Interview Hasnaa Beni Driss
Hasnaa Beni Driss (25) is one of the three nominees for the ECHO Award in the Loyens & Loeff Law & Tax category.
Born in Morocco, she studies Private law: commercial law practice at the University of Amsterdam. ‘I know all layers of society. That gives me an advantage.’
What does the nomination mean to you?
First and foremost it is a recognition of my achievements. I started high school at Mavo level (vocational level) and took a long road up. The nomination also made me delve into diversity issues, I really consider that a bonus. Personally, I have never had any problems of that nature, for instance at job interviews. To be nominated, I had to write a motivation letter and had to give a presentation, which made me discover that diversity is an important topic for many people. Although I think diversity should emerge bottom up, I do see extra steps are needed to come to solutions. I think it is great that ECHO is committed to that.
What role has your background played in your (school) career so far?
I live in the Netherlands since I am 3 years old and went to primary school in a deprived area, which gives you a setback from the start. To attend university is not an option that is presented to you. You don’t grow up considering those kind of opportunities. At the same time, growing up there also gave me a lot of determination, I have developed a drive to keep on growing. I wanted to find out if I could do higher vocational education, and university after that. I have such a strong drive to be happy, to make something of my life. Personal development is fundamental to me. I am very happy that I went to university.
Who were your role models or important mentors?
My two older sisters are very important to me. Although we all three do something different, they do give me the inspiration to keep on going. They are my foundation.
What can businesses improve when it comes to diversity?
As far as I can see, I would enjoy it when companies enhance diversity because they truly see the added value of it. Not because they have to do it or meet a quota, but because they find important to have a multitude of perspectives represented at the table. I have the impression that there is more and more awareness of this in the legal field, I see that for instance at the faculty of law of the University of Amsterdam.
What aspect of your background do you find valuable for the business world?
Because of where I grew up, I have learned to know different layers of society and I have developed a broad view. I can easily adjust, I am practical and solution-focused as a result of it. To me, a system is never fixed, I know how to make things happen regardless of the circumstances. Unnecessary bureaucracy is not something I like.
What are your ambitions for the future?
First, I will go abroad for a while, to Berlin, to broaden my horizon even more. I will attend classes on philosophy, sociology and anthropology. In the fall of next year I would like to start as a lawyer. At some point I would like to return to university to do a PhD, but first I would like to obtain some practical experience. I hope that I will still be able to do some socially relevant work on the side. Some people find that ambition strange, since I have a commercial degree. To me, it gives you a great perspective to analyse social issues. I am for instance very interested in debt problems: how can we deal with that differently as a society? Perhaps law can provide with a good solutions. I would like to connect the commercial with the social field.