Your partner in British Dutch Business


Get ready to meet the man leading the new era of the NBCC! This year marks new beginnings: the UK got a new king, and the NBCC got a new Chair. In this interview, we sit down with the man himself, Diederik van Wassenaer. His top priority? The NBCC members! "It's all about the members and for the members" is his mantra.

As part of his introduction program, Diederik will meet with members and stakeholders to understand their needs and ensure that the NBCC provides the best tools for their business success. If you have any suggestions or would like to meet him, don't hesitate to contact us, and we can arrange a conversation.

Without further ado, let's begin the interview and join us as we get to know Diederik and his vision for the future of the NBCC.

Congratulations on your appointment as the Chair of the NBCC. How has the role been so far?

DvW: I'm really enjoying it. There's a lot to do and a lot to learn, but we've already implemented some changes, and we aim for further internal improvements. It's great to work with Lyne and the team, and I’m very happy to work with our new Treasurer Harry Brockhoff of the Dutch Flower Group, who has incredible business experience. Actually, we go way back, although we only realized that recently.

You joined the NBCC because you wanted to make a difference. What are your ambitions for the organization during your term as Chair?

DvW: I have several ambitions for our organization. First and foremost, I want to expand our membership base in all areas. As the UK is a larger country than the Netherlands, with many more companies, there is still significant potential for growth.

Secondly, I want to focus the NBCC more on its members. To achieve this, Lyne and I are currently conducting an extensive survey among our members to determine their wishes and needs. We will use this information to ensure that we focus on the members and deliver on their priorities. Additionally, we involve our partners and forum members in shaping our annual plans. This ensures that we address the key priorities identified by the experts.

Third, I aim to grow the NBCC into a more relevant networking institution between the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. We are the go-to place for companies on all cross-border matters between the Netherlands and the UK.

Fourth, I have initiated some internal changes to simplify our organization, which has been quite complex due to being a UK company with a Dutch branch. Also, we are streamlining our finance and internal processes to free up time and resources for more member-focused and strategic initiatives.

Fifth, I want to ensure that we effectively guide our members through the post-Brexit period, as the Windsor Framework has now been agreed. We will continue to advocate for our members' interests and provide them with the tools and resources they need to thrive amid these changes.

And finally, my ambition is to serve for 10 years, but of course, you never know for certain if that will be achievable.

Get to know Diederik van Wassenaer:

Diederik van Wassenaer, born on August 7, 1957, in Beverwijk. The Netherlands. He studied Civil Law at the University of Leiden from 1976 to 1982.

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During his career Van Wassenaer held various roles at ING Bank NV: Global Head of Products, Clients and Network and Member of Management Team Wholesale Banking (2005-2016), Global Head of Research, Regulatory & International Affairs and Member of ING’s Finance Management Team (2016-2022), and served on the supervisory boards of multiple ING subsidiaries (2005-2022). Previously, he was a partner at the law firm NautaDutilh from 1984 to 1999, managing their New York and London branches during his tenure.

Currently, van Wassenaer holds several positions: Chairman of the financial committee for  Stichting Twickel, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Bank Mendes Gans NV, Treasurer of the Carnegie Foundation, Chairman of the Jacoba van Wassenaer fund and, Chairman and member of the financial committee of RCOAK.


What made you decide to say yes to this position?

DvW: I had to think about it for a while. When I lived in London for NautaDutilh, I discovered that the UK is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Furthermore, we have always had strong ties with the United Kingdom in my family, as many of my family members have lived there for both longer and shorter periods of time, so I am very familiar with the country. I also spent a significant part of my military service there. It is safe to say that I really like the country a lot. I enjoy doing business both in the UK and in the Netherlands, and I thought this position would be a great mix of many things I have done in my life and enjoyed, all coming together in the NBCC. In this way, I can help the important and more than 800-year long trading relationship between The Netherlands and UK thrive in the coming years thrive towards a bright future too.

So it's the perfect job for you.

DvW: It's a good job, but I don't believe in gifts. I believe in hard work, and that's what makes me happy and gives me energy. Being a part of this organization is not about showing off. It will sometimes be tough and challenging, but we have a great team that will help with that.

