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Opinion and Insight
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Bike Lanes, Face-plants and Close-knit Advertising: Donna Head on Working in Amsterdam

Finger Music, 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Finger Music's Donna Head on her move to Dam & the excitement of setting up in one of Europe's most popular creative capitals

Bike Lanes, Face-plants and Close-knit Advertising: Donna Head on Working in Amsterdam

Q> How have you found the move to Amsterdam? Have you acclimatised to the bike lanes? I’ve heard they can be pretty hectic!

Donna Head> The transition was easy. I arrived after a six week break last summer. Although I was excited and looking forward to new challenges, relocating to a new city was always going to be slightly nerve racking as I’d been in my previous job for 7.5 years. Plus I was extremely happy living by the sea in Brighton so a new routine was going to be a bit strange. However as soon as I arrived in Amsterdam I knew I’d made the right career and lifestyle change. I’m renting a very cool apartment in a very cool area, centrally in the Jordaan and felt instantly at home, and happy. My commute has been reduced by four hours a day.

I’m used to cycling but it’s crazy here. I had an encounter recently where my bike wheels got caught in a tram line, resulting in a spectacular face plant on a busy road. Highly embarrassing! When I rang John at Finger in London to tell him, I got zero sympathy. In fact he played the Some Mothers Do ‘ave ‘em theme tune down the phone to me. Mean!

Q> What do you think is unique about the city from an advertising perspective? 

DH> Amsterdam is an international creative hub with many global brands using it as their European base. As a result of this, the city is so diverse with a real mix of professionals from different nationalities working here.  Whenever I go to meetings I always have to ask what brought international individuals to Amsterdam. I guess what also makes it unique, is that it’s such a close knit advertising community here. There is a big network of freelancers who are regularly working with the agencies, so everyone knows each other and usually ends up working with familiar faces!

Q> You have a long career in music and sound design. What opportunities do you see in Amsterdam music-wise?

DH> I see many opportunities. Launching a company in Amsterdam that is already established in London, New York and Los Angeles has been a truly fantastic prospect. I’m very proud of our reel, award winning work and roster of composers. Since our launch, we’ve enjoyed meeting new talent and working with really good agencies - not just in the Netherlands but other European territories too. It’s exciting and fresh. The opportunities are endless and it’s my job to place Finger Music Amsterdam on the map and develop our brand.

Q> What have you enjoyed most about working in the city so far?

DH> So much. 
My stress free commute (avoiding tram lines, obviously). 
The fact I was made so welcome when I first moved here - I was fortunate enough to have an existing network of people I knew, but I’ve made many more friends, colleagues and contacts. 
I love the architecture, the culture, the canals, the cool bars, the restaurants and my neighbourhood. - I step into an amazing market on my street most weekends to stock up on unnecessary cheese and fresh flowers!
Amsterdam is such a pretty city, especially at night time with twinkly lights across the canal arches. It feels like I’m in a real life rom com - I have to remember that I live here and I’m not on holiday!
 I’m now enjoying the role reversal of advising people I know who are coming to the city on business. They tend to contact me for tips, advice and connections, which I’m all too glad to share. This year, I can’t wait for King’s Day in April. It’s mental and everyone goes nuts. I’m already planning my ridiculous outfit and what parties to go to.

Q> What plans do you have for Finger Music Amsterdam in 2016?

DH> To work with amazing talent on new and exciting projects. Also, to work with local Agencies, adding fantastic Dutch commercials to our already fantastic reel.

Q> What’s your favourite piece of work to come out of the Netherlands – excluding any of your own?

DH> ‘Wonderful Life’ for PS4. A very cool spot following a player dancing as he embarks on his day living in a PlayStation house. It’s one of the first ads I saw when I arrived in Amsterdam. The Chemical Brothers track absolutely nailed it! 

Q> Have you met any kooky characters working in the city?

DH> Not really. Although a toothless man with terrible hair who sold me flowers in the market last week said I had beautiful eyes and a nice smile. So that made me happy. Who needs Tinder?

Q> Do you have any advice for industry professionals looking to set up in the city? 

DH> Yes. Get to know the locals, embrace the city and have fun integrating. I’m really enjoying all of the above.  

Genre: Music & Sound Design , Strategy/Insight