How do you combine a passion for photography with an international business degree? SBE alumnus Martijn Savenije explains.
Not every career path moves in a straight line. Martijn Savenije (MSc International Business) combined his love of marketing with his talent for photography. His story illustrates that following your passion and exploring various options can land you in a dream job.
Was photography always a passion? When did you become interested in it?
It’s weird how I got started in photography. I was very much into doing street art. And the work I created, I wanted to capture well. So I started taking photographs of the things I did. That led me to explore the boundaries of the camera I had, and I got interested in camera gear and started taking more and more photos. Basically, I taught myself photography. Also by looking at and analysing a lot of great art photography. And that really became a very important hobby.
It has never paid my bills. I’ve done assignments, there are books that have been published with my work in it, which I’m very proud of. I like the process of taking photos but it’s never been enough to be my job. My fascination is more on the artistic side of photography, which is not very commercial. When a client gets involved, one with opinions, it limits your own artistic vision and it takes away the fun a little bit.
Your career path took many turns before landing you in your current job as Visual Content Service Manager with Booking.com. Can you give us a snapshot?
I had been exploring several paths for education, ranging from anything from psychology to literature, and decided on international business. I really enjoyed it, but when things got very financial or quantitative, I started to question my choice.
My first job was in an R&D section of an IT company. I have always had a fascination for websites, anything online, because there is also a very large creative element in coding, which I’d always been doing for fun. I did a lot of IT implementations. All the while, I had this creative impulse that I could only partially fulfil in my work, which was why I focused on photography on the side. And later I was able to explore my interest more when I had the opportunity to work at FOAM, Amsterdam’s photography museum, as a marketing person.
You have now found the perfect fit, working with visual content for Booking.com, the world’s number one website for booking hotels and other accommodation. How did this come about?
I saw a vacancy for Photography Manager at Booking.com. If I look back, that strange path I had in my career, just lined me up for this role. I started in IT, then did marketing, and conversion-driven marketing, all the while being interested in photography, working at FOAM… all that combined, that skillset, was exactly what they were looking for. If I looked back on my resume at the time, it didn’t make sense—but suddenly, it came together in this role, working in a creative department with the number one company worldwide for booking online travel accommodation.
Now the official title is Visual Content Service Manager, which basically is that we provide photography, video, 360s, 3D scans, whatever, to the rest of the business. I mean, I love it. Everything just clicked and it worked. I work with a group of really passionate individuals, everyone has a passion for photography and visual content. It really feels like winning the lottery. I did not know that roles like this existed.
In what ways did your experience at SBE help prepare you for your current role?
This is the first job where I thought, oh, everything I learned in Maastricht now makes sense. Because it is a big international corporation. On a daily basis, I work with over 60 nationalities—and that’s just in my small area of the building. So the international business aspect and all the courses I took back then, I’m finally putting that knowledge in action. I feel really lucky.