A Final Day in the Netherlands

Whoa, what’s that? Is it really the last day of the trip? It can’t be, I’m just now getting over my jet lag!

Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that our week in the Netherlands has come to an end. The week went by in a blur of lectures, chocolate, and red lights. Memories were made, personal quirks of Master of Accounting students were uncovered, and a disdain for croquettes was created. I could go on for a while about the various subjects we covered over the past week in lectures and the activities we did in our free time, but I would hate to be repetitive. At the end I’ll attempt to wrap up the week after discussing the events of Friday, but until then, here are the nitty-gritty details of the day:

After a delicious hotel breakfast (as usual mine consisted of massive amounts of banana smoothie), we climbed aboard the charter bus and took a trip to Loyens and Loeff (L&L), a tax consulting firm that deals with domestic and international tax issues. Arco Bobeldijk, a tax partner at L&L, as well as Vincent van der Lans, a senior tax manager with a specialization in US and NL tax differences, gave a presentation. They discussed the issues of major companies (e.g. Starbucks, IKEA, and Amazon) and their desire to avoid unnecessary tax liability, as well as the various benefits and complexities that come with using a country like the Netherlands to establish an overarching holding company.

The brief description above does not do Loyens and Loeff justice. When we arrived at their building, it blended in well with the other curving, glass-heavy buildings in the Amsterdam business sector, but when we walked in, it was breathtaking. I’m convinced whoever designed the interior of the L&L building had been deprived of a tree house as a child, and once they were given the budget, decided to fulfill their dream and build the biggest tree house imaginable. The building had a retractable glass roof that allowed for natural light to play off the glass walls, glass elevators, glass desks, glass doors, glass cups, and glass slippers within the building (kidding about the last one). Anything that wasn’t breakable by a well-thrown stone, was made out of beautiful wood.  The main lobby had four spiral staircases, one in each corner that wound up to the four floors. The lobby itself could sit a full orchestra (literally, apparently L&L brings in the local Dutch orchestra to play for parties and company functions). When we entered the main conference room I had to hold back the urge to take my shoes off, and just lie face down on the luscious, full carpet that covered the floor like a thick sheet of cream-colored snow. Not only was the facility amazing, but the people who spoke to us were some of the most kind and charming people we met on the trip. They took the time to shake hands with all of us and introduce themselves to everyone in the group. During breaks, Arco and Vincent walked among us and struck up conversations ranging from tax law to travel plans. When we departed, they gave us gift bags with various articles of Loyens and Loeff swag. In short, I wanted to hide in the bathroom after hours and never leave.

After we were dragged away from L&L, back onto the charter bus, we took a trip back to the Nyenrode campus. There, we enjoyed a lunch with some of the students at Nyenrode. It was fun to discuss various cultural differences and similarities between the two countries, and find some common interests.  In my case, I learned some new Dutch words that probably shouldn’t be repeated on this blog.

After lunch we gathered in the main lecture room for a presentation from Erik Uitenbogaart CPA, who works at LyondellBasell (LB). Although none of us had heard of the company before Mr. Uitenbogaart began his lecture, the chemical and plastics manufacturer is actually one of the largest in the world, with revenues of over $45 billion, and more than 13,000 employees worldwide. The lecture focused on the tax differences between the US and the Netherlands, and the drivers of tax planning, and was in itself, very interesting.

To finish the day we took the commuter bus to the nearby town of Maarssen, and ate a delectable meal (all the meals we had were delicious) at a local restaurant. After dinner, our tour guide took us to the local watering hole, which also happened to be the local ice skating rink. There I experienced the wonder that is “hot wine” (surprise, surprise, it’s hot wine!) and witnessed many of my fellow cohort members fall down while trying to weave their way through the throngs of teenagers and children zipping around the ice rink.

All in all, it was one heck of a week. For a fledgling program only in its second year, it certainly had its pitfalls, but I’m glad I went nonetheless. I learned more about my fellow cohort members, and made some new connections that I would have otherwise missed out on. The feeling of being wined and dined  is certainly an enjoyable one, and a worthy experience in itself. The knowledge we took away was extremely valuable, and it was wonderful to see some real life examples of what we have been learning in class. In addition, you can feel free to travel abroad after the trip wherever you please. In my case, I’m off to Italy and Greece for the next two weeks with two other MAcc students (here’s to not killing each other by the end of the trip!). I would highly recommend the Nyenrode trip to any future MAcc student.

Thanks for reading. Alec Bierly, signing off.

—Alec Bierly, MAcc ’14

Written by UO Business

The UO Lundquist College of Business empowers an engaged community of students, faculty, staff, and stakeholders who create, apply, and disseminate knowledge that contributes significantly to their professions, communities, and society. The college delivers a dynamic learning environment where world-class professors engage and get to know students, where students work on real projects for real companies, and where alumni go on to high-powered jobs worldwide.