Senta, brand strategist
Senta is the Head of the European operations of Brazilian innovation consultancy Mesa. She was born in Belgium and she currently lives in London where she arrived in 2001. She has also lived in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Los Angeles.
“I arrived in London in November 2001. I came for love and I stayed because I felt I found a home. Because everyone in London is from somewhere else. It was like a home for misfits. It gave me a feeling of freedom and excitement”.
What do you consider your nationality to be?
Have you ever considered yourself a foreigner?
I’ve considered myself a foreigner my entire life. I grew up in Belgium to a Dutch father and German mother. They live a bit of a Eurocrat existence so in a way, we were always foreigners: different habits, diets, holidays and even a slightly different accent.
Can you tell us your story as a foreigner?
I arrived in London in November 2001. I came for love and I stayed because I felt I found a home.
What do you enjoy about living abroad?
I found a home because everyone in London is from somewhere else. It was like a home for misfits. It gave me a feeling of freedom and excitement.
Do you remember any personal challenge in adapting to the local culture?
At first sight the English are very easy to deal with and the language is easy too. But the more you live here, the more the challenges and cultural differences become apparent. What I initially found challenging was that the English don’t participate in obvious social pressure. Which means that you feel free but it always means that you feel no one is watching you.
Was there any particular key encounter in the country that helped you, personally or professionally?
I soon made a very dear friend called Tania who still today is one of my best friends. She’s seen it all!
Do you think your professional experience would have been the same if you stayed in your country of origin?
Absolutely no way. You get opportunities in England that are unique. Recruiters here aren’t so obsessed with what you studied at university for example or how much experience you have. They have more of an eye for your potential and for what you can bring to the table.
How do your origins inspire your work?
Growing up in a trilingual country, to parents from different countries has helped me being open-minded and adaptable. Belgians also have quite an ‘I’ll-work-it-out’ attitude which has helped me.
What message would you like to share with British people who don't know your work yet?
Well, I’m currently working for a Brazilian company that has an office in Los Angeles and one in London, which I’m currently setting up after having spent the last year in Rio, São Paulo and LA. It’s super multicultural and very effective. It’s called Mesa (www.mesa.do).
What your plan for the future?
I’m setting up this London office and I plan to organise working sessions all over Europe.
Where is home?
Which words or ideas do you associate with 'Foreigner'?
‘Bringer’, a bringer of inspiration, influence and interest. We are all foreigner to someone.