A No-nonsense Family business

Millions of businesswoman: “Yes emm, tomorrow we eat pizza!”

The chairman of the Rotterdam Entrepreneur Award has anything but an empty agenda, on the contrary. Everything is tightly planned, however, with its own personal touch: “my children keep me grounded. They are my motivation and inspiration,” says Ellen van Dam of Cornelder Holding. Ellen runs one of the oldest (since 1814) Rotterdam logistic family businesses and successfully.

Ellen van Dam is the 5th generation in Cornelder Holding and was born in Rotterdam. She has a Norwegian mother and Dutch father. She is an intelligent woman with ambition and different from many average businesswomen. When we visit Ellen van Dam at her office, this soon becomes apparent.

“Honey, I’m busy. Yes of course we eat pizza tomorrow. Ok, I’m going to continue okay?”
Ellen van Dam is in a Teams meeting with one of the companies in Africa. Things need to be put in order so she is in a firm discussion. The many e-mails and sounds that can be heard pass her by, she is completely focused. Even her phone rings a few times, but then suddenly it’s her daughter calling. Ellen says ‘I’m sorry, just give me a moment. Yes Emm… what is it? {Ellen laughs}  Yes dear, of course we’ll eat pizza tomorrow”. Ellen hangs up and continues her flaming argument towards Africa.

This is typical of Ellen van Dam. An eye for the personal and strictly business where necessary. This combination ensures that she leads this large family business with verve and continues to build it for the generations to come. Everything in the field of logistics, the service for this, new developments and digitization has her full attention. At the same time, she arranges and organizes affairs for a theater association, she represents her three children and she recently took office as chairman of the Rotterdamse Ondernemersprijs.

“Humor keeps me going”
“Humour and putting things into perspective is important in life, says Ellen. My children and close friends take care of this. For example, when I am angry about a major setback, it is cathartic when my daughter points out the ‘real’ problems to me”: “Mom! I have nothing to wear, I don’t look good!”
Many businesswomen nowadays more or less outsource family life to nannies, Ellen says she deliberately does not do this. “My children keep me grounded, they inspire me and put things into perspective at the same time. Besides, come on! What is really important in life now!!”.

Ellen is a single mother and multitasking is made for her, you can tell by everything, “Being a mother and entrepreneurship is possible, I’m happy to prove that!”, says Ellen. Despite her full agenda, she recently took on the presidency of the Rotterdam Entrepreneur Award.