What was your first encounter with the NBCC?

DvW: My involvement with the NBCC began with Brexit. The NBCC with its NBCC Brexit forum played a key role in the debate and information sharing, and I was invited to participate in the ad-hoc working group for Brexit. I thoroughly enjoyed it; they organized excellent meetings, including one with the then-Brexit Secretary, David Jones. My first NBCC meeting was a great experience, and has been ever since. I want to emphasize that the NBCC is neutral, non-political, only focused on serving the needs of our members, and I play a neutral role. Especially in these times, our work is closely tied to politics, but it's essential to maintain a neutral position and focus on policies, trade barriers, and other relevant issues.

You were a member of the Advisory Council of Women in Financial Services at work, which suggests that you place a high value on inclusion and gender equality. Will this be an area of focus for the NBCC in the coming years?

DvW: I am committed to focusing on any topic that our members want us to prioritize, including diversity and inclusion. It's a topic that has been close to my heart my entire life. My mother and grandmother were both strong, diverse women who taught me essential life skills, such as cooking and ironing, as they believed that everyone should learn these skills regardless of their gender. My mother told me, "You have to learn all these things. You cannot leave that to a woman because you have your own responsibility."

My mother went back to school when I was 12 and showed me the importance of a woman working. In her own words, she said, "I'm doing this also for you because I want to make sure that you have the right example. I want you to see that it is normal for a woman to work for her keep, and that is better."

Aside from personal reasons, there are also compelling economic reasons for companies to embrace diversity and inclusion. Diverse companies tend to perform better and create a more welcoming environment, attracting top talent from all walks of life. Ultimately, our organization exists because of our members, and we are committed to providing value to them in every way possible.

As chair of the NBCC, what steps do you plan to take to ensure that the organization remains relevant and effective in today's business landscape?

DvW: I have already discussed some potential organizational changes that I am considering. At the heart of these changes is ensuring that the services we provide are relevant to our members. We will stop offering services that are not relevant and focus more on those that are, as determined through member surveys.

In addition, we are also taking steps to streamline our finance and other internal processes, freeing up resources for more member-focused, strategic initiatives. Our new business manager Mark is dedicating a significant amount of time to these complex tasks, and we hope to simplify our organization to further support our goals. As a membership organization without subsidies, we plan to hire additional staff, which means we need to attract new members to support these efforts. By becoming more relevant and impactful, we aim to increase our membership base and resources, ultimately allowing us to achieve more.

It's worth noting that we are a member of both the British Chambers of Commerce network and NLinBusiness Hub network, which amplifies our reach and offers many advantages. These networks provide us with greater opportunities to connect and collaborate with other businesses and organizations, sharing best practices and further expanding our impact and influence.

The NBCC has really been at the forefront of driving sustainability amongst the British Dutch businesses. How do you see the NBCC champion sustainability in the coming year?

DvW: One of the core strengths of NBCC is its ability to identify the needs of our members. Research has shown that Brexit, diversity, technological innovation, AI, digitalization, sustainability and now COP28 are key areas where we can help our members thrive.

Sultan Al Jaber, the President of COP28, has emphasized the critical role that private sector companies will play in tackling the climate crisis, making this an important area for NBCC to facilitate by sharing best practices, informing members, activating companies to take action, connecting like-minded individuals, green coaching, enabling discussions on blockages and solutions, and transitioning to a greener, cleaner economy.

We also have the Windsor Agreement now, which marks the beginning of a new era in the relationship between the EU and the UK. Do you see that as a new opportunity?

DvW: The signing of the framework agreement between the EU and the UK marked the end of a period of animosity between the two parties and signifies a renewed focus by the UK on Europe. The current Downing Street government recognizes the importance of good relations, policies, and trade. This shift in direction is promising, and hopefully, it will lead to positive results for all parties involved. It is to our mutual advantage that we have solid relations between our societies, our business and academic communities and the need to ensure they continue engaging with and enriching each other in a mutually profitable and respectful manner. We all want a strong EU and a strong UK: a strong UK and a strong EU are valuable partners. Especially in times like these.

