New colleague - Bouchra Abdoussi, Hospitality coach

11 March 2024
Around 3 weeks ago, the Expat Centre Maastricht Region team welcomed its newest member, Bouchra Abdoussi. This mother of 4 already has a plethora of experience with municipal matters at Gemeente Maastricht. Still, the first weeks at Expat Centre Maastricht Region were rather intensive, she tells us. Time to get acquainted…

''I started working for Gemeente Maastricht 23 years ago and I have always enjoyed working for the municipality. They are a good employer that also offers the opportunity to make career switches within the organisation. ''

Just like you have now done a career switch.

''Exactly. I graduated as an accountant and started my career at a bank, where I soon discovered that that was not where my passion lay. I then took a start-up course at Gemeente Maastricht. I still remember it well, there was a class of 10 of us and eventually 3 of us from that class were sitting in a room applying for a job.

I was fortunate and was allowed to start as an employee in the Burgerzaken (resident affairs) department. I did this for 10 years in a dual function: back office / front office, which included the GemeenteLoket, the Gemeentelijke belastingen bij GemeenteLoket (municipal taxes desk) and also the IND desk pilot. Although I had a good time there, I wanted to learn more so I applied internally in the finance department. Which was interesting because of my accounting background. I worked there for another 13 years. What stays with me from the finance department above all is the nice combination of management and employee. Of course, that also makes a job worthwhile, the job can be so much fun, but if you don't click with your team you won't last.

I saw the vacancy for Hospitality Coach at Expat Centre Maastricht Region advertised internally and was immediately interested in the position. Without actually necessarily wanting to leave the finance department, I applied that same evening. Before I knew it, I was invited for a first interview and after that things moved very quickly.''

What appealed to you about the position?

''Again, the combination of back office and front office. I do consider myself a social person and a desk function is tremendously fun and makes your job varied. Of course, I already had the experience from my work at GemeenteLoket, but this was a completely different target group: expats and internationals. Plus that extra challenge of speaking English on a daily basis.

In addition, I think it is important to always keep challenging and developing yourself. As I mentioned, I started in 2000 without ‘huisje, boompje, beestje’ (home, family and all the trimmings) and more than 20 years later I am part of a family of 6. Now I feel it is time for me and my self-development again."

What is it like, working for Expat Centre Maastricht Region? How did you experience those first 3 weeks?

'' I received a warm welcome from a very nice team. I don't feel super new, of course also because I am already familiar with the organisation. However, it is very different work and a lot of new information. I would like to master this new information quickly. So what I experienced those first weeks was that I plopped down on the sofa when I got home after work and then later in the evening went back to sorting things out. Exercise and relaxation fell by the wayside. I do all that extra work out of enthusiasm and that is of course a good sign.

A fellow Hospitality Coach gave me the good tip: every conversation is a good one. The questions we are asked are so varied. We can't possibly know everything all the time. So it is alright to occasionally have to take note of something to come back to it later. Our visitors appreciate that we make that effort. That helped me a lot and also gave me the confidence to start working at the desk myself.

Sometimes you get tough questions. Before you know it, you're telephoning various organisations for more information. Every situation is so unique. I find that I enjoy investigating and helping people in this way. It also broadens my own knowledge of the Netherlands, and more specifically, the Maastricht Region.

What I enjoy enormously are the events. In the past 2 weeks, I have already been able to experience 2 of them, including ‘Starting a business in the Netherlands’ last week. You meet a lot of people at these events, but in a completely different setting. I can't say anything more than: ‘wow!’. Now I also got to see what happens behind the scenes. It is so wonderful to be able to experience this.''

Bouchra Abdoussi, Team ECMR