During my years as a chef, one of the main things I learned was the importance of being organized and making sure that your team is prepared for any situation. Organizing a chaotic and messy environment is crucial in the kitchens, and you can’t ignore problems or pretend the mess isn’t there, or else it just builds up and gets even worse! Back then, of course, I did not know or believe that I will be able to use this knowledge in an office environment. Not many of us would I think.
Over time I realized that I had done enough organizing messy kitchens, coming home late nights and just overall living an upside-down life. This was when my partner and his best friend, whom both were working for Leaseweb, came forward with the suggestion to change career path fully and join them in the hosting world. They were patient enough to explain and answer all my questions, and they gave me enough IT knowledge to be confident enough to apply for the Customer Care Representative position. Well, after a year and a couple of applications – I was finally hired! I was excited and nervous at the same time, since I was insecure about my English language knowledge which is the language spoken in this role. Before Leaseweb, I had only experience working in hospitality, in countries where German was the spoken language.
Joining an ever-changing industry
I am the kind of person who needs constant challenges to keep me motivated. I enjoy learning and educating myself, and this was exactly what the Customer Care position required. IT is an industry where updates and change are constant, and this means you need to be able to rewrite the data you learn on a daily basis. I had to realize as well that people are also changing positions here regularly – and if I wanted to learn from someone, I would have to ask questions and extract their knowledge quickly before they were called away for higher positions.
As I was constantly learning and looking to understand everything properly, I soon became a trusted knowledge source to my colleagues on the floor.
I must add here that as the company was growing so quickly, they could not always figure out the best way to implement changes – some people would be annoyed by that, but I felt challenged. Of course, I could follow instructions and do my daily job, but on the side, I was already working on a to-do list for the future, when I can pick up a role for procedural changes, etc. I felt that I want to understand how the company works on every level, because every time I brought up something, there was a ‘’But…did you think of this,’’ and at the end of the conversation I would realize that I know so little! I had to create my own structure to do the daily work, find time for the challenges I set up for myself, and find the reliable knowledge sources to learn from.
Learning and development
Luckily, the company supported me in everything I wanted to do – they allowed me to join an intense Communication Skills course, where I learned how to put forward the message I want in a professional way. An IT office environment is different from what I was used to in hospitality – it is very multicultural and has a degree of politics. During this course, it was fascinating to sit with such a colourful group of people from different backgrounds. Since I had learned English only when I arrived in the Netherlands 2 years prior to this, I was worried that my knowledge would not be enough to discuss the psychology behind communications, or that I would not be able to communicate with people in higher positions, like managers or CEO’s. This course helped me to reach another level and gave me confidence regarding how I express myself.
Last summer, our Customer Care team was joined by a Manager with 20 years of experience in Data Center Operations, which made me excited about our future, but also because I knew I would have the opportunity to learn and develop considerably.
Shortly after his arrival, we sat down to have lunch together, and he started asking me questions about what I’ve done so far, what kind of experience I have and where I would like to go. He saw something in me, and after a short chat he told me that it seems that I would be a great teacher. He realized that I love to help people, support them, but also, that I need constant challenges and a chance to grow in order to keep me motivated. The next morning, they called me in for a meeting and asked me if I would like to take a position as a Trainer of the department. I cannot express enough how happy I was. The challenge was huge, but I was ready to take it.
Creating a training program
I was trusted with creating a training program, where we can prepare our new colleagues the most effective way and make sure they have all the support during their first months. To be honest, I felt that I would need to change my personality in order to do this because I never felt like the person who is very well organized. Although, when I look back at my time as a chef, I was always well prepared, and so was the kitchen. I was able to manage the time and everything we needed for a smooth start. However, because of a different environment, I was not able to see the similarities at first.
So, after we had several meetings to give me some guidelines, I had two months to create the program before my first trainees arrived. During these two months, I came to the realization that I am doing the job I have always wanted – without me considering this at all beforehand. This involved working in different office applications, communicating with other departments to make sure that everything I need, and managing people in a nice, supportive way.
Training multiple groups and being open for feedback helped me to improve the program in a way that the results can be noticed by other departments as well. They say, that since we’ve had the training, they have much less work explaining certain necessities to my colleagues, and they can simply work better, faster and more effective with each other. I could not express it enough how happy this makes me.
Looking forward to the future
Recently I have finished an intense Train-the-trainer course, which helped me realize how else I could improve in my role. In the next couple of months, I will be working on creating a solid structure for training, with all the digital and physical tools possible, so hopefully our program can be used elsewhere – by the other Leaseweb entities. And regarding myself, this position made me realize that I enjoy being a trainer, and I am good at planning. Hopefully, if I continue my job well enough, one day I would be able to work as Project Manager for the company. Lots to learn, but this is my motivation in life.
MaaikeApril 2, 2019 at 20:02
Such an inspiring story!
I am also working in a kitchen and I would love the change of scenery.
Only, I have no experience managing people, I am not a chef (yet).
Please, tell us more about what you learned in the kitchen about how to motivate your underlings!