This is Bernice
THIS IS BERNICE
Nice to see you here!
I’m Bernice Feller-Thijm (she/her). I’m a Culture & Inclusion Strategist and Team Performance Coach based in Amsterdam.
With 20 years of experience guiding and managing teams within start-ups, corporates, and NGOs, I specialize in unlocking people’s potential in alignment with organizational goals, while prioritizing inclusion and using differences, resistance, and complexity not as obstacles, but rather as fuel for change.
JustB is, of course, a reference to my name. But more importantly, it represents my mission: To create spaces where you as a person can just be (be who you are and for that, be respected and valued). In my work, I aim to fortify living and working spaces based on these values.
As a culture & inclusion specialist my goal is to make space for individual and collective excellence. For this to be possible, it is important to recognize the value of our differences. I like to compare it to a crayon box filled with different colors – each color adds something special to the work of art that is being created.
EMBRACING MY LABELS
Valuing differences, for me, starts with understanding the differences within yourself – what I like to call “labels.” These labels give color to your perspective. Some of the labels that give color to my own perspectives are that I was born in Suriname but grew up in the Netherlands from the age of four. Knowing I was different, I became very good at assimilating and “fitting in.” After realizing I wasn’t being my best (and true) self, I started researching my own family history. I now know that my roots lie partly with the Yoruba and Hausa tribes in Nigeria and partly with plantation owners from Amsterdam. In my work, I want to pay tribute to that whole spectrum that is part of me – that is why creating connections between supposed polarities is important to me. Today, as a result of my labels, I naturally look at matters from different perspectives and can easily move between different environments while not losing sight of being me.
I like to invite others to explore what gives color to their perspectives and experiences. That is part of the reason why I work in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
The other reason why I do what I do is based on doing organizational constellation work and studying Complexity Theory and how it’s used for strategic management and organizational development. By working with and coaching teams (some dealing with complex challenges, like sustainability and public-private partnerships), it became clear to me that authentic connections between team members are essential for any type of success.
When my career started more than 20 years ago and I worked in all things digital – mostly in the start-up industry – the theme of connection at that point had a very literal meaning. I fell in love with the possibility of connecting to the whole world through the medium of the internet. It later became a common thread throughout my career. I found myself excelling at connecting different types of people – in some cases, people who did not understand or even like each other. Ultimately, being able to connect is the skill I want to ignite in others.
FROM ONLINE TO
And so, five years ago I took my love for human-driven connection offline. Having worked with teams across various industries, I now know that for teams to perform at their best, it starts with creating a culture of belonging where people feel safe to be autonomous while maintaining that feeling of connection. That is when diverse talents come to light and magic happens!
I get inspiration from everything I encounter in daily life – from books and documentaries to the people around me.
Here are two of my favorite quotes:
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”
– Maya Angelou
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”
– Lao Tzu