Hello, what kind of little muse are you?
Hello, I’m Sarah Haïlé-Fida and I’m 51 years old.
Where do you live?
I live in Amsterdam in the Buitenveldert district. Some people think of this as the suburbs as it’s the other side of the ring road. For me, the main advantage is being close to the woods, which are just 300 metres away!
How did you come to be here?
In 2007, we had the opportunity to settle in Amsterdam thanks to my partner’s transfer and we were really happy to make the most of this!
How long have you been living here?
For over 10 years with my children who are now 17 and 19. Our arrival was a little hectic as we were held up on the motorway the day we arrived and, 6 weeks later, my daughter, who was then 8, fractured her leg after falling off a gantry in the park. She had to have an operation and spent 6 days in hospital, 6 weeks in plaster (hip and leg) and 3 months catching up on her schooling etc. We didn’t really have the time to ask ourselves if we’d settled in … I think it took us a year to feel like we’d finally found ourselves here.
You’ve embarked on a project: Where did you get the idea from? Why did you choose a theme like this?
In France, I was working as a consultant for the prevention of psycho-social risks within companies (stress, working conditions). This kind of work wasn’t available here: the methodologies are completely different and I would need to speak fluent Dutch. For a few years, I continued working in France while living here. Then, I started my individual support business for people who were being redeployed within their jobs. This coincided with my joining the “Fondation Avenir emploi Pays-Bas”. The 2 activities overlapped, which meant I didn’t have to spread myself too thinly.… but above all, as I’d changed job 5 times myself, I had a certain affinity with the subject of professional retraining!
Tell us how you organise your time between your business and personal life.
My children have grown up so organising my time isn’t difficult and, for several years now, the children have been helping to organise family life. Delegating household tasks is the best option when you work from home mostly.
So, you’re a very busy “Mompreneur”?
In addition to my own business activities, I also spend quite a lot of time doing volunteer work, especially being the chair of the “Fondation Avenir emploi Pays-Bas” and working with a network of solo entrepreneurs (le café ZZP, with over 400 members to date). I tend not to be very organised and do quite a few things at the last minute. As I have my own business and the growing network of entrepreneurs, I now have to think harder about being organised: it’s work in progress!
Tell us about a sudden inspirational moment of happiness
I tend to forget this when I’m stressed but I like to do something– or go to visit an exhibition.
In addition to being a “Mompreneur”, what sort of cultural events do you like to go out and see at the moment, either on your own or
with your family?
Visiting exhibitions and concerts with my family but also with my sister, who often comes to Amsterdam for a concert at Paradiso.
Time for a bit of culture: Can you quote one of your favourite books or paintings?
The work of Basquiat and especially Head (actually there’s no title but the work is known under this name) and Grillo. The paintings by Basquiat try to integrate images, literature and music… they’re brimming with cultural and political references. I also like Camus’ writing because of his vision of humanity.
Can you recommend a current cultural event in your city or area?
Amsterdam has a really rich cultural scene that’s really hard to deny yourself… I’m going to go to the Seydou Keïta exhibition at FOAM in April.
Can you summarise the way of life in the country where you now live as an expat?
When you come to Amsterdam after living in Paris, you feel the change of rhythm – this was even more the case 10 years ago. As a family, we realise that our family lifestyle is far more focused on the children.
Can you tell me about your business?
I first started building my business in France while living in Amsterdam. Then, in 2013, I moved it to the Netherlands when I started to work with individual clients who wanted to refocus on their careers. Today, I offer support to clients who are building their ideal careers but also those who are returning to work after a burn-out.
How did you set it up? How long did it take and how did you handle all the procedures, including the administration?
I didn’t really need to invest in materials and, at the moment, I work from home and meet clients in fairly quiet cafes. In the future, I can see myself renting an office in a co-working area but I haven’t made that leap yet. The Netherlands is clearly a country where administrative procedures for setting up a business are fairly straightforward…as long as you at least understand Dutch! I’m fully up to speed on communicating on social networks: it’s a job in itself and really takes up a lot of time but seems fairly indispensable today.
What do you gain from your experience on a professional level and settling into the country and also in terms of your family…?
I immediately started my business when I arrived in the Netherlands. The question of settling in is still unresolved as I work with the expat community.
Can you summarise your professional journey
Faculty of literature, editor, medical journalist, masters in employment sociology (and beginning my PhD thesis) researcher, project manager, consultant