18 April 2023

Haije Dijkstra

Five questions to Menno Snel

On 1 February 2023, Menno Snel joined Hague as Partner. Snel advises clients on the major transitions of our time – with specific focus on energy, sustainability, technology and finance. But what exactly does this entail? Junior Advisor Haije Dijkstra asked Menno five questions.  

Why did you decide to accept Hague's offer?

“When I received Hague’s offer, I was immediately excited. The organisation has established a good reputation in The Hague in recent years by connecting business and government. Hague speaks the language of both worlds, which sometimes seem to have difficulty understanding each other. Personally, I have worked with the business world as a government official, as a state secretary and in various positions. And I have also seen that there are sometimes many unjustified opinions about how things work ‘on the other side of the table’. I am convinced that the great challenges of our time can only be solved by seeking constructive cooperation with an open mind. To this end, Mark Rutte taught me not to fill in for someone else. That happens far too often and leads to persistent misunderstandings.”

What is your first impression of Hague?

“These first two months I have mainly spent getting to know employees and clients. I also went on working visits to our offices in Paris and Brussels. This gave me the opportunity to get to know our organisation better. There really is a lot of positive energy in the teams: the core is formed by ambitious young professionals with a lot to offer, supported by some experienced forces. In addition, I am very impressed by the impact Hague is making at different organisations. I am very much looking forward to working with my colleagues to help our clients achieve their goals.”

What is your vision for the profession?

“I think the more traditional lobbying, which is often seen by the outside world as some shadowy hustling in back rooms, really doesn’t work anymore in 2023. I believe much more in the importance of having a good story about who you are and what you want to achieve. Public affairs and stakeholder management is only successful when it is closely linked to the organisation’s own actions and vision. And communicating that vision in the public debate is now more important than ever. What do you actually stand for as a company? How will you, as an organisation, help achieving common societal goals? You shouldn’t just come asking for something in The Hague, but also need something to offer. In the coming period, for instance, there will be a lot of emphasis on the strategic choices organisations have to make about sustainability and corporate responsibility.”

You have a lot of experience in energy transition. What challenges do you see there?

“In the energy transition, important knots have to be cut in the short term. Both by the government and the private sector. Think of the difficult choices we have to make in the Netherlands about building our hydrogen economy or the possibilities of storing CO2 under the North Sea. In addition, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has made Europe aware of its dependence on energy from other countries. Consider also the consequences of the privatisation and liberalisation drive, which have left their mark on the energy market in recent decades. This has an influence in the social debate on market regulation – and the relationship between public and private – in the energy transition. In doing so, we should not regard the Netherlands as an island on its own: we can guide the energy transition better when we look across borders and actively seek European cooperation.”

Can the financial sector contribute to accelerating the transition to a sustainable society?

“Of course, without a doubt! In recent years, I have worked in both public and private positions in the financial sector. I strongly believe that we need to involve the financial sector much more in all major transitions to achieve our policy goals. There is sufficient funding available in the Netherlands, but there is still too little domestic venture capital. There are plenty of new parties available in the market that can provide it. Investors often find the energy transition in the Netherlands very interesting to commit to on a long-term basis, but logically have questions about the political stability and public commitment in our country. I am happy that I will be able to make my active contribution at Hague Corporate Affairs to constructive cooperation between government and market parties.”

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18 April 2023

Haije Dijkstra

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