Closure 2nd Women for Women programme: “Spouses add the spice”

The economy keeps growing in Eindhoven. This growth means an ever-increasing number of jobs for talented people from all over the world. Highly-skilled employees are hired and their spouses decide to take the plunge too and jointly they land in the new country.

For these often talented and highly-qualified partners it is not easy to find their feet in the city immediately. This is where the Eindhoven Municipality comes in. They want to get this specific group involved in the development of the region.

Together with ambassadors from the business and education sectors, the Council launched through the ‘Living In’ framework the ‘Women for Women’ programme. For the two editions Expat Spouses Initiative (ESI) led by Kavitha Varathan cooperated with Kracht on Tour by Necla Koҫak. The closure of the second edition of this project took place last Wednesday at the Ilse Wouters Academy in Tongelre, Eindhoven.

Kavitha Varathan (Expat Spouses Initiave), Ed Heerschap (LivingIn)

Central to this programme are the effective connections made between the ambassadors and the spouses. Since its inception, some 36 ambassadors from the Eindhoven Municipality’s network have been linked to the same amount of internationals. Intensive cooperation in enhancing networking, pitching and interviewing skills as well as opening up networks by the mentors resulted in 90% of the spouse participants finding a job.

A success story

One of these couples is Melanie Rhinehart and Linda Steenhoven. Melanie came to Eindhoven from Hong Kong, with her partner, Rudy. She had a successful English teaching practice in this Chinese metropolis. “I must say the speed of integration depends on your own attitude,” says Rhinehart.

She continues: “I have a flexible attitude and easily engage in conversation with people. Yet, something was missing in making the right connection. By talking to Linda, I have discovered that networking in The Netherlands is very different than in America or China. The Dutch are much more focused on the exchange of ideas. That has helped me to understand the dynamics of networks here better.”

Melanie Rhinehart (ESI) and Linda Steenhoven (Summa College)

Melanie now teaches English, thanks to the connection with Steenhoven. Steenhoven, herself, is the Business and Marketing Director at Summa College. “Thirty years ago, I came to Eindhoven from Amsterdam and had to integrate,” Linda says, smiling. “I cannot imagine having to do so coming from a completely different culture. I have found that being an ambassador is very valuable for this group. ”

“The Women for Women programme made a good match in our case. My background provided added value. As far as I am concerned, there should be a structural network of ambassadors who can share information about spouses. In this way, more people can successfully participate in the local economy,” Linda adds.

Spouses are vital to the city

Councillor, Stijn Steenbakkers, is convinced the Women for Women programme is much needed. “This group is vital for the city. If they cannot settle in Eindhoven, their partners have a big problem. These spouses themselves also offer a wealth of options – for SMEs in the region too. Fifteen permanent jobs have been filled through the project. This is the start of a successful process. The mix of cultures contributes to the international character of the city, without having to compromise the Brabant identity.”

Stijn Steenbakkers (Eindhoven Municipality)

“Making the right connection for this valuable group of people is very important. Just consider the 13,000 vacancies we have in this region. The Women for Women program makes these connections. It also ensures the spouses’ needs are being heard,” Steenbakkers says.

This edition of the project ended with the sharing of success stories and exchanging tips on successful integration by the ambassadors and spouses. A statement by Rhineheart about the ambition of this group for the Brainport region sums things up nicely: “Spouses add the spice!”

The third edition of Women for Women will follow later this year. It will again be part of the ‘Living In’ programme, which focuses on retaining international talent.

Eindhoven News editorial team
Dutch text by Peter Vos
Pictures by Ruud Balk
Source of article FRITS magazine

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