What brought you to AkzoNobel?
On the advice of a tennis partner who worked for the company, I sent an open application, denied the first offer, and ended up working for the Board of Management (back then the HQ was in Arnhem)
What memories do you have of your first day at work?
Not many – although I was rather impressed to start as the Management Assistant to the Deputy Secretary to the Secretary to the Board of Management. The environment was quite impressive.
What message would you give yourself if you could go back to that first day?
Perhaps not the first day, but I would say it’s good that I took my second manager’s advice to start a study. I have always studied next to working.
How would you describe the company at that time?
Big (85,000 employees), diverse (seven divisions, ranging from pharmaceuticals, to fibers, to consumer products, to chemicals and, oh yes, also paint). Corporate advertising campaigns ran in 17 or 18 languages.
How has the company changed over the years, since then?
No surprise to see the company is a lot smaller and more focused. I’ve seen it change from a fleet of very diverse ships, to a well-equipped ship with a clear course and a broader range of cultures to help navigate it.
You’ve had various roles, how much have you enjoyed that variety in your work?
People I met from other companies during the studies, trainings and courses I took never failed to ask why I stayed at AkzoNobel. The answer is in the variety – in roles, in teams and where I was based. And, of course, the constant changes and transitions ensured that the job was never the same, even in the same role.
Do any particular characters stand out from all the people you’ve worked with?
One of my first managers, who encouraged me to study communications. And certainly the team I worked with in Industrial Chemicals – great team, all great characters.