If your partner finds a job abroad and you move with him or her, the barriers can be quite heavy at first: you don't know anyone yet, you don't speak the language (well) and you have little to do. At Sioux they understand how nice a helping hand can be; here, partners of internationals get the chance to settle down in the Netherlands. 'All cultures come together in the Sioux Labs' kitchen', says hospitality manager Joris Soetendal.
The idea of giving partners of expats the chance to start as hosts at Sioux already existed when Joris (on the right side of the photo) joined Sioux Labs, Sioux's bourgondic living room in Eindhoven, in 2021. At the time, the venue had just outgrown its pop-up company restaurant phase. Joris and his 25 years of catering experience came in handy. Fair is fair: the totally different corporate culture took some getting used to. 'I immediately liked the regularity: normal working days, free weekends, just being able to join the Christmas dinner. But I had to kick off from the high pressure I was under as catering manager: being available 24/7, excelling during top events like Glow and the Dutch Design Week, a constant focus on turnover, costs and margins. At Sioux Labs, life was suddenly not about making a profit, but about making people happy. Sioux wants employees and their partners to have a good time and is willing to go the extra mile for that. I really like that.'
At full speed
Meet, eat & have fun - that's what it's all about at Sioux Labs. Joris' team not only provides healthy lunches and dinners (twice a week) for employees but also organizes meetings and events, such as sport workshops, drinks, knowledge events, board game nights, barbecues and Inipi's (inspiring workshops). 'When I started here, we only provided take-away lunches because of corona. Now we are running at full speed again. It's great fun to organize big events, such as a summer barbecue for over 350 guests. So there is plenty of work for the eight hostesses we employ. The cooking is taken care of by professional chefs, our hostesses do the rest.'
From all corners of the world
Six of the eight hostesses now working at Sioux Labs ended up there through their partners. 'The women come from all corners of the world. Because Dutch is still too difficult for most of them at first, we speak a lot of English. And if even that becomes too complicated, we get Google Translate,' Joris says. Moreover, most hostesses start without catering experience, often doing something completely different in their home country. 'It does indeed take a bit extra to get them properly trained, but that serves a higher purpose: it is also a way to help them get started in the Netherlands. They learn the language and build their community. I like to think along with them about housing or work that better suits their capabilities. If I can do something for them through my network, I am happy to do so. The idea is that in three years they will have settled in such a way that they can continue on their own.'
Larisa is one of the eight hostesses on the team and has been working at Sioux Labs since October 2022. She likes it in the Netherlands. 'This country is not big, but it is interesting. My husband and I have visited many wonderful museums and churches. We live in a village nearby, so I can cycle to work. It is ideal that there are so many good cycle lanes. In my home country, cycling is life-threatening, there you can only cycle safely in a park.' In her homeland, Larisa completed three studies - in engineering, design and archiving - but her English is not yet good enough to find work in them. 'The language is still really a barrier, this work is a good way to at least improve my English - and I even want to learn Dutch as well. I like it at Sioux Labs, the people are friendly and helpful. I hope I can stay here for the time being.'
Finding there way
One of the best examples Joris has seen over the past two years is Kathy moving on to Sioux's ICT helpdesk and Katinka now working as a secretary. 'Although I normally want to keep good employees on my team, in this case, I am happy when they leave Sioux Labs. It means they have found their way and I can give someone else another chance.'