Jeroen van der Toolen-passion for life and the Warsaw skyline-Ghelamco

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Jeroen van der Toolen has been living in Poland for over 21 years now. How does a Dutch guy find his way to our country in the 90’s? And what course of events led him to be the head of Ghelamco in the CEE region? His “baby” - the Warsaw Spire, stands tall and proud. It is one of the most prominent buildings in Warsaw. Join us for an episode of real estate development talk, spiced up by some great anecdotes and backpacking stories.
Guest bio
Jeroen van der Toolen is an acknowledged expert in the field of commercial and residential real estate. Currently he holds a position of the head of Ghelamco in the CEE region. He joined Ghelamco in 2003 as a Managing Director for Poland and 3 years later was appointed Managing Director for CEE.
Since its launch on Polish market Ghelamco has delivered over 630 000 sq m of modern office and warehouse surface. As the Managing Director, Jeroen van der Toolen is responsible for Ghelamco’s commercial success. Between 2003-2018 Ghelamco Poland under his management has sold 23 commercial projects worth 1 billion 608.9 million euro.
Jeroen van der Toolen brought bold vision and innovative strategy to company’s operations and expanded Ghelamco’s field of activity to new market sectors.
Creating functional urban tissue that serves the local community and benefits for the city became one of Jeroen van der Toolen priorities. For this purpose „Sztuka w Mieście” Foundation was founded which goal is to improve the quality of urban space through cultural and artistic events. The flagship example of this strategy is the Warsaw Spire office complex with a unique arrangement of its surrounding.
Ghelamco nowadays is an unquestionable leader in sustainable development in Poland, with the highest number of BREEAM-certified office schemes, as well as the first certificate at Excellent level for a completed office building and many design and development awards. In 2017 Ghelamco flagship project - Warsaw Spire was awarded the title of the best office building in the world by the MIPIM Awards.
In this episode:
- you will get Jeroen’s perspective on the changing landscape of Warsaw throughout the years
- Jeroen shares the process, as well as the good and bad of the rise of one of the tallest buildings in Warsaw - the Warsaw Spire
- you will understand the importance of forward thinking in the business of real estate development
- starting in the development business in Poland - a professional perspective
- our guest talks about his backpacking adventures
Episode notes
Jeroen has been living in Poland for over 21 years now. To get to know his story better and understand how he got here in the first place, we must go back to his university years.
While studying economy in Amsterdam, he decided to go abroad. The plan was to travel to Asia. As most of us know, plans are one thing, reality is another. So instead of going to Asia, our guest found himself in Moscow, doing a traineeship for Unilever and preparing a country proposal report for Rabobank in Ukraine.
After finishing his studies, Jeroen started work in Holland. There he received a proposal to go to Poland, which was the consequence of his experience gained in Eastern Europe.
Our guest got settled in Warsaw, even though the beginnings were not that great. He recalls that it took some time to understand the city and find its advantages. At that time he was working for DTZ - one of the largest real estate consulting companies at the time. After three years there, he requested to be moved to another county. There was one person that made this transfer impossible - it was the owner of Ghelamco - Jeroens’s largest client. He requested that Jeroen stays and joins the company as Managing Director. Our guest was 29 at the time.
Through the years Jeroen observed not only the changing landscape of Warsaw. He also understood how the commercial real estate business evolved throughout the years. Facing change is never easy but it is important to grow with the business, be open to the new and resilient when it comes to bureaucracy.
Jeroen describes his vision for the city from a ten year perspective. What is more, he goes into the topic of evolving needs of customers and how developers adjust to fulfill those needs. He notices that the organisations present in Poland are big international companies that have a lot of requirements when it comes to commercial spaces. It is the developers goal to understand those needs and provide an outstanding product.
Concluding, our guest would like you to remember to find and pursue your passion. This, combined with hard work can really get you where you want to be.
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