I moved from Boston to Amsterdam and started my own operations consultancy. I'm Whitney Smith, Elpha Community ManagerFeatured

What’s your name and your current role? If you’re a student, what are you studying?I’m Whitney! Founder of operations scaler for tech start-ups, Otimise. Where’s the place of your origin?I was born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island, and relocated to Boston to live and work for several years. Now, I call Amsterdam home!How many years have you been in tech? 7 years total What’s something that you’ve done that you’re proud of?Moving abroad and starting my own consultancy company. What’s your “aha” moment in deciding what do you want to do professionally? When I finally ventured off professionally on my own after being at a crossroads with my career. What’s your definition of success in life or in your career?Being happy.What’s something that you’re working on to improve about yourself? Actually being able to relax and enjoy the moment. It’s hard for me to slow down and just enjoy nothingness (even when I’m on holiday). I’m slowly starting to remind myself that it’s okay to put the work away and take some time to myself for balance. Tell us about someone who has inspired you a great deal. Who was it and how did they inspire you?My younger sister, Hannah. She’s insanely intelligent, kind, honest and loving; overall just one of the best humans I know. She struggled a lot through high school and university due to being dyslexic and had to forge her own path at times to get to where she is now. Last month, she graduated with her CAGS in School Psychology (after receiving her Bachelors and Masters). She’s taught me to never give up even when people tell you otherwise. How do you celebrate your wins?Ten years ago I would have a very different answer but I’m so content celebrating wins by relaxing in my garden at home or relaxing by the water with some wine and cheese. What do you do when you aren't working or studying?You can find me venturing around outside with my dog, Bob and my husband, Victor. What is one piece of advice that you’d share with the Elpha community?I have two! Believe in yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help! This incredible community has reminded me of both. --Whitney is a driven and passionate problem solver with a background in operations and risk management. She is passionate about partnering with rapidly growing tech startups around the world and helping them implement scalable operational frameworks. From working with companies in AI and synthetic data to tech education platforms, her diverse clients can be found from Singapore to San Francisco. Prior to moving to Amsterdam, Whitney lived Boston working for a large general contractor in Risk Management, working on projects with MIT, Harvard, Northeastern University and more. When she’s not working you can find her venturing in the dunes or forest with her husband Vic and their Bulgarian rescue dog, Bob.
Have you learned Dutch?!?!
Ja! Een beetje! (Yes, a bit). I can understand fluent Dutch, the speaking part is what I'm trying to work on now!
I went to college in Providence and I’m moving to Amsterdam for grad school next year! How do you like it?
I LOVE Providence! Such a cute little city! My sister is getting married there next July so I'm looking forward to going back! Where will you be doing grad school? Please don't hesitate to reach out for moving, housing, transition tips! Would love to meet up when you get settled!Amsterdam and the Netherlands in general is such an incredible place to live. It's not perfect but sometimes I pinch myself because I feel so lucky to call this place my home. I'm outside so much more than I was in the US which I love. I also feel like the opportunities here are endless.
I miss Providence so much!! I still haven't even been to Amsterdam, but I've heard great things about it. Hopefully I can visit before I start my program next fall! I'll be doing a masters in New Media & Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam. I'll definitely hit you up for recommendations when I get there, would love to grab a coffee or something, too :)
Hello Whitney,You sound like a person who shares my same values. I grew up in Boston and now live in San Francisco Bay Area working as a contract CFO. I have a history of working with women and really loving it. When I moved to the Bay Area I sought female ceo’s but they often are too risk averse and don’t have high enough revenues to higher a CFO. I am working with male CEO’s and would love to find female CEO’s who are either vc funded or have 2M in revenue or higher. I see this often burns people if they are not strategic with their accounting and finances. I love Amsterdam and wonder what made you choose that location. We can have a phone conversation if you prefer. I’m not sure if my phone number is available on this site. Let me know.
Was there a specific calling to Amsterdam? A window of opportunity? I still have on my bucket list a dream of moving to The Hague. (There is a reason 😉)
What’s the reason??? 🤠
There was a few! I have family in Europe and I had visited Amsterdam a few times and just fell in love with this city. I also was at a crossroads with my job in Boston and had applied to grad school in Europe - Amsterdam being one of the cities. At the same time, I had met a Dutch guy in Boston who I would later end up marrying. I'm not sure if I believe in fate be that's pretty close to it!If you are ever in The Hague let me know!
Whitney you’re amazing! I love that you made a huge scary leap and moved to a friggin foreign country!!!! PS How’s the coffee over there?
Awww, thank you! Still can't believe I actually made the leap sometimes!The coffee is AMAZING! Also, people drink it like water! When I had Dutch colleagues they would literally rink 7-10 cups a day! I could handle 2 at most because I was used to pretty weak stuff apparently haha
Did you include a link to your site and I’m just missing it? Love to learn more about what Otimise does!
Hi Sonya!I'm currently having someone build my site as we speak! I would love to connect with you to explain in detail what it is I do! I'll send over a DM so we can connect!
Thanks so much for sharing, Whitney! Any advice on how to transition gracefully to life in a new country?
Have a support system in place! If it's not in the new country you are moving to, it's family/ friends from where you are previously coming from. I'm not going to lie, at times I broke down because things just work differently than I was used to in Boston. Especially when you are dealing with visa's, health insurance, housing, all at once. I was pretty prepared and organized and had a partner to help out but it was still overwhelming at times. I got through it with support from friends, family and my partner. It always nice to have people remind you that in the grand scheme of things most of the stuff you worry about is minor.
This is such helpful feedback! I am actually moving to Amsterdam in January to be with my partner (Dutch!), and while I know it'll be a huge help having him there to help with the logistics of getting settled, I know that I'm bound to come up against some frustration and feelings of isolation. Appreciate you sharing these thoughts :)
Very cool! Can I ask how business is going? As someone with a background in Product and Operations I never thought to start my own consultancy. What do you think has been your biggest challenge?
Thank you! Business is going great! To be honest, it's better than I had imagined it going. When if first started out, I prepare myself for clients to increase gradually- essentially I didn't want to get my hopes up. Things happened quick (thanks to a strong network) and within 3 months I had 4 long-term clients/ projects. I'm at the point right now where I'm contemplating joining forces with someone else so that I won't have to turn projects down. So far, I would say my biggest challenge is reminding myself to make the most out of my day. I'm MUCH more scheduled now than I ever have been but it keeps me focused, ultimately squeezing the most out of my day without draining myself. I've also had to learn balance and have recently forced myself to commit to the gym 5 times a week for 30-40 mins every afternoon. It's the best thing I've implemented and wish I would have done it sooner!
Hi, I want to understand the detailed process how you search for these clients please!I live in Belgium, working in IT and I am trying to expand my activities by having more clients on my bucketlist but I am stuck somewhere!Thank you