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18 February 2020

Software Programmer Etienne Smith swapped the African sun for drearier Dutch climes

“A world of difference in mindset and team spirit”


You have dreamers and go-getters.

Etienne Smith belongs to the last category. He was born (in 1981) and raised in Pretoria, the governmental capital of South Africa. “A beautiful country, with sadly still enormous inequality between rich and poor. Unemployment creates social problems and unrest. I had a great job, because just like here, there’s a great shortage of programmers, but I wanted to leave. I want to discover the world and I’ve focused my attention on Europe.”

Etienne had made a shortlist of countries where he would like to live. “I’m convinced this is the ultimate part of the world to live and work. The Netherlands is a safe, economically stable and tolerant country where you also receive plenty of opportunities as a foreigner and the cold winter is a welcome break for me from the unrelenting African heat.”


With practical knowledge you can start work straight away at Dynamic People

“Making plans to emigrate is fun, but you can only get a visa if you have a job to go to. I found Dynamic People via a recruiting agency. After a few Skype calls – several with Oscar Zeekant, one with a tech guy and one with Neil Kersten, a South African colleague who had started here a year earlier – we clinched a deal and on Monday July 1, 2019 I started work here. I landed the previous Friday, so I hardly had time to acclimatize at all, but I met some lovely colleagues who not only showed me the ropes, but also helped me find a house etc.”


Dynamic People? Approachable and open minded!

“The overall pleasant atmosphere between colleagues is like a breath of fresh air. Dynamic People has a flat organisational structure so different to the common management structures found in South Africa. There is practically no language barrier. My mother tongue is Afrikaans, but I am used to speaking English and that takes you a long way in the Netherlands and certainly in our industry. Reading is certainly not a problem anyway, because Dutch is almost the same as Afrikaans. Speaking Dutch fluently is only a matter of time. Practice makes perfect and I had already taken some language lessons in Johannesburg in preparation and I seem to be managing okay. It’s only during the work’s Friday afternoon drinks gathering that the chatter is sometimes a bit too fast,” he laughs.


The Netherlands is a beautiful country where everything is well organized

“I sometimes hear people complaining on the platform, but if you come from abroad you can judge like no other how well organized everything is here in the Netherlands. A train that’s delayed still runs! I travel almost everywhere by train. I live in Haarlem which has excellent transport links to the office and also when I’m with clients, travelling by public transport works well. To anywhere in the Netherlands really. Visiting clients is fun because you build up a rapport very quickly and gain a good insight into the client’s requirements, but I do a lot of the programming work at the office. Our company is located in a spacious building with lots of natural light. A lovely, open space, allowing you to have close contact with your immediate co-workers.”


As a Software Programmer, you give substance to the additional client requirements

“The solutions we sell consist of a mix of standard and custom software and implementation. Together with my colleagues, I ensure that special client requirements are met by adding extra features and by automating manual operations. That’s enjoyable work, because you can really see what you’re building and therefore have pride of a job well done. Dynamic People has a well-balanced product portfolio and interesting clients, but the most important thing for me is that the people who work here are really nice. People, even the slightly older ones, are young at heart, open-minded and are highly knowledgeable. I have built up a very good relationship with everyone in a very short period of time and find Dynamic People sufficiently challenging because we are always working with the latest techniques. I’ve found my niche here and now I feel completely at home in the Netherlands.”