As the UK charts its new independent trade policy for the first time in over four decades, it is essential that we work together towards a prosperous trading future. The longstanding trade relationship between the Netherlands and the UK, dating back over 400 years, makes our role as NBCC even more important. We are committed to supporting our members by organizing efficient cross-border trade flows and facilitating interactions between policymakers and companies, so that our members can benefit from these opportunities.

As advocates for our members, we will address issues on the implementation of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), and emphasize the importance of positive policy changes that facilitate smooth and barrier-free trade between the UK and the Netherlands. We aim to help our members navigate the complex landscape of Brexit and changing trade dynamics through guidance, expertise, and support. Ultimately, our goal is to create a prosperous future for our members by seizing the opportunities that arise from this new era of trade relations.

The new EU Ambassador to the UK, Pedro Serrano, has expressed his willingness to move beyond Brexit and rebuild a strong relationship between the EU and the UK. According to him, the timing is good with the finalization of the Windsor Framework agreement, which has rebuilt trust between the two parties. How do you see the role of the NBCC in that?

DvW: The EU-UK relationship is now at a high point, and we have a dual role in it. On one hand, we provide information to our members to keep them informed about the latest developments. On the other hand, we also provide information to governments to make them aware of the consequences of their (future) actions. We act as intermediaries and facilitators, but we cannot fix everything. Our role is to highlight issues and ensure that both sides understand the impact of their decisions.

I recently attended a meeting with the UK Ambassador in the Netherlands and the Trade Commissioner for Europe, where we discussed trade barriers. Interestingly, we were able to provide them with local insights that were new to them but known to our members. Our goal is to ensure that policymakers understand the implications of their actions and make informed decisions. That's a significant role for us.

How do you plan to collaborate with the Dutch and UK governments to ensure that the needs and interests of NBCC members are taken into account in any trade negotiations or policy decisions?

DvW: The good news is that we are impartial in our role as a mediator. This makes us unique. We provide assistance to both sides, helping the UK as much as we do the Dutch side. This gives us a position of neutrality, and we do not solely represent the Netherlands or the UK. We also advocate on behalf of businesses between the two countries, which is a rather unique opportunity. Another element to note is that our two patrons are the Dutch Ambassador in the UK and the UK Ambassador in the Netherlands. They serve as helpful intermediaries to connect with governments behind them, and we will use these channels to provide information and connections for our members on both sides. If they need information, they know they can rely on us to provide it.

Speaking of working together with both The Embassy of the Netherlands in the UK and vice versa, you touch upon in the beginning that you want to get a more equal membership between the UK and the Netherlands. Can you share your plans for attracting more members in the UK?

DvW: I believe that personal connections are key in building our community, especially in the well-connected Dutch base. Our members frequently share information and leverage their connections to help answer questions and provide valuable insights. It's not enough to simply rely on marketing to attract new members. We need to persuade and convince individuals to join and commit to our community. While I aim for strong growth in our member base, I understand that it may take up to 10 years to achieve this goal. Given the significant difference in size between the Netherlands and the UK, we are focusing on growing our member base there.

As the new Chair of the NBCC, you have a unique opportunity to shape the organization's future and advocate for the interests of its members. What are you most excited about in your new role?

DvW: I find that there are many challenges, and that's something that usually excites me. I have mentioned some of those challenges, but I can't say that one aspect is the most exciting because I enjoy working with the new team. We are a board of directors, which functions as a team for me. We have a good team, and it's enjoyable to work with them. We see that the new core team Lyne, Mark, and Harry, already have connected very easily. There is a lot of trust. Good teamwork begins by trust. There are many things coming up, so we anticipate that it won't be easy, but that's not why I joined. I don't like things to be easy.

Van Wassenaer has outlined several key priorities for the NBCC, including expanding the membership base, making the NBCC more member-focused, growing the NBCC into a more relevant network institution, simplifying the organization, and effectively guiding members through the post-Brexit period.

Diederik van Wassenaer is a modern leader who values equality and sustainability in his approach to leading the NBCC. His dedication to putting members first was evident throughout the interview, as was his appreciation for the talented team of professionals he works with.

We are happy to have you, Diederik, and we are excited about what the future holds under your leadership!