10 Years of Fronteer | Nicole was here before Fronteer was…

10 years Fronteer. Wow. Without realising it 10 years went by and we are celebrating our anniversary! 10 years of people joining our team and moving on to find new fronteers. We thought it would be great to take this moment to look back and catch up with the people that have been part of the team over the years. Year by year we’ll move from 2008 – our birth year – to 2019. Today, we put the spotlight on the first Fronteer employee (who actually worked at Fronteer before it was even officially named ‘Fronteer Strategy’). Introducing: Nicole van de Velde, former strategist at Fronteer.

How did you end up at Fronteer?

I had just gotten back from traveling and was looking for a job. A former professor of Delft University introduced me to Martijn, who was in the process of starting up ‘Pater Consultants’. His business was growing so he was looking for someone to start his business with. Martijn called me within a week of the professor matching us and I (still in the globetrotter mood) stepped into his office on my flip flops.  

Who was your game changing client?

The Philips project in New York. Martijn, James and I had to share an apartment together because all hotels in the city were booked. In the evening we stood on the rooftop to reflect on the workshops of the previous day. That just felt right, so we thought: ‘why not introduce the rooftop as a creative session?’ And that’s how the Rooftop co-creation session came to be. Cool to have been at the start of that. Of course in the years following our NY rooftop session the method was further optimised.

What is your most memorable experience?

I have several: the first project I did with Martijn was for Heineken. I was such a rookie then. We had to do a presentation in the boardroom and looking back I can only think: who the hell did I think I was – advising them?

But also the Prinsengracht office with Teddy (Martijn’s daughter) sleeping on the ground. And where we had a tree growing through the sewage pipe. And of course: Nokia calling to approve a mega project, Martijn had done extensive research on the client and even knew he was into motorcycles. Oh and of course the first time that someone actually knew Fronteer when I told them where I worked, ‘WOW, really?!’

What was your most awkward moment?

I had just found out I was pregnant when we had an afternoon of drinks planned on a tiny boat in the Amsterdam canals. I had to secretly throw every glass of wine into the canal. Hoping nobody would catch me. I felt awkward the entire time..

What do you take with you in your work/career?

A lot actually, but I only found out much later how much I actually learned. Here goes: At Fronteer, James and Martijn always listened to my opinion. That taught me that you do actually have something to say and that you should never hesitate to speak your mind.

Also, I’ve never been a fan of standing in front of an audience. But Fronteer has given me the experience of facilitating (countless) workshops which does make it much easier now.

Thoughts about Fronteer 10 years?

6 years ago Martijn and James revealed the new name: Fronteer. They also shared their ambitions: one day they wanted employees to be proud to have Fronteer on their cv’s. And that’s what they achieved! They have a wonderful company with an awesome team. They created a culture with serious projects for big clients. But at the same time not taking yourself too seriously and taking time to have fun.

Curious about what Nicole is doing now?
After she left Fronteer, Nicole started her own firm: Studio Dib.
An agency for creative brand strategy, innovation & interior (concept) design.