May 2023 | Written by – Ariel Slaughter

This March something spectacular happened. In addition to launching the third edition of the Talent100 program and the tenth edition of Women for Women (WfW) Eindhoven, the Expat Spouses Initiative with our partners also expanded the Women for Women program to Breda! 

Introducing Women for Women Breda 

Women for Women Breda is a collaboration between the Expat Spouses Initiative, the Living In program of the Holland Expat Center South and Breda Internationals. It represents the first expansion of the Women to Women program beyond Eindhoven to another regional city, a trend we hope to see repeated in the years to come.  

The first WfW Breda edition has ten participating local international Talents from various industries including education, marketing, and human resources. By their stand and serving as mentors are ten local Ambassadors from organizations like Ericsson, Amgen, Avans Hogeschool, Breda University, and Lamb Weston. These Talents, like in all WFW editions, are guided through a series of workshops and training sessions by our experienced coaches and trainers to help clarify their professional goals, make a plan, and rejuvenate their CVs and LinkedIn profiles. Their Ambassadors provide support throughout the whole process and are invaluable touchpoints to Dutch culture and the labor market. The goal of the program is to equipped the Talents with specialized knowledge of the labor market so they will be ready to tackle it head-on within three months.  

Progress Report 

But that’s what the future holds for our WfW Breda Talents. Right now, they are two months into the process that will jumpstart their careers in Brabant and Carmen Rasmussen has already seen big changes in them:  

“Women for Women Breda just kicked off two months ago and our international Talents have grown and expanded their network in no time. Thanks to our empowering Ambassadors who know exactly how it feels like to be the partner in another country. Together they form a strong bond to kick start their career opportunities.”   

Carmen is the Living In Coordinator for Breda and West Brabant of Holland Expat Center South, who is part of the team coordinating the Breda program and has been in close contact with the Talents from the very beginning. 

The Breda Ambassadors too have seen how the Talents have changed in such a short period of time. Jacqueline Verschoor, sales and liaison agent at Chassé Theater, had this to say about the progress of her Talent, Simonetta Cota and her role in that transformation:   

“Simo(netta) and I got on very well from the start. I think she is a brave, perseverant young lady, who is determined to achieve her goals to find a job here in Breda. I am trying to help her as much as I can by asking my network to look out for her, bring her in contact with a few people and basically to help her along. She has had a few informal interviews so far and is expanding her own network. She has also joined the international group of Chassé Cinema, which for her is a lovely step further in her social life. I have confidence in Simo and am sure she and I will be successful in this journey together.”  

In Their Own Words 

And what about the Talents themselves? When asked about their experiences so far and their expectations, Sukanya Vashishtha, Simonetta Cota, Cristine Otte, and Berran Turncer had a lot to say. 

Sukanya Vashishtha, a Montessori-method educator, shared: 

“Joining WfW Breda has been quite the experience. For me, it all started because, like many other women, I put my career on pause to start a family and then moved with my husband to the Netherlands. Now I am looking to restart my career, especially since my daughter is old enough! WfW is much more than just a group to network. It is a support system, a lifeline and sometimes just hearing the reassuring words from these amazing ladies that “you can do it”, “it is not too late”, “don’t worry!” is more than enough to get you through the rough days. It has been a privilege to be able to meet with some extraordinary women and not only do I feel encouraged after each meeting, but also I have made some new friends and gained memorable experiences.”  

Simonetta Cota, a UX & UI designer with a focus on developing digital solutions for SMEs and start-ups, said:  

“When you apply for Women for Women, you probably expect that someone will perform the magic for you so that after three months you can sit down and sign a contract, but that is not even remotely indicative of what [the program] does for you. [It]helps you refocus on yourself, your skills and your goals. It teaches you how to reopen yourself to people and bring out the most authentic part of you, leaving behind the fear of not being enough. Women for Women makes you realize how powerful a cup of coffee can be, and how crucial it is to believe in yourself and surround yourself with connections that will lead you into the professional landscape of North Brabant.”  

Berran Turncer, a teacher, brand advisor & marketer, offered:

“I am happy that I found my tribe finally in this city. The ladies I met are all special in different ways. We contribute to each other a lot while we are learning many new things from the first Women for Women Program in Breda.”  




And finally Cristina Otte, a marketing manager with a business partner mindset, added: 


“I love challenges, and moving to another country came into my list! I left everything behind in my home country and came to Holland with a heart full of expectations and the possibility of learning a lot, meeting new people, speaking a new language and having contact with different cultures. But all this was paused by the pandemic! This year, I [want to push the rewind button] on my life with the help of the Women for Women Breda program. Being able to build a professional network, understand how the Dutch job market works, and how my experience and values fit here is all I need! I hope this model can be replicated in many countries, as it is focused on values that I consider essential: people, collaboration, and a wealth of different worldviews and perspectives.”  


Thank you and well said Talents! 

The Expat Spouses Initiative remains dedicated to advancing dual-career support for the many international accompany partners and spouses that arrive in the Brainport region every year. We hope that in the future we’ll be able to offer a Women for Women program in other cities across the Netherlands, so that every international Talent can build their professional careers and feel at home in their new surroundings. For now, we are pleased with how the Breda edition is going and look forward to ending Women for Women Breda in-style at the Closing Finale on June 1, 2023 

We encourage you to read more success stories from previous Talent100 participants and more on the Tips, Trips, and Stories from our Community section to learn how ESI supports international talent achieve dual career success. 

For companies, HR professionals and recruiters: 

Are you interested in meeting the Women for Women Breda Talents mentioned above and their colleagues? Then, register for the Closing Finale! It is a unique opportunity to get inspired by C-level and other influential speakers (to be announced) and end your search for qualified talent in one extraordinary event.