Interview with Suzanne Pots, Director Elite Model Management Amsterdam

Many graduated students have a lot of opportunities after they have finished their studies. But what is it like to work abroad, start up your own business, make it grow into a great success and then sell this company and the bidders are excited to take it over? To answer these questions, we spoke with Suzanne Pots, Director Elite Model Management Amsterdam.

Can you tell us something about yourself and your career?

I am Suzanne Pots, I am 35 years old and I was born in Groningen. I was in my second year of higher professional education and was 18 years old when I was asked to do modelling work. This seemed like a very nice challenge, to which I said ‘yes’. Then, things moved very fast and within two weeks, I was on the train to Paris. After a while, things went so great that I was in the Italian VOGUE and that I got to do beautiful campaigns for e.g. La Perla and Dior. I have travelled around the globe for 8 years and I lived in New York for 4 years, 2 years in Paris and 2 years in Milan. After these 8 years, it started to itch to return to the Netherlands. I already had the idea to set up a modelling agency for a while. Therefore, I set up this modelling agency together with my husband Mauro.

How did you end up at Elite Model Management Amsterdam?

As a ‘world improver’, I wanted to start a modelling agency that was different/better than the others, as I had missed some help/development with my agency when I was 18 years old. Because of this, I started the modelling agency up together with my husband in order to guide the girls well. This became Fresh Model Management. As there was a lot of competition within the Netherlands in terms of modelling agencies, Fresh Model Management had to take a different approach compared to other agencies. This resulted in intensive support, model Camps, a different/renewed website compared to the other agencies, etcetera.

Everything revolved around the company, the office was downstairs, on the second floor was the photo studio and our house, the room where we lived, was on the top floor. We were open seven days a week, we were an independent entrepreneurial management, and within the house, we did everything ourselves. In seven years we expanded to a model management that was well known worldwide. Fresh Model management became such a success that Elite World was very interested in taking us over. This has happened and Fresh Model Management has been taken over by Elite World, becoming Elite Model Management Amsterdam.

What attracts you in this unique sector?

The variety attracts me a lot, but also the contact with new people and new/young talent. It is nice to see that initially a young, insecure girl walks in, then becomes a teenager, and years later a young adult, self-confident woman, model and sometimes even a top model. This development process is very nice to see. In addition, I find the creativity that I can put into my work, the fun things I can organize, including the model camp and judging elite model, nice as well. Every day is different, so every day stays interesting.

“Elite is the world’s leading model management and talent discovery network, with a presence that spans across the globe.”

Everyone knows the term Director and most people know what this stands for, but what are the specific tasks for you as Director of Elite Model Management Amsterdam?

Together with my husband Mauro, I am responsible for everything. Because of this, I also interfere with everything, oversee everything and have the ultimate decision. Do we do something or not? Eventually, my husband and I make all the decisions; make all the financial payments, selection procedures, and etcetera. The accountant does her job and I check the end product. The same applies to the other managers. So actually, I also have a controlling task.

To what extent are you currently still involved in the accounting/finance section of Elite Model Management Amsterdam?

I know what’s going on, I check it and I make the payments. Every year we have to generate sufficient turnover in order to finance our business operations, but the accountant of Elite Amsterdam keeps the financial statements up to date and we have to report that to the CFO of Elite World. The financial goal is of course an increase in turnover every year, so that there is an upward trend.

How do you deal with Work-Life balance?

Being an entrepreneur means that I have a tight schedule and I have to put in a lot of effort to get all the work done. There has been a little more balance since the agency became Elite Model Management Amsterdam as compared to before at Fresh Model Management. However, within this field you simply have to be available at all times, always check your mail and phones. It can be the case that at 11 pm a message comes in saying that a model’s flight from Amsterdam has been cancelled, thus she cannot depart even though she has a job the next day in New York. This has to be resolved immediately because otherwise she misses out on her job. Work is always there, but I try to figure out as much as possible what has priority and what can be done the next day.

What would you have, with the insights you now posses, differently addressed within your career?

I have never regretted anything, but what I might have done differently is that I would have been stricter. An important learning aspect for me is that I have to pull the rank every once in a while. I want to please others and accommodate them.

What would you give to today’s Accountancy/Finance students as advice?

Motivation and discipline is of high importance. But also be enthusiastic and cheerful. It is important that you have passion for what you are doing. Then you can do something right. Even if you cannot do something (well), learn how to do it (well) and then do it as good as possible so that you can achieve much.