John van den Elzen is the General Manager of Tiandy Technologies Europe. He is responsible for managing the European activities of Tiandy related to sales, marketing and operations. His main tasks include building the infrastructure, creating and maintaining the eco partner environment and developing local sales & marketing activities in the region.

Prior to joining Tiandy Technologies, he was General Manager, Worldwide Surveillance Business Unit of Promise Technology, and the Managing Director of Promise Technology EMEA. In these positions he was responsible for managing the global activities of Promise in video surveillance, and strengthening operations in this market. In addition, as the Managing Director of Promise Technology EMEA he led the company’s activities throughout Europe the Middle East, Africa and Russia.

How did you come to work in the security industry?

Actually, it was pure coincidence as I was working for Promise Technology and mainly active in the IT market with storage solutions. We had some “accidental” sales in the security market, mainly related to casinos in Africa and prisons in Europe. In 2007, General Electric Security approached Promise Technology and some other storage vendors as well for the development of a storage system. We managed to stay in the race until the end but at the very last moment we lost the entire deal to a competitor. The loss of this deal was for me the signal to change our strategy and not only focus on the IT industry anymore but also jump into the Security industry. That year was the first year we joined the IFSEC show in Birmingham.

What is the best professional advice you have received?

I have always been in a lucky position to get professional advice and support from many people in the industry, but the best advice was always to work hard but also smart towards the goals you want to achieve in life. Of course, I am travelling all around the world and meet with a lot of different cultures. From an owner of a Russian distribution company I received some of the funniest advice I’ve ever heard: “John, here in Russia we don’t do business with the brain but with the liver.” It will not come as a surprise that the company was not able to generate good business, because also in Russia people do business with their brains.

Quick Facts
Film or TV?

Film as I never watch television as I am working most of the time. I see a lot of movies when I am flying from one location to the other

Favorite album

Don't Come Easy
, Tyketto

Ideal holiday

Just relaxing at the swimming pool and enjoying time with my family in a sunny country during the summer holidays

Favorite film

Highlander - it's the mix of the movie and the music from Queen

Morning or evening?

I am definitely an evening person. I never like to go to bed and as a result I have difficulties waking up in the morning. In general 5 or 6 hours sleep is enough for me during week days.

What's something few people know about you?

I have been on some quite remarkable business trips. I can remember one trip with a Russian business partner 8-9 years ago and my partner there was an owner of an old Russian vessel. The purpose of the trip was to investigate if it made sense for Promise Technology to purchase shares from the company, and become part-owner to speed up the business in Russia. We were cruising around on Lagoda Lake, a large lake between Russia and Finland. We visited a monastery church and a bunker from WWII built in the middle of nowhere on small islands. This was my first experience with white nights as it never got completely dark. At 3 o’clock in the morning the owner decided to stop the engines of the vessel and start a BBQ on a small island, starting the business discussion. It was an unique experience but later on I was reading that there was high radioactivity measured in the bunker… Oops. So, I might be radioactive but I’m still alive.

What's the most rewarding thing about what you do for a living?

Although you need to sacrifice a lot of your family life during all the business travels and work from early morning to late evening, I still find it a privilege to work with so many different cultures and visit places most people will probably never visit. You learn to view and approach situations from different perspectives.

We were cruising around on Lagoda Lake, a large lake between Russia and Finland
A white night on Lagoda Lake, Russia

What are your interests, hobbies and passions outside security?

When I was young I was playing volleyball. Nowadays I am coaching my son’s team with a lot of enthusiasm. In my spare time I also like to swim and keep fit, as it gives me new energy and keeps me in good shape. I am in the fortunate position that I have a swimming pool in my backyard, so I am not bound by opening hours of public swimming pools. I also enjoy sitting on a terrace with friends and talk about everything except business while enjoying a drink.

Where was your last vacation?

For years we have visited Lazise, a small village at lake Garda in Italy. It is a very beautiful environment but it was not my choice. My wife is used to going on vacation to Lazise in her childhood with her entire family, so I more or less inherited it from the moment I started dating her. In the beginning I was still resisting as I like to go to different places. I was able to convince her once to go to France but that was my one and only victory in 15 years. Sometimes my family is invited or able to join me during my trips and these are the most memorable trips for me.

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