In our interview series 'In good company with Awin' we want to give a face to colleagues who work for our advertisers, publishers and our network every day. After all, without these ambitious, hard-working colleagues, Awin would not exist. Plus, every single one of them is great fun, of course!
But before we continue with the blog series, this last month of the summer recess we will squeeze in a 'special edition' trilogy. An exclusive mini series dedicated to our Management Trio, with just a couple of more questions.
We have already reached the last interview of this summer special. And the honor for the final speaker in this MT trilogy goes to HR Director Christa van Veldhuizen.
Hi Christa, could you introduce yourself to the readers? Who are you and what makes your role within Awin special?
My name is Christa van Veldhuizen and I can proudly say that in the meantime I am part of the furniture here at Awin. Awin (then still zanox) was founded in the Netherlands in 2006 and that year I also joined the club. At that time the team only consisted of 10 people and actually it came down to the fact that everything that was not commercial was my responsibility. From marketing & events to setting up the complete HR blueprint. After the acquisition of M4N in 2011 by zanox, I became part of the MT and my focus shifted to HR & Organisation.
Today, within the HR field, I am mainly occupied with the Awin University, the personal development & knowledge development of each employee, the company culture, group dynamics within the organisation and team management. So, as you can understand, I think it's very important to get the right people in the right places. But even more important: all these people together must form a great team!
What do you see as your biggest 'Awin success'?
At Awin we have an employee satisfaction survey twice a year. To the question 'Would you recommend Awin as a great place to work?', around 90% of our employees answer positively. The working atmosphere we create at Awin through open communication, hard work and a good dose of 'fun' ensures that people feel good working here at Awin. And that's something to be proud of!
And what has been your biggest challenge in your career at Awin? How did you overcome it?
Awin Benelux has about 85 employees. All driven employees who want to grow fast, but all at their own level. To then randomly follow any training is not very effective. By doing good research and using my experience, I set up the Awin University, in which truly tailor-made learning paths for different functions and levels within Awin are set up. In this way we train everyone within the organisation, not only in knowledge, but especially in skills and personal effectiveness. Because this is an essential contribution to being able to deliver the best service to our customers.
What exactly do you think is the strength of Awin Benelux and of the people who work there?
At Awin we have a strict door policy. Not everyone can just come and work at Awin. Of course we look at the résumé, but we find the personality of a candidate actually more important. Three characteristics are essential, namely that the candidate is enthusiastic, driven and enterpreneurial. What exactly do I mean by that? With enthusiastic people I mean positive people. Individuals who basically never see bumps in the road ahead, or in fact, you can leave out 'basically'. The type of employee who finds everything a kick-ass challenge and therefore pulls a lot of tasks, projects etc cetera to them. But, also someone who gets enthusiastic about the work of his or her colleagues and likes to provide a supporting role. That too is enthusiasm.
In addition, our employees are driven. After all, we are the number 1 affiliate network and we want to remain that way. But we won't stay that way if we just lean back. We want and will always have to innovate and improve in order to always be the best at what we do. And I have to say, this goes hand in hand with the entrepreneurial spirit of my colleagues here, because they really like to try out new things. And we give you all the room, partly by taking away any fear of failure. For example, is a project or initiative you started unsuccessful? Then you pull the plug and start working on your new idea or opportunity.
Is that also one of the, perhaps crucial, characteristics that causes you to enter the office every day with joy and energy?
Yes of course! Naturally it is very inspiring to be surrounded all day by people who get the best out of themselves and their work. But I should'nt leave out the fact that we're also loyal followers of the credo 'work hard, play hard'. Just picture this formula: a fantastic office culture (which is often also noticeable outside of working hours), times the above mentioned qualities of all colleagues, plus an awesome dose of team dynamics...you can probably imagine that the fun factor is very well covered.
A good work/life balance is of course also very important. What is your most preeminent way of detaching yourself from work?
When I walk out the door at Awin's house, Artis' giraffes and elephants are already laughing at me. And when I cycle home, I can enjoy everything the beautiful city of Amsterdam has to offer me. This is a wonderful change of scenery. Moreover, I like to run (well, jogging) in the Vondelpark, I like to go with friends to the pub and this summer I have repeatedly discovered that a BBQ on the rooftop terrace with a gorgeous view of the city also works wonders.
What are you looking forward to most for the second half of this year?
In the last quarter of this year, the implementation of our new performance management system is planned. This will enable employees, together with their managers, to set goals. To be even more in control of their own development.
Finally, do you have any special must-read, -see or -listen tip for us? Which statement, quote, book or film for example, has that unique business lesson you will always remember and stick to?
For sure I have them, but they are specifically focused on the HR field. So if you're involved in the development of people, Nico Smid's book 'Coaching on behaviour and results - A practical guide to cashing in talent' is invaluable. And if you are not a manager, but very curious to know why your colleagues or friends are making a career faster than you are, read Frans Wijngaarden's book 'Eigenaarschap' (Ownership). A source of inspiration!