Part three: Shirley Muller – HR Manager
Since January 2019, Shirley has been working at Vanenburg as an HR Manager in the Netherlands. As Shirley mentions herself: ‘HR is my passion. In various positions,I have always been involved with personnel and organizational matters. At the beginning in a more commercial role as an account manager secondment, and after that as an HR manager and advisor. A common thread is that I have always worked in the IT industry.’
‘I get satisfaction from my work when I can align the organization and personal interests of employees. When people work together with success, passion, and pleasure, then my mission is accomplished.’
‘I am married, have two boys (12 and 13 years old), and live in Putten. My biggest hobby is horse riding; I have actively practiced equestrian sport for a long time. Nowadays, horse riding is limited to a ride in the woods now and then. I also like good food and holidays to stunning destinations.’
Profile Shirley Muller:
Bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management, NCOI
Previous working experience:
Solvinity, HR Advisor
Virtual Sciences, Account Manager
Inter Access, Resource Manager
What do you do on a daily basis at Vanenburg?
Honestly, no single day is the same. In addition to the fixed, operational aspects of HR such as administration, consultation, and supervising the inflow, outflow, and promotion of employees, I support management with HR issues as well.
Next to that, I am there for our colleagues, and I am helping them by answering and/or solving questions they have as much as possible. At the same time, my colleague Magesh is responsible for HR-related activities for our colleagues in our office in India.
The great thing about this is that a workweek is never boring. On the other hand, planning my work is sometimes challenging, and requires a lot of flexibility, but I am used to that.
Can you tell us more about your work experience in general?
I have held various positions within the field of personnel and organization for both medium-sized and smaller companies. For example, for a start-up, I set up the entire personnel policy and advised and supported management in the recruitment, selection, and development of employees.
As HR manager for a larger organization, I was responsible for the entire HR domain, translating the business plan into a comprehensive HR plan, including terms and conditions of employment. How to set priorities to achieve the determined management goals was very interesting and challenging. And in the job, before I joined Vanenburg, I was the HR advisor for the HR activities of two locations/business units.
I think my strength lies in the fact that I can bridge the gap between business interests on the one hand and the wishes of employees on the other. I always try to enter into a dialogue with a positive and enthusiastic attitude.
Why did you choose to work at Vanenburg and what do you enjoy most?
For me, the trigger to start looking for another position was to find a better work-life balance. At my previous employer, I was often on the road to various branches. Due to the growth of the company, I noticed that I had to travel more and more. As my children went to primary school, it became difficult to find a work-life balance. At Vanenburg, they were looking for an HR Manager for 16 hours a week at the Putten location. Close to home, with fewer hours, that matched my wishes nicely. And again an IT company, so that also fitted in well.
But of course, I also want to have fun at work. The first conversations with the management and colleagues were very pleasant and felt like coming home to this innovative and dynamic company. The choice was quickly made for me. Vanenburg is a wonderful company where I work with great enthusiasm and energy. Add to that the beautiful working location, on a 17th-century estate. What else do you want?
What kind of skills do you require in your day-to-day work?
In addition to my professional expertise, a number of characteristics and skills are important.
Characteristics that are also core values for me are integrity and respect. Both colleagues, as well as management, must be able to share confidential information with me and to contact me with questions, knowing that I will always handle this confidentially and with care. I can only advise the organization and people if I know what is going on. Only then, I can make creative proposals to get things done, while respecting everyone’s interest as much as possible.
If we look at the core skills, organizational talent, and problem-solving abilities are the most important. Many questions come to me due to strategic choices of the organization or due to changing external circumstances (think of Covid and its consequences for work or changing laws and regulations). Then a lot has to be organized and planned out, whereby a ready-made answer is not always immediately available. Then I think it’s great if, in my role as HR Manager and with the experience I have at IT companies, I can contribute to shaping and implementing a new policy.
What distinguishes Vanenburg’s culture from other IT companies?
Vanenburg has the charm of a family business and combines this with the features and professionalism of a corporate company. This combination enables us to be the trusted partner for complex and strategic business solutions for various clients.
In addition, Vanenburg has strong core standards and values, which ensure recognisability and a close bond between our colleagues. For example, integrity is a big part of our DNA, but also customer first. For me, my colleagues are my customers, and I put their needs first in order to help them thrive at Vanenburg.
At Vanenburg, our own people make the most impact on customer projects. What do you appreciate the most about our employees?
Our team consists of a unique set of individuals who collectively form the strength of our organization. Everyone is based on his or her core competencies and his or her unique style and motivation. There is a broad variety of people here, where the combination of experienced coworkers on one side, and the young talent on the other makes it a very strong team overall. The common denominator I see is professionalism, collegiality, and loyalty to the company and clients.
There has never been a customer that did not trust any of our people. It is admirable to see clients having complete confidence in our people, regardless of their working experience.
What kind of challenges do you see in the HR domain?
With the current Covid pandemic, it is a major challenge to maintain the connection between the company and the people. My primary concern is the well-being of my colleagues. Therefore my priority is to come up with proposals to optimize the (home) working conditions, vitality, and bonding with the company.
Another challenge is the fact that we are growing as a company, but at the same time, there is a shortage in the labor market. One of the main challenges is visibility to the outside world and to differentiate ourselves from competitors. I see it as an important task to make our beautiful company known to the labor market and future entrants to the labor market (students). This is called employer branding in the HR field; the activity to captivate and bind employees to our company.
How to overcome these challenges?
With regard to work and vitality, I see it as a joint effort by management and employees. Concrete plans are currently being worked out. I am also planning to mobilize people who want to think alone and work on vitality initiatives and team activities, for example.
In relation to employer branding, this requires storytelling: why is it so cool to be a Vanenburg employee (or as we call it in this series, a ‘modernizer’) and how do we bring that message to our future colleagues? Close collaboration between marketing and HR is essential to transfer this message to the rest of the world.
Can you tell us a bit about the current job openings at Vanenburg?
We currently have no less than eight vacancies in the Netherlands. These include commercial, marketing, and technical positions.
Due to our growth ambition, there will be even more vacancies in the coming year. We have already been able to fill some of these vacancies with three new employees as of January 1 and one new employee starting in February. I can’t wait to welcome more new employees!
Can you tell us a bit about Vanenburg’s growth strategy for the coming years?
In 2021, Vanenburg has already grown in team size by more than 25% and in operational revenue by more than 50%. For the coming 5 years, we have an ambitious triple-digit growth plan, which includes a doubling of our current team size.
Quite a nice challenge from an HR perspective I think! With this growing strategy, it is crucial to keep being attractive to our current employees and to empower them, next to being an attractive employer for new employees.
What can people expect from working at Vanenburg?
“Expectation is the killer of joy, the shortest route to disappointment” – Seth Godin
What I find important is that (prospective) employees know very well what they want to achieve themselves, and meanwhile contributing to the success of Vanenburg; the key question then is what they need from Vanenburg in order to achieve this.
Interested in becoming our colleague? Check our vacancies