Behind every successful firm, there is a vision and behind that vision is a hard working team. The team with the right amount of motivation and hard work can make progress and have success, but during the long haul up the mountain to success, few can hold on to the passion that started their journey. But when a leader can help combine the passion with persistence, the firm can sustain people and ideas. Scott Holbrook is one of these leaders, who sees the hike to the top of a mountain just as enjoyable as the feeling when he reaches the top.
Scott Holbrook, founder of Natural Resource Innovations GmbH (NRI), has lived in Germany for over 20 years. Scott received his Bachelor of Science degree in Forest Management at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon.
Holbrook came to Germany, following a stint as a Research Associate at OSU with the intent of studying forestry and secured an internship with the regional forestry office in Heidelberg. This position was the open door for a long road ahead. He later worked for U.S. Army IMCOM Europe as an Environmental Research Associate on loan from Colorado State University. Drawing on his interest in geospatial technology and environmental management, he founded the European branch of NRI in 2001.
Aside from managing NRI, Holbrook still provides services in the field to the IMCOM Europe Garrisons. He is responsible for the management, maintenance and compliance of geospatial data for utilities, real property, space management and site maps. And he works in the field at the military training areas, performing endangered species surveys, Natura 2000 monitoring and vegetation surveys.
One on One with Holbrook
Where did your interest in forestry come from? Why did you want to study forestry and become a forester? I grew up in the woods in Oregon and worked on my father’s tree nurseries since the age of 8. Trees and forests were always a big part of my life and were involved in almost every job I ever had.
Your love of nature can also be found in your hobbies such as hiking and climbing. What do you like the most about it? I live for being outdoors; so running, hiking and climbing in the mountains is the best way for me to feel alive. Being close to nature is like recharging a battery, only the battery, in this case, is the soul.
What was your experience like at Oregon State University? I saw you played rugby and were in a college fraternity. Rugby was the one of the most enjoyable team experiences of my life…the fraternity not so much!
What made you leave the states and come to Germany? Was that your first visit/time in Germany? And why Heidelberg? I first came to Heidelberg in 1992 on Christmas break, my senior year in college, to visit friends, and I guess something just clicked. I had never been anywhere like that in my life, and coming from the west coast, the architecture and history of European cities just blew me away. Heidelberg pretty much has it all. Culturally diverse, a beautiful, historical city surrounded by forests and mountains….those are just some of the reasons we moved the office here.
What is the best part about living in Germany or to be more general in Europe? Do you miss some things/parts of living from/in America? The best part for me is speaking and interacting in a language that is not my mother tongue. It has changed my outlook on life more than any other experience. The food and architecture are a close second. I do miss the wide-open spaces in the western U.S…and good Tex-Mex.
What motivated you to learn German and integrate so well into the German culture? Many Americans live here for decades and never learn the language. Why did you find it important to take on this challenge? To truly learn about a culture you first need to learn the language. Anyone who has experienced that knows it to be true. The second reason is that I really wanted to get a Master’s degree in Germany, but at the time they didn’t accept a bachelor’s or offer a degree with English as the main language as they do today, so I had to start from scratch.
What do you want to communicate with your company, Natural Resource Innovations GmbH? Is there a central message that you want people to hear when they connect with your company? Our company does not just exist to earn money. It sounds like a cliché, but to me the best occupation in the world is doing something that also improves the planet we live on. The strongest message I ever took away from being an outdoorsman was when you leave a campsite, always leave it better than it was when you arrived. That’s how I feel about the planet earth. As a species, we are doing a terrible job of taking care of the one campsite we have been given to live in the universe. I feel the ultimate mission of NRI is to help companies/agencies/communities be more efficient in order to improve on that concept.
What have you learned over the years of developing a company? Are there some things that you have learned along the way/things that you can pass on to others that you wish you would have know earlier? Your employees are your greatest asset. Good people are not only hard to find, but they are harder to hold on to if you don’t put them first.
Can you tell me what your key to success is? What do you find are the most important qualities/aspects in a person or organization that lead to success? What is success for you? Success is only a perception, but for me it’s going home every day and feeling like we positively impact our customer’s operations, because that’s utlimately why we exist…