Mark Agterdenbosch’s Journey towards a Smart Economy
SmartTechNXT’s newly appointed Senior Business Advisor for Growth, Mark Agterdenbosch, brings a wealth of international trade experience to the table and is looking towards an exciting future in the rapidly evolving arena of smart technology and automation. His passion for growth through technology is set to make SmartTechNXT a gamechanger in its field within the European and South African markets.
Mark Agterdenbosch’s journey in international trade, investment and relations began in Brussels where, having studied applied economics at university, focussing on the European Union, he worked as a project consultant for the German-Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce (AHK debelux). He then moved to Johannesburg where he joined the Southern African-Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (SANEC) and gained work experience in business expansion, market access, development and investment relations through SANEC’s collaboration with the European Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Returning to the Netherlands after three years, Mark joined SANEC in the Hague and forged strong relationships between Southern Africa and the Netherlands, working on projects such as the World Cup 2010 and boosting business for Dutch companies through their partnerships with Southern African organisations. It wasn’t long before he was offered a position as the first General Manager of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund in order to establish an affiliate office in the Netherlands. Over a four-year period, Mark worked with various South African and Dutch stakeholders to build fundraising strategies and projects focussing on children and youngsters.
When SANEC expanded into the EMEA territory, projects focussing not only on business but on sports, arts and culture reinforced the relationship between South Africa and the Netherlands. Business education and government relations were vital and Mark played an intermediary role in assisting companies in achieving their goals on a multinational level.
Focussing on the here and now
Mark believes that staying focussed is vital to attain deliverables and outcomes and, after twenty years, his focus as a Senior Business Developer has shifted from connecting businesses towards creating business for companies. This extends to forming, building and executing partnerships that ensure local experts are employed and jobs are created to achieve local economic growth.
“In order to achieve this, you need to build trust and be a trusted advisor for companies, looking for specific niches in the market and working in depth with companies to make sure that business execution takes place efficiently and effectively,” says Mark, “And of course with smart technology, sustainability goals, climate change and renewable energy, my focus has developed to promote business for good and tech for good. Nowadays, there is a far greater emphasis on the green and blue economy and on sustainable business rather than pure import and export.”
Mark’s work with SmartTechNXT was a logical step when looking at how businesses can contribute to sustainable development goals. “SmartTechNXT is ideally and uniquely positioned to catalyse international expansion for companies in the Netherlands,” he observes. “Technology and automation are creating better ways for people to operate within many industries, from agriculture to manufacturing, and from farming to logistics, contributing to the welfare of the country. With regards to international trade and investment, smart technology can be used in every sector and can grow the economy of a country faster, better and in a more environmentally sustainable way that is advantageous for products, services and people.”
Looking to the future
Mark spent a number of years living in Johannesburg and has worked with South African organisations for the past twenty years, so his relationship with SmartTechNXT was a welcome step in his journey. He sees the company’s automated business solutions as being essential to future growth in the Dutch economy.
“SmartTechNXT’s products make it possible for every company, from small entrepreneurs to big businesses and organisations, to make processes run more smoothly, assisting companies to more efficiently address skills shortages by building systems to work alongside people – thus making it possible for the existing workforce to have more time available for other activities within the organisation.”
SmartTechNXT contributes effectively to the goals of entrepreneurs and organisations doing business in today’s challenging climate. The company also facilitates expansion for these companies because, as Mark points out, “you can only expand your business when your current business is running smoothly.” SmartTechNXT uses the latest smart technologies to automate business processes in manufacturing, finance, legal and people management. With the goal of creating simplified, people-centric pathways to business transformation and expansion, SmartTechNXT provides Robotic Process Automation products that supercharge business processes and unlock business value.
Robotic Process Automation can play a role in every sector by improving processes and accelerating business growth, thereby creating a need for increased production and employment. This type of automation also creates trust, because service levels and delivery become more consistent and reliable. Mark emphasises that the progressive nature of the Netherlands makes it an ideal market for rapid and extensive growth of Robotic Process Automation and, as a service-minded economy, it is the perfect environment for SmartTechNXT’s automated business solutions.
There is already a high level of digitalisation in the Netherlands and the government embraces all forms of progressive development. As one of the big players in the international market, price competitiveness and delivery are essential in keeping the Netherlands highly competitive within the service and supply chain economy.
“You can only stay at the top if you allow for innovation,” says Mark. “We have an economy with a lot of start-ups, upskilling and a landscape for innovation. To stay on that level you have to implement smart technology, automation and robotics.”
Towards a better world
Mark believes that South African technology businesses can play a crucial role in collaboration and co-creation with Dutch businesses to fight global challenges. The Netherlands has been a strong trade investment partner with South Africa, and creating partnerships for a better world is one of the most important aspects for the development of the two countries.
“The world is ours,” he says. “In the end, we all have the same goals and dreams. So, you need to face the challenges not only in your own area, but in other regions too. SmartTechNXT is doing just that.”