“I grew up in a small village in the country, where I got involved in all kinds of activities to make life a bit more interesting, from the church choir to jazz ballet. I still vividly remember when I was eight and was standing in the wings waiting to take part in a real-live performance for the very first time: a dance routine in the village hall. That feeling of having to ‘go on’, a mixture of nerves and the delicious feeling of having something to focus on. It was wonderful, although I was always thought of as a rather shy and quiet girl. So I was amazed when they asked me to perform at the end-of-year cabaret at my secondary school.
When I’d finished my education I began working as a policy researcher in Leiden. The work was pleasant enough but I really felt like a square peg in a round hole. My colleagues were all pretty intense and I simply lacked their ambition. Meanwhile, I’d joined an operetta club, where I worked on a ‘serious’ production for the first time. We eventually performed to a packed house in Rijswijk. It was the incentive I’d been waiting for: I handed in my notice, enrolled myself in a cabaret school and took a part-time job with NLO.
Theatre and patents: they’re worlds apart, but actually the combination works quite well. The atmosphere in the NLO office is very informal and there are always interesting people around, often from different cultures. That appeals to me since I’m a real people-watcher. I enjoy seeing what makes them tick and how they differ. Sometimes they provide me with interesting material for my performances. For instance, you can exaggerate some of the characteristics of people you work with closely: that once led to a mildly absurdist performance about a person taking out their frustration on a stapler.
There have been times when I seriously considered going into the theatre full-time. But I’d have to rely on doing commercial entertainment to make a living; frankly I’d rather be in a good amateur production. I think the most important thing is to continue developing myself. And although I find the patent business a little dry, that’s precisely what I’ve managed to achieve at NLO. I’m trusted to do things in my own way and have gained new tasks over the years, which regularly brings me into contact with new people and new characters.
I might still come across as fairly shy or quiet to people who’ve only just met me, and I’ve learned to exploit this contrast during my training as an actor. For instance, when I meet very serious or excessively polite people I tend to think there’s an underlying reason for it. I enjoy slightly confounding people’s expectations.”
2018 was a special year as it’s the year NLO celebrated its 130th anniversary. Over all those years, there’s one specific element that really forms the core of our firm; our people. Professionals who put all their effort in helping clients in any way they can. However, they are far more than IP professionals. We would like to give you some insight in the real people behind NLO. We proudly introduce to you some of our colleagues. This Thursday: Erika Ermens.