What's your job at Xella?
I am accountable and responsible for human resources, which means people, culture and organization development within the Netherlands, Belgium, UK, Spain, and France. We are undergoing a transformation where HR is having a say at the different tables, and we are shifting from operational to, tactical and strategic HR and resource management. “People, Culture & Leadership" are topics on the agenda now. There is a strong focus on the development of people, talent management, succession management, organizational development, and leadership. I'm also trying to get ourselves, our managers, our teams, to do things differently, to work together more, to learn from each other, to not look at silos.
I also stand for transparency that we have the right conversation about difficult things.
How long have you been working for Xella, and what did you do before?
I've worked for Royal BAM Group, a very big construction company within the Netherlands, for 19 years. I joined Xella in the middle of the pandemic, in May 2021. It was a very big step to move from BAM to Xella. I had a very good time at BAM, but when I spoke to Xella, I thought, I can add a lot of value here and I really want to do that.
How do you personally feel about change?
We need to develop ourselves because the world is changing too fast and the way we are doing things is also changing. Therefore, we need agility and flexibility. Agility means that we are aware and responsive to what is happening in the changing world around us, as well as being aware of our own shifting thoughts. I think the pandemic and the way that we needed to shift or mindset, way of living and working are very good examples for this new needed flexibility.
What lessons did you learn from the pandemic?
In the pandemic we were working remotely. Being in contact with each other was difficult. So, for me it is very important to engage, involve and retain the people we have. And how can we be more attractive also for others to join? For me we can do this by the way we are doing things together, having a speak up culture and it is about leadership - topics that are getting a lot of attention.
What do you like about your job?
We are moving forward. Every day, I meet people who are enthusiastic and are willing to do something to go further on in creating the Xella future. What I also like is that I talk to people who are also very critical. So, I can take what I hear from employees or managers and incorporate it into what we do in the business.
How important is safety for your everyday work?
Safety is very important to me and i know as a leader I need to give the right example and have the conversation about Safety. For me that also includes the psychological confidence of being able to give open feedback at any time within our organization.
You are part of the group of high potential women at Xella. What does that mean to you personally?
I get support on my own career progression. There are things that I personally want to develop further, and I have a coach and a mentor. Maybe this pool will develop into a female community within the organization. I want to connect our female talents and female employees together in some kind of community so they can find each other. I would like to be a mentor for the younger ones. My list for this year is to look at how can we allocate all the Xella females. We really need role models within Xella and in the construction industry.
You travelled the world, worked in Singapore and Jakarta. Did that change the way you think?
Yes, it made me more open minded and gave me more awareness of diversity and how to connect with people in different cultures. We have our own habits, way of thinking but that’s not necessarily what others do or think too. To be aware of this is something that I think of everyday in the conversations that I have. It's good to have different views and perspectives in a company. I think we will gain from this. Inclusion is also very important. For instance, you see also a lot of men who are struggling with their work-life-balance. That's not only ”exclusive” for women to battle with. Our unconscious biases need to be addressed more. Therefore, we are doing diversity trainings for instance. What kind of words are we using, or what kind of subjectivity are we using in the conversations that we're having? That's also something I'm trying to raise awareness for.
You have set yourself a lot of goals. How do you recharge your batteries?
I like to take care of people. We often have people around at the weekend for dinner or sleepovers. I go on holidays and like sports. Work is very important for me but having time to recharge is as much as important too. I really like different people - and sports.