This week finds nCipher Security’s Peter Carlisle in Amsterdam. As VP of Global Sales, Peter racks up the miles while navigating a host of divergent cultures and gaining insight about global customer challenges.
For previous episodes, please see here.
nCipher: Peter, where in the world are you?
nCipher: What do you enjoy about visiting Amsterdam?
PC: Amsterdam is one of the cities I’ve visited most over the years so I think I know it pretty well! I really love walking in Amsterdam – the city is compact and easily explored on foot.
Crisscrossing between the canals of Prinsengracht, Herengracht and Keizersgracht is a delight. There are the quirky independent shops of “The 9 Streets”, the beautiful and arty Jordaan district, the fabulous market around the Noorderkerk and countless beautiful views of the many distinctive 17th century houses and their reflections in the water.
Taking a boat trip on the canals is always fun – relax in the Summer sun or enjoy the light show in January, either is memorable. The Rijksmuseum is filled with amazing artworks – Rembrandt’s vast “Nightwatch” canvas is the best known and needs to be seen but there are many lesser known gems to discover.
nCipher: What are some localized challenges customers are facing?
PC: The Netherlands has a strong and diverse economy. It is the largest exporter of agricultural products in Europe and is second only to the US globally. There is a strong energy sector with around 25% of the EU’s gas reserves located in the Netherlands and major wind power capabilities. The Chemical sector is the third major industry with Royal Dutch Shell, DSM, AkzoNobel, and BASF all headquartered in country along with many others.
Like much of Europe, The Netherlands is looking at the UK to see where the Brexit story goes over the coming months. Different commentators see both risk and opportunity for the Dutch depending on the outcome. Trade revenue could decrease in the event of a “no deal” but there is also talk of UK jobs moving to the Netherlands. No one really knows what the outcome will be and this uncertainty is challenging.
nCipher: Can you tell us a little more about some of the regional compliance regulations affecting customers?
PC: Amsterdam is in The Netherlands, so governed by the GDPR as with all EU countries.
nCipher: What type of advice have you given local customers?
PC: A few weeks ago there were some commentators starting to question whether or not the GDPR had teeth. After all, given all the noise, we still found ourselves over a year post-launch with record breaking number of breaches being reported and no one getting fined. Then, in the space of just a few days we saw British Airways and Marriott Hotels get slapped with fines in the hundreds of millions. This has given a stark reminder to businesses all over the EU that they need to get their houses in order when it comes to data security. Clearly nCipher is in a great position to help here as a result of our experience in this area.
It’s also reassuring for our customers and partners in the Netherlands to know that we have a significant presence in the local area, Our EMEA VP of Sales is based near Amsterdam (Paul van Hugte), as are our EMEA heads of business development and sales operations. We also have local sales, sales engineering and channel management resources making this a strong regional team.
Given this, it should come as no surprise, that we will be hosting our Channel Partner Conference in Amsterdam in October this year at the beautiful Koepelkerk.
nCipher: When visiting Amsterdam, is there a specific food or beverage you always seek out?
PC: There’s a lot to say on this topic!
Dutch cheese is fantastic and my favourite is one called Reypenaer, you can visit their tasting rooms and try all of the varieties. A little herring sandwich, or “broodje haring” picked up from a herring street cart is a must try, too.
There are many overseas influences on Amsterdam’s food as a result of the vast amount of exploration and trade by Dutch explorers and merchants in the 17th and 18th centuries. Indonesian food is one of the best and a “Rijsttafel” (or rice table) is a great way to experience this. It is medley of small dishes that allow you to try all of the flavours of the Spice Islands.
If you are visiting in Winter, try a “Stamppot” which is a stew of potatoes, vegetables and meat, usually served in a cast iron pot or a bowl of thick Dutch pea soup with ham.
On the sweeter side of things we have “poffertjes” which are tiny, fluffy pancakes and “stroopwafel” which are thin waffles with sweet syrup sandwiched in the middle – both wonderful with a coffee. Dutch liquorice comes in almost infinite varieties from the very sweet to the very salty. My favourite is somewhere in the middle!
I can’t sign off without mentioning beer. Beer cafes are all over the city and there are many that are wonderfully old and atmospheric. There is often huge choice with some offering, literally, hundreds of beers from both the Netherlands and Belgium. Café Gollem on Ramsteeg is one I seem to keep going back to.
nCipher: If you wrote about song about Amsterdam for your blues band, what would you call it?
I am fascinated by the way the light plays on the water – both by day and by night. The images that get created are beautiful and memorable with fragments of buildings, streetlights and many colours. It could definitely provoke a song and “Reflections” is a good working title!