We know the way in the EU
Sam Biebaut began his studies in the field of computer science. Here he concentrated on media, digital content creation and media. Gaining experience in the field of effective us of visual and audio in marketing campaigns, he went on to study audio-visual arts.
During his studies, he had the opportunity to complete part of his studies in Vietnam, where he worked on the visualisation of a join Belgium-Vietnamese product. It was the country that introduced him to the world of international politics. After two years of audio-visual arts, he decided to follow his passion and start his studies at the VUB (Vrije Universiteit Brussel). There he graduated Cum Laude his master studies in International Relations.
Through his academic career, he honed his skills as a designer, digital content creator, media analyst, researcher and political scientist. He also gained a lot from his experience in Romania and Vietnam. Moreover, having led a ‘Model United Nation’ team of 12 members for one year, (earning his team 7 Diplomacy Awards at Harvard WorldMUN in Vancouver Canada), he also got interested in the world of coaching, public-speaking and charisma.
After an internship at the Belgian embassy in Vietnam, Sam began working for the BNB Paribas. It allowed him to gain professional experience, but also question how day to day processes were done. As a graduate in computer science, with in-depth knowledge on database management, macro’s and other IT solutions, he felt that there were processes that could easily be improved.
With expertise in (social) media, marketing, IT, research, charisma, coaching and above all, European Politics, Sam decided to combine these skills, to help connect people and businesses to the European Union, its values and vision. More than that however, he would find practical and tangible solutions to actual and real problems.
Philippe Leysen holds a Master’s Degree in European Politics from the Centre of European Studies (KULeuven) - with a specialisation in EU law, trade and development aid – and is what you could call an entrepreneurial generalist.
At age 19, after accelerated studies in the humanities in the UK and Italy, Philippe set up his first company in South-East Asia. Operating in a context very different to the European one, he witnessed first-hand the dynamism of a region in full expansion. It is this vitality he brought back on his return to Europe all the while maintaining his bonds with the continent.
To this day, Philippe gives talks about the region and consults on customer-centred trips to South-East Asia. His particular interest in Vietnam spurred him to become a founding member of the Belgian-Vietnamese Alliance where he served for 3 years as the first Head of Cultural Affairs, organising numerous events and facilitating high level political contacts; skills which he continues to employ on a daily basis.
Philippe is also active in the expat market and in media. In 2011 he became director of Ackroyd Publications (The Bulletin / Expats.com) and since 2015 he is a Member of the Board of Mediahuis, one of the Beneluxes largest news publishers (NRC Handelsblad, De Standaard, het Nieuwsblad, Gazet van Antwerpen, Belang van Limburg, de Limburger,…). At the end of 2016 he accepted the Chairmanship of Mediacore Next (an important shareholder in Belgium’s leading media group Corelio), which focusses on next generation developments in the media sector.
With his broad area of expertise, his passion for all things EU and his entrepreneurial spirit, Philippe continuously strives to bridge the gap between companies and Europe, while never forgetting the importance of efficient and targeted communication.
While Dr. Wytze Russchen is not active in Access2Europe as employee, he has educated Sam Biebaut and Philippe Leysen thoroughly in the art of lobbying. And he always has advise ready on what to do or where to go
Biography of Dr. Wytze Th. Russchen
After graduating at the University of Groningen (Masters in International Relations), Wytze started working in the European Parliament. First as assistant to the ALDE Group and later as political adviser to Willy De Clercq, Member of the European Parliament, ALDE President and Belgian Minister of State. Wytze assisted Willy De Clercq, former deputy Prime Minister of Belgium and European Commissioner, first in his capacity as Chairman of the Trade Committee and, after that, the Legal Affairs & Market Committee.
Wytze became Press and Parliamentary Officer at BUSINESSEUROPE, the voice of European business. In 2001 he was appointed spokesman and chief lobbyist for the Dutch employers’ association VNO-NCW, both in The Hague and Brussels. As Senior Adviser European Affairs, Wytze Russchen returned full-time to Brussels in 2004, charged with the Dutch EU Presidency, followed by a secondment to FEDIL, the Luxembourg employers’ umbrella, during the Luxembourg Council Presidency in 2005.
