Faces of Clingendael: Isabel Albers
07 Jun 2023 - 17:20
Source: Clingendael

Who are our hard-working researchers and trainers and what drives them? You might have seen them in the media, explaining geopolitical topics or putting them on the agenda. We offer you a peek behind the scenes in our new series Faces of Clingendael. Today with Clingendael Academy Fellow Isabel Albers.  

‘It’s very hard to reach a successful deal if you’re unaware of your counterpart’s culture’ 

What is your role? 

I am a coordinator and trainer at the Clingendael Academy. I train people from the public and private sectors on skills related to debating, presentation and intercultural communication. I also coordinate several training programmes for diplomats. 

What motivates you to do this job? 

What motivates me is the way the Clingendael Academy works: Taking the participants as point of departure. It’s fairly easy to convey a fixed theory to the people in front of you. In the intercultural trainings, we take the participant’s cases and questions as a starting point. You’ll achieve much more this way.  

Being the daughter of a Dutch father and a Spanish mother, I experienced the influence and impact of different values and perspectives between cultures up close and personal. It’s very hard to reach a successful deal if you are unaware of your counterpart’s culture. This does not only apply to working in a high-level international environment, but also to a domestic setting where you might not have a language barrier, but could encounter totally different business culture than yours.  

What are your interests besides your work? 

I read a lot and I like books in which people’s stories are seemingly isolated but slowly but surely get intertwined. I also like it when the protagonist is a strong female character. A recent book that I read and would recommend is The Revolution. It tells the story about women’s liberation in the Netherlands during the 20th century and that it shows there are still important steps to take.  

What is your advice for young people who aspire your work? 

If you have another background than most people at a certain workplace, you can offer valuable new perspectives, so be open-minded to every kind of opportunity that relates not only to your skills but to who you are. I never thought that I would be giving trainings at an institute like Clingendael, but now I see that I can bring something to the table.  

In the previous episode of this series, your colleague from Clingendael Research Sense Hofstede asked: ‘Based on your expertise, what could you teach your research colleagues like me?’ 

Don’t always put your own norms, values and perspective at the centre. Try seeing things from the other side doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to radically change your judgment. But you can enrich your analysis if you bother to utterly understand where the other comes from.  


Are you interested in our intercultural training given by Isabel and her colleagues? Click here.