We are delighted to welcome Ylse van der Schoot to our Blue Box family at North Star! Ylse will begin as North Star Alliance’s new Executive Director on March 1st. She brings with her a strong drive, background and commitment to our team and to our organisation.

Our founding Executive Director, Luke Disney, is extremely positive about the transition to Ylse’s leadership: “I could not feel more confident as I pass the reins of Executive Director over to her”. North Star’s Chair of the Supervisory Board, Bas Janssen, echoed Luke’s sentiments: “We are extremely happy to have Ylse on board to further strengthen North Star’s leadership,” he said. “She brings with her a wealth of experience in the NGO world and business. On top of that, her enthusiasm is contagious. We are all looking forward to start working together in this new set up”.

Before joining North Star, Ylse worked as Investor Relations Director at Oikocredit International. She has a broad range of experience prior to that, including work with the World Population Foundation, Oxfam Novib and the Life & Peace Institute.

We thought that now would be a great time to check-in and get to know Ylse, and to hear about her exciting plans for our organisation. Read more about Ylse’s background, hobbies and inspiring thoughts for the road ahead below:

What have been your first impressions of North Star?

My first impression has been very positive. I am impressed how much has been achieved in only ten years. The (hi)story is great and well explained online and offline, and the atmosphere in the office in Utrecht seems very good, which I like and think is important.

What excites you about this new position and how does it build on your prior professional experiences?

I had three priority preferences for my new position:
◦ Working for an organisation with a useful mission, which always motivated me during my career.
◦ A challenging management position, building upon my strengths.
◦ Working in an international setting, preferably including Africa, the continent where I worked, studied and travelled with great pleasure.
I am very pleased this position ticks all of those (Blue) Boxes!

What do you see as your top priorities for North Star?

Listening to staff, partners, board members and clients would be my top priority. North Star has grown fast over the past ten years. It’s a good moment to reflect together what works well and what could be improved to be ready for the next ten years.

What can North Star’s staff and followers expect to see in the coming year?

You will see an energetic person who will ask a lot of questions, traveling frequently, trying to get to know the people behind North Star’s success and to understand the different realities.

Which of North Star’s PIQuE core values (People, Integrity, Quality, Entrepreneurial Spirit) do you most identify with, and why?

All four are relevant and well-chosen, but if I have to choose I would go for People Matter. Any organization, and definitely North Star Alliance, is created for people and depends on its people to go the extra mile. I get energy from good teamwork, achieving concrete results within a professional environment and a social atmosphere. I hope we can create this energy together and use it to the benefit of all those people in need.

What do you do when you’re not in the office?

Besides working hard, mostly indoors, I love being outdoors. I love playing golf and tennis, and reading books or hosting a BBQ in my garden in Amsterdam, where I live. I love traveling as well. I studied in Zimbabwe and fell in love with the African continent. When I finished my studies, more than 20 years ago, I travelled for 3 months, mostly on my own, from South Africa, via Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, to Zanzibar. Hitchhiking, taking buses, boats, trains, camping and backpacking allowed me to meet a lot of great people. I will never forget the few hundred kilometres in a truck in Mozambique, while my Portuguese was, and still is, very poor. We did not pass any Blue Boxes at the time.

And your favourite food?

My favourite food is definitely Indonesian. Luckily I have an Indonesian sister-in-law who loves cooking the real deal!

Bonus question: Our current Executive Director, Luke Disney, often cites quotes for inspiration. Do you yourself have a go-to inspirational quote?

I do have one! My quote comes from an African inspirational leader, none other than Nelson Mandela: “Courage is not the absence of fear – it’s inspiring others to move beyond it.”

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