Not long after I had arrived in Eindhoven in the Netherlands, I heard about a place called the High Tech Campus. It sounded cool, a single location with over 260 companies, including start-ups, scale-ups in the tech space, and HQ to some industry giants. It has often been claimed to be the smartest square km in Europe, and possibly the world. It wasn’t too long before I got to go there for a couple of meetings and events. Every time I went it was like meeting a melting pot of internationals. Everyone was open and friendly, and many were from ‘elsewhere’, something that brought a common bond, and English seemed to be the regular language spoken in the events I attended.
Six months ago I started contracting for a company that has its European HQ at the Campus, looking after their Learning & Development function whilst they were recruiting for a permanent replacement. When I started, we were still in work-from-home mode, so it wasn’t until April that I was in at the campus more than a couple of days a week.
Over the last couple of months, I have gotten more familiar with the campus. I now cycle there from home (on my e-bike), a journey of 11 km that takes just around half an hour. My cycle ride takes me into the city-centre and out the other side on the traditionally red cycle paths that line every road. When I get near the campus, my route takes me alongside the river Dommel, green and lush, finally cycling over a bicycle bridge onto the campus itself. It’s hard not to feel energized after such a journey.
One of the campus traditions for my company, and for many it seems, is a lunch-time walk. On my floor, everyone is invited to join the communal walk, regardless of your department, rank or role. We take one of the footpaths and head down to The Strip, which literally is a strip of restaurants and shops which line one of the large lakes that are a feature of the campus, and then circle back, walking over one of the many open footbridges that cross the lake. There are many extra detours available, raised wooden platforms that run through the reeds around the lake, or paths through the wooded areas, with marked routes, handy for ‘walking meetings’ which are easy to do in this setting.
A noticeable difference in working in the Netherlands compared to the UK is the dress code. Jeans, trainers and t-shirts are regular work attire, for men, it seems. The older generation opt for a more professional look with a collared shirt paired with jeans, or maybe chinos to smarten it up a bit. When I was in the UK this more relaxed European style of dressing was considered to be a reflection of a more ‘avant garde’ approach to business, but once you start biking to work you realise that a large part of this style difference comes from practicality.
It has been a nice feeling to get comfortable being at the campus, from those early days observing others wandering round the campus, and attributing them all as smart, techy people, to realizing that I am now one of them. Ok, maybe not so techy, but you know what I mean.
The campus itself is pretty big, so there are campus bikes available that you can jump on to take yourself to the other side if you have a meeting to get to. Even the post is delivered on a post-bike.
I think it’s an amazing place. It has its own sports field, complete with volleyball courts, cricket field, tennis courts and gym. Every Tuesday I join a Boot Camp, with colleagues from Shimano, where a few of us do circuits outside on the field. There’s a creche, and hairdressers. Every year there’s a campus marathon, using the lake.
Before I moved here I really had no idea how things would work out for me work-wise, but with the High Tech Campus on my doorstep, I really have nothing to worry about.