What differences did you notice?
Masino: “I can’t believe how well you speak English. I heard about that, but English is really the second language here. That’s nice for me, but also ensures that companies can get a ‘soft landing’ here. I want to mention it because you think that is normal, but even in Europe it is not normal. In Italy I really have to do my best to distinguish English words through the heavy accent, and in Germany it is not normal to have a conversation in English either. Here it is: from young people to old people: you can ‘just’ speak English very well.
Anyway, you asked about the differences… I think connectivity is a very important one. When you get off the train, the buses are already there. And when you get off the bus, you get on the streetcar in no time. And the role of bicycles in that really stands out: we also have bike lanes, but they’re empty. Here you can cycle beautifully through the greenery and you’re fast too! I also notice that many people walk in the centre of Utrecht and get all the space they need. In terms of connectivity, we really could learn a thing or two from the Dutch.
At the risk of getting stuck in clichés: you are very direct. And I appreciate that enormously. You know where you stand. I have no idea how that came about, but I think it’s fairly unique. I think it’s already different in Germany and Belgium. For trade this is a big advantage: you can assume that what is said is what is meant. So you can get to deals together relatively quickly.”