In the spotlight


The secret of success

"Being yourself is your greatest strength."

Smeenk's Personal Assistants

In 2020, Adriana Esmeijer officially said goodbye as director of the Cultuurfonds, the largest private culture fund in the Netherlands. Under her inspiring leadership, the fund experienced significant growth and was able to connect more and more culture devotees and creators.

With extraordinary respect and admiration for this ‘leading lady’, ‘matchmaker’, inspirer of stature and highly valued relation, it is our pleasure to spotlight her below, as she deserves!

In the busy weeks leading up to her farewell, Adriana fortunately managed to find time for this interview. In this interview she shares her secret of success. 

Please find her most important lessons below. 

And of course, would you also like to be able to be entirely yourself? 

“Looking back on my past 20 years as director of the Cultuurfonds, I learned that being yourself is your greatest strength,” says Adriana Esmeijer. “Staying yourself and being authentic brings you more than just wanting to play a role.”



We are eager to hear the secret of her success. After all, at the age of 35, she entered the Cultuurfonds as ‘a rookie’ – as she likes to put it. She is now widely appreciated as a natural connector who is able to quickly gain the trust of others, thanks to her humor and analytical and empathetic skills. In 20 years time, she and her team have been able to realize an extensive growth in donations and thus in the support of activities. The fund spends approx. € 40 million annually on culture, nature and science. In addition to the head office in Amsterdam, there are twelve provincial departments. 

Please find her most important lessons below.

The secret of success


“You are lucky with the talents you receive in life, such as being able to study well. But with this luck comes the responsibility to further develop these natural talents, and that is only possible by putting in significant effort. Just like a successful top athlete or musician, I have worked many hours in this role and with full dedication. My driving force has reached a level where I must sometimes tell myself to take a few steps back.”

The secret of success


“There is no secret formula to success. It is a matter of consistently delivering what you promise. However, it takes significant patience to gain trust. It requires more than promises and actions, it’s the details that matter. Always make sure your actions match your promises. This level of care and courtesy are now woven into the core of our organization.”

The secret of success


“Everyone who works here understands that we cannot live on air. On the one hand, we have benefactors who give us their money and trust and on the other hand we have institutions that rely on us. Both customer groups deserve our full and sincere attention.”

The secret of success


“We make dreams come true. Our work is always the beginning of something beautiful, everyone who works with us feels the same. I’ve seen it as an honor and life fulfillment for the past 20 years to contribute to this. You can definitely make a difference in this work. Empowering others, making dreams come true, growing talents, planting seeds.”

The secret of success


“Looking back over the past 20 years, I have learned that being true to yourself is your greatest strength. Staying true to yourself and being authentic brings you more than just wanting to play a role. Dare to show yourself. Also be honest if you are not very good at something and surround yourself with people who complement that. Your own, honest style is not featured in any management book, but it is the best.”

The secret of success


Smeenk's Top Personal Assistants en het Cultuurfonds

“The beginning of something beautiful.”

Are you also sympathetic towards culture, nature and science? And are you impressed by the Cultuurfonds? Please leave a donation here. Any amount is welcome. Especially now!


“Bringing people, dreams and worlds together, brings culture to life. 

The Cultuurfonds. The beginning of something beautiful.”

Interview: Silvia Kooij | Photograph: Sanja Marušiċ.

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