“When I'm at the Albert Heijn supermarket, I always have a look at our products on display”

From 'novice' to Director Supply Chain

As a young child, I often walked past the place where I now work. I always referred to it as ‘the sweets factory’. I could not have imagined that I would eventually work here, but it had a special meaning to me even back then. It stimulated your imagination.

I got the job!

After a very pleasant job interview, I was sure, this is where I wanted to work. A switch from Supply Chain to Finance at my previous employer had not worked out well for me and I was ready for a new challenge. As I left the building, I could imagine myself working in ‘the sweet factory’. And so I was very disappointed that I was initially turned down for the job due to a lack of experience. But two weeks later I received a phone call. To see if I was interested in coming in for another chat. I got the job!

Flowers and cake

I arrived at the office at 09:00 to find a bouquet of flowers and a cake on my desk. A good start! Various introductory meetings had already been scheduled and I was in daily contact with my supervisor during the first weeks to work out the progress and the details of my position.

The grand finale

Despite the fact that I was still a beginner, I'd already demonstrated that I was very capable by the end of my first year. During the talks with my supervisor, I explained which opportunities I saw and how I would organise certain things differently. That evidently appealed to him as I was given the opportunity to work out my ideas. The cherry on the cake was when I was given the responsibility and the opportunity to prove myself by setting up a new branch within the Supply chain department; Demand management.

Trend-setting leadership

In support of the rapid development that I experienced, I participated in the ‘trend-setting leadership’ training course. This is a standard course within Perfetti Van Melle that every executive has to complete. As a follow-up, I met with an external coach every month to discuss how I intended to substantiate my position. What is my strength? What are the pitfalls? An effective process that really helped me in my development as an executive. I'm still reaping the benefits of those efforts.

Less focussed? Fitness and cycling!

My focus tends to lag now and then after a long day of work. That's when I benefit from the scheme that we have with the fitness centre around the corner from our office It's fantastic! If necessary, I work in the evenings at home as well. If the weather allows, I sometimes cycle to work and on Wednesdays in the summer, a group of colleagues and I cycle around the block.

From executive to tactical

The developments within Demand Management and Supply Chain are never at a standstill. Contacts with a new factory, the introduction of a product or the up-scaling of volumes for 'Hamster weeks'. Everything has to be perfectly organised. Over the course of time, my work has gradually shifted from the executive to the tactical level. My new challenges lie in improving the processes on a day-to-day basis.

New structure

2015 saw Group changes implemented within the Supply Chain, which led to my superior at that time becoming responsible for Supply Chain in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. In turn, this meant that his position as Director Supply Chain became available. Of course I was delighted with such an opportunity. In this position, I was then able to implement the new structure which I had developed together with my former superior. Instead of steering the Supply Chain per discipline, we began working in focus teams. We're still reaping the benefits of that every day!