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 kick-off this mini series with our Managing Director Lauri Koop.
Hi Lauri, could you introduce yourself to the readers? Who are you and what makes your role within Awin special?
Since 2013 I am the Managing Director of Awin Benelux. I am the son of a Finnish mother and Estonian father. Although you don’t hear my name often here in Holland, Lauri is one of the most common Finnish names. But no, that wasn’t the reason for me coming to this country. In 1999 I came to Amsterdam for a short project and I just instantly fell in love with this city. It’s actually the most beautiful city I know.
In my job as Managing Director I am responsible for our overall strategy and creating an environment where people can succeed. This is highly complex as there is no single formula for success, but in the same time it’s also the beauty of my role. That challenge is what drives me and gives me the right energy. Every day at Awin I can think on how to stretch the boundaries of the business and challenge people to overcome obstacles and look further.
What do you see as your biggest 'Awin success'?
Oh, definitely winning the award for Publishers’ Choice of Network The Netherlands. It’s such a massively proud moment when you see that publishers appreciate our hard work. But it’s also a very humble moment – you really must earn this and cannot take it for granted. This endorsement encourages me to work hard to keep earning that trust.
And what has been your biggest challenge in your career at Awin? How did you overcome it?
I came from outside the industry and I was a successor of founder Thomas Joosten. Entering a company which was run like a family business and figuring out this new sector I started working in was not easy. In my early career my then manager once said to me: “Lauri, the best view is from the driver's seat”. This is something that has always stuck with me – whenever I face a challenge I believe the only way is to roll up the sleeves and get in that driver's seat.
To untangle business and cultural challenges, I was sitting with all team members to learn how the organisation works. The full strategy was reviewed and changes to managers were introduced. Change is never easy, but being in the driver’s seat gives you the best chance to pull it off.
What exactly do you think is the strength of Awin Benelux and of the people who work there?
I believe in 'First Who, Then What'. Business challenges change, however if you have the right people on board, they will figure out how to adapt and capture new business opportunities. Dave Dirks, a friend of mine who works at venture capital company, told me once that when he invests in a start-up he prioritises the team over the business idea. You need a team to pull it off, just having an idea is not enough. And I fully agree with that view.
A winning team does not come automatically, we spend significant efforts on culture, empowerment and people development. Our Awin employee survey shows that our teams rank autonomy very highly – we foster the culture where people take ownership and initiative.
Is that also one of the, perhaps crucial, characteristics that causes you to enter the office every day with joy and energy?
I like the people who do not have to be told but are asking the questions themselves and push the boundaries. Those are the people from whom I can learn and who learn from each other.
A good work-life balance is of course also very important. What is your most preeminent way of detaching yourself from work?
There are two things that give me enormous joy outside of work. First and foremost my family; I have two kids at home who make me laugh every morning, evening and weekend. And the second is my love for playing tennis; every week, as soon as I enter the tennis court, only the match exists to me and I give my all to win it.
What are you looking forward to with regards to the second half of this year?
We have all worked very hard to migrate zanox and affilinet clients to our Awin platform, which provides many enhancements in terms of tracking, monetizing the content and business intelligence. We have great technical features which our partners can leverage for the peak commercial moments of the year (e.g. with Black Friday and Christmas). I’m therefore very much looking forward to seeing all our partners using the Awin platform tools & features during these commercial moments. I bet that it will definitely help to exceed last year’s results!
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?
Oof, where to start… I mean, I read quite a lot and airports are perfect for 15 to 20-minute TED Talks, so to be honest my list is never-ending. But here are a few favourites of mine you really can’t live without:
The TED Talks you should definitely check out before the day’s out: Simon Sinek with 'Start with Why' and Amy Cuddy with 'Your body language may shape who you are'.
And my must-read book tips are: ‘Good to Great’ by Jim Collins, ‘How Google Works’ by Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg, and Elon Musk’s biography by Ashlee Vance.