|Degree:||Masters International Business Studies|
|University: ||Maastricht University, The Netherlands|
|Year joined AkzoNobel:||2003|
|Current Job Title:||Global Product Manager, Lesonal|
|Business Unit:||Car Refinishes|
|Work Location:||Sassenheim, The Netherlands|
What first interested you in a career with AkzoNobel?
When I was at university, I was on the board of the Maastricht Marketing Association, an association for students interested in marketing. We organised all sorts of activities like company visits and conferences. It struck me that every time I met people from AkzoNobel, I could really relate to them. These entrepreneurial people were focused on getting a job done for their customers rather than “much talk and little output”. I enjoyed their stories about doing business across the globe and the complexities it involves and immediately I decided to apply for a career with this company.
How would you sum up AkzoNobel both as a company and as an employer?
The first thing that comes to mind is the amount of freedom to do your job. It is up to me to decide how I tackle things – as long as I get the job done. Next to that, I have a big say in which topics I focus on. This freedom is also visible in career development. I am happy to be in the driver’s seat when it comes to career planning; there is no obligatory trajectory one has to go through in order to build your future. Each person is unique and therefore develops as such. I love having the opportunity in my job to work with R&D specialists, Logistics, Production and Sales Departments. All these people from all over the world offer different views that help me do a better job building the business. All in all, I really enjoy being able to make a contribution to this company.
What skills have you learnt and applied to your job?
AkzoNobel offers all sorts of training and personal development plans are tailor made. This can be related to what you need in your current or future job or can be about your position within AkzoNobel in general. I have taken all sorts of courses and training, but I will never forget my first one – an intensive course to learn German. I had only been with the company for a few weeks but was sent on a language course that was being run in an old monastery where I had to speak German all day long! After a week, I was exhausted and even dreamed in German – but I mastered the language! When I visit the German market in my current job, I am really pleased I took this course.
In my view, learning on the job and training courses, as well as learning from informal networking such as the new employees’ network and women’s network are crucial and have really helped me in the positions I’ve held within AkzoNobel. It is fun getting to know more about the company, and is exciting to see how other people’s experiences can be translated to your personal situation.
Tell me about your career to date with AkzoNobel?
My first job as a Commercial Trainee was the perfect match to my studies. It encompassed a combination of marketing, sales and logistics. I learned a great deal about international commerce. After this placement, I decided I wanted to learn more about the people aspect of doing business. Therefore, I decided to transition into a role in HR. I worked on recruitment, selection and I studied labour market trends and communication developments.
This really opened my eyes to new technologies and forms of communication. It also made me realise that as employees we are in essence customers as well and I certainly understood the importance of customers and customer contacts. So, now my current role is Global Product Manager for one of our brands, Lesonal, in Europe, Middle East and Africa. Every day, I work together with all sorts of people with all sorts of backgrounds in order to determine the optimal product portfolio and campaigns to better position the Lesonal brand in the market place.
I travel quite substantially and love to see how each country has its own culture and ways of using our products. It is complex but it is exciting balancing these different cultural backgrounds when drawing up my plans. I feel that AkzoNobel has given me the opportunity to explore my interests and develop myself in a way I see fit. Each different role has given me different insights that help me in my career.
Can AkzoNobel help you achieve your goals?
I have only been in my current position for 6 months so I see enough challenges and excitement to grow in my current job. I definitely see myself in a commercial role for the next few years to come and would like to live abroad as well for some time. My experience at AkzoNobel to date definitely leads me to believe that these wishes will become reality!
Do you have a work/life balance?
In my spare time, I enjoy running – I love exploring new areas and running is a great way to enjoy nature and the spectacular views. Alongside that, running helps me to clear my head and get all sorts of inspiration on a personal and business level. I always get great ideas when I’m running! My other passion is travelling, especially across the African continent. The great part about my job is that I often get to travel, and I get to enjoy new cultures and landscapes so different from what I’m used to at home. I wouldn’t change this for anything. All in all, I feel balancing work and private life isn’t that complicated and sometimes even think they go hand in hand.