Interview with Jannie van der Velden, Annemarie Reinders and Gilberto Arduini, service managers at the 900 Mahler, Intermezzo and Xavier residential towers.

Recent years have seen more and more striking apartment buildings go up all around Zuidas. With a varied range of residents and multitudes of floors to be managed, demand for service managers has been high. Hello Zuidas talked to three of them about their daily work and what it’s like to be ‘the eyes and ears’ of these buildings.

What brought you to Zuidas?

Jannie: ‘I’ve worked in Zuidas for four years now, and right from the start this job felt like a perfect fit. When I started at 900 Mahler the building wasn’t finished yet, so I experienced mainly the last phase of construction. Once the moment came for everyone to move in, it was very special.’ Gilberto: ‘I started out in the hospitality industry and worked as a manager at a beach restaurant for several years. In November 2019 I decided to make a change and that’s how I wound up here. This job lets me use my affinity for service and other skills, such as my eye for detail and my approachable attitude. I’ve been working in Xavier since April and loving it.’ Annemarie: ‘I started out in aviation, flying as a purser for different airlines for 14 years. Of course, in that line of work, everything revolves around service. At the same time, I had a passion for interiors. At some point I read an article about hospitality and the job of a service manager. That appealed to me straight away, as it was in line with my previous work experience. After learning the ropes, I was offered a job at Intermezzo, where they in the process of setting up a new and improved reception desk and system.’

What do your jobs entail?

Annemarie: ‘First of all, we create an atmosphere of safety and inspect building hygiene daily. Is everything in order? Are all the doors closing properly? And whatever else comes up.’ Jannie: ‘Now especially, everything needs to be squeaky clean, like the lifts and door handles. We also take deliveries and make sure there are fresh flowers at the entrances. We also manage the key safe for people like cleaners. We use a log book to keep track of everything, from visiting technicians to drinking a cup of coffee with a resident. Lastly, we’re responsible for building maintenance and we receive workers such as window washers and monitor technical affairs. All that adds up to a full working day.’ Gilberto: ‘Everything has to look shipshape and be organized. As service managers, we need to be perfectionists and make sure everything is right, down to the last detail.’ Annemarie: ‘We use an app to keep residents up to date about everything to do with the building, and that also allows them to tell us what they need. Ever since the corona crisis started we’ve got five new puppies in the building, so if residents ask for help we can do that too. For example; arranging a dog-walking service and letting the dog walkers in. You develop a bond with residents, so we’re a bit sad whenever people move out of the building to live somewhere else.’

Is there anything special about working in Zuidas? Do you think this district is different other residential areas in Amsterdam?

Jannie: ‘Yes, it is special and that’s because Zuidas has a reputation. In some ways positive, in others maybe less so, but the overall consensus is that it still feels like a business district.’ Gilberto: ‘When I tell people I work here as a service manager, they’re often surprised that people actually live here. So there’s definitely a prevailing image of this area as a professional, formal setting.’

Have you noticed a shift within Zuidas towards becoming more of a place to live? 

Annemarie: ‘Yes, the changes are noticeable. Now with the playground equipment and planters being set up that shift even more visible, and of course we’re also getting a cinema and a library. Those elements make it turn into more of a residential neighbourhood and thus softens the image of this being a business district.’ Gilberto: ‘It took a while for the focus to really shift towards this area as a place to live. Most of what had been built here was offices. Now Gershwinlaan is becoming working.’ Jannie: ‘I see it as part of my job to connect residents socially, and those relationships do regularly develop. I set up drinks or dinner someplace in Zuidas for residents twice a year. Things like that make it feel like more of a community.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers of Hello Zuidas? 

Annemarie: ‘What I’ve noticed and love is that all three of us view our jobs as a really positive element. That’s so important, because that’s how you ensure it’s pleasant for the people who live here.’ Jannie: ‘Absolutely. What’s also special is that while you see loads of people every day, you do a lot on your own. When you start your day at 7am, it’s just you.’ Annemarie: ‘Being there and providing a service for others, that’s what makes this job so wonderful for me.’ Gilberto: ‘You can tell straight off if a building’s got a service manager or not, just from the overall ambiance and how tidy it looks. Getting that feedback from residents is always a great compliment to receive. In the end, those are the people you’re doing it for.’increasingly linked up with Buitenveldert, creating a better transition from living to