In 2005 Wytze founded Russchen Consultants, a lobby 'boutique' providing advice and support to multinationals, NGOs and associations on government relations, PA/PR, communication and events. Wytze has served for seven years as the Conference Director of the European Business Summit, being responsibe for its content and programme, bringing together yearly 2.500 political and business leaders. For a decade Wytze has been consultant to BUSINESSEUROPE as Manager of the Advisory and Support Group, which grew from 18 corporate members in 2005 to 69 members in 2015. Wytze was also Director of three EC-funded pre-accession projects (BOSMIP II/ III/IV), bringing EU and CEEC business (and civil society) communities closer together.
Wytze sold Russchen Consultants in 2014 but relaunched his lobby activities by establishing Access2Europe in 2015. He was candidate for the European Parliament (1999 and 2004) and is the author of three books: 'Het Oliemannetje - Toplobbyist in Europa' (2014), '#Post uit Brussel' (2015) and ‘The Fixer’ (2016). Wytze founded Dutch Network Brussels and was the driving force behind a vast range of professional & societal networks, such as ‘Dutch-EU CEO Industry Table', ‘Politiek Café’ and ‘Crazy Orange’. He created InZentive in Barcelona and serves as deputy SG of Civico Europa. Wytze Russchen has been elected one of the ten most influential Dutch people in Brussels. In 2016 he was Knighted by H.M. King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands.
Biografie drs. Wytze Th. Russchen
Drs. Wytze Th. Russchen (Drachten, 1970) trekt al tijdens zijn studie Internationale Betrekkingen aan de Rijksuniversiteit Groningen naar Brussel. Hij gaat aan de slag in het Europees Parlement, eerst als medewerker bij de liberale eurofractie en daarna als politieke rechterhand van wijlen Willy De Clercq. Wytze ondersteunt de drievoudig vicepremier, oud-eurocommissaris, Europarlementariër, ALDE voorzitter en Minister van Staat ruim drie jaar, eerst als voorzitter van de commissie internationale handel en daarna van de commissie juridische zaken en interne markt in het Europees Parlement.
In 1999 wordt Wytze woordvoerder en parlementair attaché bij BUSINESSEUROPE, de Europese werkgevers. Twee jaar later treedt hij in dienst bij werkgeversvereniging VNONCW in Den Haag met wederom communicatie en lobby in zijn portefeuile. In 2004 keert hij terug naar Brussel om daar als Senior Secretaris Europese Zaken het Nederlandse EU Voorzitterschap te coördineren. In 2005 doet hij hetzelfde tijdens het Luxemburgse EU Voorzitterschap, dan gedetacheerd bij de Luxemburgse werkgevers. In 1999 en in 2004 voert Wytze actief campagne als kandidaat voor het Europees Parlement (VVD). In 2006 is Wytze kandidaat voor het Brusselse parlement (Open Vld).
In 2005 start Russchen zijn eigen lobbybureau. Russchen Consultants groeit uit tot een succesvolle PA&PR 'boetiek' die een breed scala aan klanten adviseert en ondersteunt. Wytze is gedurende zeven jaar Conference Director van de European Business Summit, het grootste netwerkevenement in Brussel. Verder is hij tien jaar Manager van de AS Group, een club multinationals die onder zijn hoede groeit van 18 leden in 2005 tot 69 leden in 2015. Wytze zit de Industrietafel voor, waar Nederlandse CEO’s en EU leiders elkaar ontmoeten. Daarnaast is hij directeur van drie EU projecten die sociale partners in kandidaat-lidstaten helpen voorbereiden op EU-lidmaatschap. In 2014 verkoopt hij zijn bedrijf maar keert in 2015 terug op de lobbymarkt met Access2Europe.
Wytze is oprichter en voorzitter van de Raad van Advies van het Dutch Network Brussels, oud-voorzitter van Nedcafé, oprichter van Politiek Café Brussel en Crazy Orange en oud-voorzitter van de VVD in Brussel en België. Wytze is auteur van 'het Oliemannetje - Toplobbyist in Europa' (2014), ‘#Post uit Brussel' (2015) en ‘The Fixer’ (2016). Hij is columnist bij ThePostOnline en EU KnowHow, voorzitter van Communication Partners Europe, plv. secretaris-generaal van Civico Europa, oprichter van InZentive Barcelona en onbezoldigd adviseur. Wytze Russchen wordt alom eschouwd als een van de meest invloedrijke Nederlanders in Brussel. In 2016 wordt hij door Z.M. Koning Willem-Alexander benoemd tot Ridder in de Orde van Oranje-Nassau.