Erin helped JCI UK with the President’s visit to the UK (that you can read more about here), down to travel arrangements, what kind of coffee President Bertolt prefers and just in general being incredibly helpful.
Hi Erin, you work with the WP, can you tell us a bit who you are and what you do?
I am Erin Bouwen, JCI member since 2001, partner of Dick and mother of 11 year old son Siem and 5 year old daughter Isa. I live in a small village in the Netherlands, close to Amsterdam, with 270 residents, a school and lots of cows and sheep. I am self employed and help SMB companiess with strategy and marketing in a very hands-on way. This year I have an extra full time job next to my company Bouwen2Business as the Personal Assistant of JCI President Bertolt Daems.
Sounds busy! How long have you been a member of JCI and why did you join?
I joined JCI Kennemerland (in the city Haarlem) in 2000 and became a member in 2001. After growing up and studying in the east part of the Netherlands, I moved to the west. The main thing I did was working. Part of my social life was still on the other side of the country and the only people I knew where my colleagues and neighbors. Time to explore other people and enlarge my social life! A good friend of mine was a member in my home town and told me to join. That way we could share international trips together and have fun. It worked out great. I started visiting European Conferences and World Congresses from the first year.
JCI really formed me by doing community projects and building a business network.The local activities and friendships were very important to me in the phases I went through. International travels also gave me dear friends but most of all formed the way I see the world today and my own role in it.
So what motivated you to work with Bertolt this year?
He tricked me into it:-). And now the real reason; When Bertolt knew he had the opportunity to become president, he asked me to be his campaign leader. We already were friends within JCI and that was the kick-of of our collaboration. After the election at World Congress in Brussels, the way we worked together went so well that it wasn’t a difficult choice at all to be his PA in 2012. The Plan of Action 2012 and JCI as a worldwide organization is so near to my heart, I feel it as a privilege to help building a solid future for it. The benefit communities around the world will have through the actions of JCI members is huge. And I am sure with Bertolts leadership it will benefit even more; his vision is just what this organization needs. Being able to contribute to that success is motivating enough.
So how is it, really, to work with the WP?
It’s big fun, and hard work. The reason we started this collaboration is because our communication is fast and easy. No extra words, no hassle, no lost of time. to the point and constantly going for the next step. That makes it intense also because he never stops. So I never stop..:-)
From the start Bertolt approached the Presidential year not as a one-man-show, but as a project we do with a team. That makes it a joint effort on a daily basis.
What is the most inspiring bit of your work with Bertolt?
The inner growth of people around me is my biggest inspiration. And that’s what happens within JCI every moment of the day. Actually witnessing that young people touch their community and each other and at the same time allowing themselves to grow, is great to see. This presidential year is all about passion, action and results. And it’s inspiring to see that borders don’t exist when you have a common goal like that.
Bertolt stimulates that inner growth in people by his visits, speeches and social media contacts. To be part of that process gives me a lot of energy.Thats inspiring!
Do you get to travel with Bertolt?
Yes, I accompany him on the bigger events like all the Area Conferences, the Partnership Summit in NYC, several trips to JCI world head quarters and World Congress. Sometimes a short trip if I can squeeze it in between family and my daily work. In my role I am most needed on the big events. Although I would love to have more opportunity to visit local organizations around the world. Still something to do after this year 🙂
Can you tell us a bit about Bertolt as a person?
Bertolt is a born leader with a big drive and one lesson he learned himself: live your dreams, otherwise they stay dreams. And he lives his dreams and motivates people to do the same.
His energy comes from the members and the community’s he visits or talks to. Being the President means extremely long days. An average day for him has about 16 hours work. He wants to visit as many local organizations as possible. But because there are only 365 days in a year, we came up with the Online Chat sessions. We just had the first a couple of weeks ago and will have more of those.
He adores his family and is very proud of his kids. He likes mint chocolates, white wine and the beach during every season. Two wishes were on the extra wish list for this year: flying in a helicopter and meeting Bill Clinton. The helicopter was done in the Philippines. 1 down, 1 to go.. I am sure it will work out because a dream is something to live.
And finally, can you tell us something about yourself that you don’t think we’re likely to know?
I guess you should send Bertolt this question;-) Curious to read his answer!
There is a lot JCI members don’t know about me. In fact, you are the first country asking me for an interview instead of the President. I hope it was worth it!
Two things you probably don’t know:
I am a big fan of DJ Armin van Buuren. Visited the best gig ever in Delhi, India during the WC.
And my favorite place in the world, where I like to be at least ones every couple of years to reflect and enjoy, is Stonehaven near Aberdeen, Scotland. A magical place for me.
Thank you Erin, and thanks again for all your help with the President visiting!
Categorised in: Charity
This post was written by Solveig Malvik