Julie Nieuwenhuijs is a Booking.com HQ recruitment team lead. She lives and works in Amsterdam, hiring talent for different teams in our headquarters. But for 5 weeks a year, Julie is someone else, somewhere else. Away from the canals and lowlands of the Netherlands, she is an off-piste skiing enthusiast, internationally published ski journalist and one half of Instagram ski influencers Dutchiesdoski. For Julie, skiing is much more than a hobby or a pastime, it is a passion as deep as the snow she skis.
But how does someone whose nickname is Juulski, and whose apartment has more skis than chairs, create parity between her passion and her profession? We sat down with the self-proclaimed ‘powder addict’ (the snowy variety) to talk balancing ski trips to the backcountry and a career in travel recruitment.
So, just to start things off, how did you come to work for Booking.com?
My cousin works for Booking.com. He still works here. And he invited me for lunch. I came upstairs to the canteen and was amazed by the energy, the international environment, and thought, this is so cool, I want to be a part of this.
And what about skiing, how did you get into that?
I was born in America, brought up in the Netherlands, but my mother is French, and we would spend time visiting my grandmother in the Alps when I was young. I didn’t actually like skiing at first. I found it a bit boring. Then I discovered you could ski off-piste. That’s when I got hooked. Then I went to Canada to be a ski instructor and there I saw that skiing is a lifestyle, it’s not just a sport. People live for skiing. It was inspiring. People who choose their passion, instead of just following money.
So, is it safe to say skiing is more than just a hobby for you?
It’s a passion. But it’s not just about the skiing; it’s about being in the outdoors. Walking up a mountain is like meditation for me.
Where’s been the best place you’ve explored?
There are a lot of beautiful places and I’ve been lucky that i’ve been able to ski in a variety of them. However, Norway, or anywhere in the arctic, is maybe the most special, because there you have the sea and the snow. And as you hike up, you get a different perspective on it. The sharp white peaks rise from the fjords like triangular pillars, in stark contrast with the clear blue skies. Yeah, it’s magical. It’s really something else.
Something you enjoy so much and spend so much time doing must have had a big impact on your life, including your career?
Skiing, like in life, you always need to be able to adjust. Going off-piste has taught me to say, “where do I want to go and how do I get there? It has taught me to literally go off-the-beaten path and to figure out my own route to my goal. In work, I like being outside my comfort zone. I like adventure. I also like to get things done. What I like about Booking.com is that you don’t have to follow a fixed path. I like figuring out how to approach something, how to do it and who can help me with it. I think skiing has taught me a lot of that.
You’re also a ski journalist, right?
Yeah, we basically just made up that title. When we started, we just had these pink business cards, saying ‘ski journalist’. Then people began saying, “oh, you’re the ski journalists”. It started out as a joke, but that’s what we actually became. In a way, the ski journalist business has also taught me a lot about work. If you want something hard enough and you work for it, you’re going to get there.
Way to own it. You’ve had articles published around the world. Is it tough getting your articles out there?
With trying to sell my articles to editors, you may get 100 nos, but you only need one yes. Recruitment is quite similar. And I like the chase.
Is being able to pursue your passion so freely a big motivator for you?
Yeah. I mean, Booking.com has been great for me when it comes to getting time to spend on my powder addiction [laughs]. And because of that, I feel like I can bring my whole self to work, because they also value what I do outside work. And for me that’s really important. So I’m here and I want to push myself, I want to do well, because I get opportunities here that I wouldn’t necessarily get somewhere else. I never thought I could work in a company where I could actually be so open about what I really like to do. If I can work in a job that I love, and also pursue my passion, it’s perfect; why would I go somewhere else?
So, what’s next?
Well now, I’ve started to learn how to surf. With skiing, I’ve spent so much time in perfect conditions that when it’s not perfect, it’s easy to say no to going out and just stay inside. For me now, it’s all about who I ski with. And that’s why I like the ski journalism, because it gives me another focus, so I’m not just skiing, and it keeps it interesting. But surfing is completely new, even if I’m in the water and only have bad waves, I still feel like I’ve had the best day ever.
Sounds like you have plenty more adventures ahead of you, Julie. Thanks for sharing.