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Diversity & Inclusiveness: An Ex-Soldier Turned Entrepreneur In Education

„I strongly believe that today’s world is showing us that the best way to contribute to society – be it in lines of work or any other matter – is out of a true connection on a personal level. All the rest will be a positive consequence of this connection…”

If you go on Peer Stoop’s Linkedin profile, this is what you will first see in his About section. This is how a man starts his story. And, trust us, this is one hell of a story!

It is the story of a man who went from the Royal Dutch Army to being an Entrepreneur in Education, all while trying to figure out and make sense of topics such as Diversity, Cultural Dimensions, Gender, Age, Sexual Orientation and Ability.

In preparation for our next Meetup, which will take place in Cluj-Napoca, at ClujHub, on the 30th of October, we had a chat with Peer about his background. We met Peer several times before but from what we know about him, we can tell you for sure that you will never get enough of his stories.

Different colored shirt sleeves that symbolize diversity
source: www.unsplash.com

The story of Peer Stoop

We’ve heard a lot, in the past, about the relationship between the army and entrepreneurship. Some say it is related to the principles and the discipline that you gain there, that could perfectly apply in entrepreneurship. That might just one side of the story, so we wanted to find out Peer’s story.

After high school, Peer followed his academic education in the military. 

After serving there for about 5 years, he left the Royal Dutch Army and started working at Dutch Immigration.

There, once more, he was confronted with his entrepreneurial mindset.

Since 2001, he is an entrepreneur with a focus on education. For many years he has combined entrepreneurship with working on projects in the public sector and private sector. 

He recently moved to Bucharest for yet another exciting project related to entrepreneurship and education.


 So, Peer, you told us that when you started working at Dutch Immigration, you were „confronted” with your entrepreneurial mindset. Can you tell us, what do you mean by that?

„To me, it was interesting to see that not many people have a pro-active mindset. I consider the pro-active mindset the right mindset for an entrepreneur. Even in the army, given the many boundaries, I noticed that a ‘controlled’ pro-active mindset is essential to be successful in what you do.

Especially during my time at Dutch Immigration, this became a bit of an issue. Colleagues were mostly very reactive. The not so good/bad side of this is that it is very easy to blame others for what’s happening. And I hate that…”

I know that you joined the Royal Dutch Army right after high school. Is it something you always knew you wanted to do? Is there a story behind it?

„There is, in fact, quite a story behind it… It is also a result of me wanting to prove to others – and especially my very unpleasant stepfather – that I am good enough. Turns out, still today, that that in itself is part of my drive in life. I have learned to use it for the good and not let it be my only motivation. Because that wears you out and is not effective. So when I applied for the army it was also from a negative, not so good, starting point. What I learned from that, is that this starting point in itself might not be all too bad, but that you need to let go of it at one point. I learned that relatively fast. That happens when you enter the Special Forces and need to have a clear and clean mind in many, if not all, situations…”

I’ve read before about this relation between the army and entrepreneurship. In the States, for example, they say that the army has delivered more entrepreneurs than any other organization in the world. What would you say are the main touchpoints between these fields?

„That’s hard to say. This is also where culture comes in… The Americans live by ‘the American Dream’ which in itself is very ‘entrepreneurial’. So it would be to easy to conclude there is a clear correlation between the two.

Moreover, the Army, in general, asks you / demands from you to follow a lot of rules. That in itself is a good thing! But blindly following the rules is not always such a good thing. This, for example, was a big difference between the American soldiers and officers in WW2 and the English. The Americans were also instructed to adapt to a situation and improvise based on their own judgment. The English, up until then, had always learned to follow orders from officers. It is stated that this may even the reason why the liberation of the Netherlands had a major setback in September 1944, because the operations were initiated by the British…”

Where do these interests on Diversity, Inclusiveness, Sexual Orientation, and Cultural Differences come from? Is it something you’ve always been interested in? Or did they arise from certain experiences?

„It started when I started working at Dutch Immigration. I was confronted there with my own cultural background. The more I spoke to people from other countries and other cultures, the more I was puzzled by what was happening. I started doing research, started following courses and did an intensive course of a year at the Dutch Royal Institute for the Tropics. That opened, let’s say, my own ‘Box of Pandora’.

It also made me aware that I always considered myself to be ‘just your average middle-class Dutch guy’. Being born and raised in the Netherlands…

Yes, I was aware of the differences. My sexual orientation mostly. But then I became more and more aware that even when you are an ‘unknown’ third-generation migrant, that has a lot of implications.”

So, you recently moved to Romania. What do you think about it? Where does it stand in terms of workplace culture, including diversity and inclusiveness? How about entrepreneurship?

„Haha… well… based on my experiences in life and based on what I have learned from research/theory etc, I believe walking through life is a constant process. And I believe I can only share my experiences and invite people to think about these. 

Having said that… I think that we still have a long way to go in Romania when it comes to diversity and inclusiveness. I noticed already that sexual orientation is quite a big subject, yet hardly anyone really talks about it.

Then there is the discussion in minorities… bit of the same.

And I believe that every entrepreneur has the obligation to change society for the better. To make society a place where everybody feels welcome, safe and happy.”

And this is just the beginning

We would love to add more but…

On one side, everything that had to be said was said.

On the other, there is too much to be said so we will leave Peer at it.

On the 30th of October, Peer Stoop will join us in Cluj-Napoca, at Cluj Hub for a FREE Meetup.

It is a hands-on kind of approach for the meeting so, based on his life story, Peer will try to challenge your own beliefs, values and assumptions related to the topics aforementioned – Diversity, Inclusiveness and together we will think about how we can create a diverse, open and honest workplace.

Everyone is invited!

All you have to do is RSVP at the link below. 🙂

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Innovating Society ajută antreprenorii prin găsirea de soluții inovative la nivel de produs, strategie, oameni, marketing și transformare organizațională. Urmărește activitatea noastră pe canalele de social media:

Facebook / Instagram / Medium 

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