My secondment to the US of A.

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Some people think of me as lucky at cards and unlucky in love. Proven once more by the fact that I won the BMI• secondment lottery earlier this year. The BMI• secondment is a two-week internal internship program amongst our global offices. So, when the post-it with my name on it magically appeared in the raffle, I couldn’t be more excited. My office of choice? The United States of America.

As I just got back from New York City I thought it would be nice to give you the low down on my trip and share some of my “work hard, play hard” highlights with you.

Week 1 – San Francisco


Work hard: 

It all started off by organizing the Cisco Circular Summit with my colleagues Justin and Myrthe. A two-day co-innovation workshop, the summit brought together some of the world’s biggest players with Cisco, such as DHL, Flex, Microsoft, Nike and William Sanoma. In a smaller CHILL set up, we designed different business model options for circular supply chain solutions. It was an amazing experience to see these companies joining forces in the quest for more sustainable businesses. The energy the participants had was amazing, and the number of ideas generated in this short amount of time was simply impressive. In the upcoming months, these ideas will be further shaped and validated by a dedicated team. Needless to say, I am super curious to see what outcomes they develop.


Play hard: 

My colleagues organized a couple of inspirational activities that should have been work but totally felt like play. Myrthe took me for a bike tour at Stanford University and through Palo Alto. She showed me the garage of Hewlett-Packard, in other words the birthplace of “Silicon Valley”. I couldn’t help but think of the impact this high-tech region has had on our everyday lives over the past decades. HP was founded back in 1938, but companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple were all born in this region. Mind-blowing right?!

Justin took me to see the “Mothership” a.k.a Apple HQ and to the amazing Autodesk gallery. The gallery is named a top destination by Wired magazine and the San Francisco Chronicle, and rightly so. It features dozens of designs where their software played a vital role and includes projects from Nike, Lego and Mercedes-Benz.

Visual Smart-Ass Maarten took me to the SFMoMa where we didn’t look at the art on the walls. Instead, we took the audio that we designed for Wacker. It shows you the art of the building itself and how you can apply some of their design processes in your own innovation journey. And call it coincidence, but the façade of the MoMa building is actually designed with Autodesk software. If you are in the neighborhood reach out to Maarten for the Audio tour. It will actually give you a different perspective of this beautiful building and its artwork inside.

Play harder: 

As I had 2 weekends in San Francisco I also took the opportunity to act like a local by visiting a very American baseball game (Let’s gooo Giants), cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge and eat tacos in the Mission together with Maaike. Best Mexican Food Ever and also the winner of my favorite dinner during the entire trip.

Week 2 – New York City


Work hard:

Usually, my colleague Moniek and I go hand in hand as Team MoNiki to organize the Design a Better Business Workshop in Amsterdam. But for this occasion, I got to be the co-host in the New York edition together with Meg. You can call us MeNiki if you’d like. We dedicated a full-day workshop to train participants from different companies, such as PepsiCo and Eileen Fisher, in new innovation tools, skills and mindsets. Same set-up, different city, new and interesting insights. It’s nice to see how you can learn from the same project in a different context. Meg and I shared best practices and were actually able to improve both program designs for the USA and Amsterdam in one-go.


Play hard: 

I mean, New York, by itself is just one big highlight. I totally felt like Carrie Bradshaw the entire week; strolling the streets of the Meatpacking District, dancing in Brooklyn and shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue. Of course, I bought new sneakers (yes, plural) at Nike’s House of Innovation, ate fresh bagels with cream cheese and walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. I visited Doyer street with Maaike, yes Doyer. But it was actually an outside the Lonely Planet activity that really stood out. Together with the girls from the office, we went to a recording of the Late Night talk show with Seth Meyers. And guess who was guest of honor? Jennifer Lopez! And yes, she is as amazing in real life as she is on screen. She is beautiful, funny and in my opinion one bad-ass female entrepreneur.  Ok, I am totally fangirling now. Back to business.

Secondment Niki Seelen

Biggest learning:

The biggest learnings of my trip? Distance is not an issue in The States. People think a four-hour commute or six-hour flight is nothing. Where a four-hour ride gets me to Paris and a six-hour flight gets me to Dubai.

But more importantly. Everything is bigger in “Texas”. My colleagues are not afraid to dream big. Much bigger than we do here in The Netherlands. They think far outside the box and work together as one dedicated team to make our clients successful. They own their magic.

All in all, it was an amazing experience and the right balance between work & play. Also, a big thank you to Maaike and Patrick for making the trip possible to begin with. I can’t wait for my next international trip to our Taiwan office in January.

Would you like to hear more about my experience? Or are you interested in any of the events I mentioned above? Feel free to reach out to me by mail, phone or LinkedIn.


All the best,




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