Interview Ramoe Jagesar
Ramoe Jagesar (23) is one of the three nominees for the ECHO Award in the Loyens & Loeff Law & Tax category.
He has a Hindustani-Surinamese background and follows the mr.- drs. program at Erasmus University in Rotterdam. He completed his degree in economics and is now in his final year of LL.M. Commercial & Company Law. ‘People with a migration background are often late bloomers.’
What does the nomination mean to you?
I find it great that I have been nominated. The nomination enables me to show how far you can get in life when people believe in you. What the impact can be when you get certain opportunities. I started high school at the practical level, in my third year I moved up to intermediate level. Thanks to a teacher who believed in me, I was exempted and got the opportunity to move to VWO level, which prepares you for university. I realize that I was lucky and that many students don’t have a teacher like that. As a result, they don’t go to university. It would be amazing if more teachers believe in their students. Working hard gets you very far, but that starts with motivation and sometimes you need someone to see your potential. Especially when you start at the level I started. If you don’t get support, it is much harder. If I wouldn’t have had someone believing in me, then I would have had to take a longer route to get where I am now, and perhaps I would have never made it.
What role has your background played in your (school) career so far?
It never really played a role, until I started thinking about it. As a result of my background I haven’t taken full advantage of the opportunities that I had. That’s what you often see with people with a migration background, they are late bloomers. Once I went to university, I understood what gymnasium-level (highest level at Dutch high school) was good for, or why it is wise to choose the nature & technology profile, since it proves your analytical skills. My background made me find out things at a later stage because no one in my environment was interested. The negative thing about it is that you are already too late for certain positions, like a traineeship or strategy consulting. They expect a spotless school career. That’s a little frustrating. I never learned to look further ahead.
Who were your role models or important mentors?
That teacher was important, without her I would have never received an upgrade to the highest level at high school. Then there was a leadership program, the Pre Academic Program, that was very meaningful to me. When I went to university, it was the first time it was organised. The week-long program focused on first generation students, who’s parents didn’t study, students from intermediate level education, or students who were just insecure about studying at university. I met a lot of people who were also a bit anxious and who had not walked the standard path, just like me. The program was very important for my personal growth and my network. I now work there as a student assistant.
What can businesses improve when it comes to diversity?
To me, diversity within businesses is not only about participating with ramadan or Gay Pride. Sure, these days are important, but they only connect you with your colleagues one day a year. To me, diversity is about the little things. I find it important to try to understand our differences every single day. When I look at myself, Hindustani people are for instance often shy. As a result, we tend to stay more in the background. It helps when others are aware of that. In job application procedures or at fairs they can consider that not everyone reacts in the same way and still has the required qualities.
What aspect of your background do you find valuable for the business world?
That we are always willing to help others, we are always there for them. That’s part of my culture. In a team, I would always check how the others are doing, also on a personal level. It does not have to be in my job description. Looking after others is part of the game.
What are your future ambitions?
I don’t want to limit myself to economic or legal positions, the most important thing to me is that I can have impact, add value. I would like to work at a start-up, or as a manager. As long as I can be part of a team, that is very important to me too. I want to belong, to be part of a family, despite all of our differences.