Interview with Walter van de Waterbeemd, Chief Human Resources Officer

Tell us a bit about your role at Leaseweb.

At Leaseweb, I am Chief Human Resources Officer and responsible for the global HR policies and the alignment of HR operations between all (international) entities. By analyzing the market, adequate strategies can be developed to stay an employer of choice and compete in a competitive industry where good employees are hard to find and to keep. Also the HR strategy is based on the internal demand policies and arrangements that are being developed.

What attracted you to Leaseweb?

Leaseweb is a fast-paced company where in the beginning the business grew more quickly than the development of the internal organization. This meant that the internal policies and instruments were lagging behind, which had an effect on the employees. So the challenges in the field of HR were significant – a lot had to be done, and put in place and I like this kind of challenge. So far, my team and I have been successful in putting HR on the map. We now have a robust and reliable HR department, which attracts the right people, administers the correct stuff and, most importantly, where employees strive to do better today than yesterday to serve our customers worldwide. There is an atmosphere of trust in HR, and we deliver what we promise.

Also, the fit between me and the other members of the executive committee was good, so this was another deciding factor for me.

How would you describe the culture at Leaseweb?

Leaseweb is a flat organization where every colleague matters. There is an open and transparent atmosphere, where people feel at home and have fun in their workspace. Everyone is empowered to do his or her job, and there is an atmosphere of trust. We all share one thing, and that is the fun we have in doing our job. Leaseweb creates possibilities and aims to let everyone take their career in their own hands. Personal development is key. Work-life balance is one thing, but being proud of Leaseweb and having fun in what you do is just as important.

As Chief HR Officer, how do you make employees feel empowered, engaged, and challenged in the workplace?

I strongly believe that by letting people take responsibility for their own job and by trusting them in what they do, you empower employees to perform to the maximum of their capabilities. The trust you give will keep them engaged and challenged. From an HR point of view, the HR hygiene factors should always be in place and up to date. Otherwise, this will become a dissatisfier and affect the engagement. We have invested in the development of employees with a career framework where they can see what possibilities there are to further their career and how to get there. We offer a wide variety in learning possibilities, because no one is the same. People can take talent tests, learn via e-learning platforms, training on the job, traineeships, and educate themselves via our Leaseweb learning platform that offers more than 5000 courses in the Netherlands. We truly live by our core values common sense, having fun and get it done, because they contribute to the feeling of empowerment, engagement, and challenge.

What initiatives have you been working on recently?

I am always working on the continuous improvement of our Learning and Development Platforms. On local levels we have been introducing all kinds of programs and benefits to attract and keep the right people on board, like pension arrangements, health insurances, development plans, Restricted Stock Unit plan, Employee Shared Purchase Plan, and Personal Development Plans. Besides those plans, we have more than 40 cultures working in various offices. Therefore we have a Cultural Awareness Workshop to learn about the different habits and backgrounds of your colleagues. This contributes to a better understanding of each other, better communication, and better collaboration.

You spent some time in the military. What did you learn from working at the Dutch Air Force?

I learned that good leadership will make people better and improve the overall results of a group. Facilitating people will bring much more than restricting and dictating them. When you give guidance and decide the direction/vision, they will all follow and be highly motivated. Stay away from micro-management and have trust in the knowledge and abilities of your employees; let them do their job. For them it is always a balance between what and when to report and let the manager take the end responsibility. That is what it is all about.

Be in control, but don’t check everything by the minute or letter. Give people room to make mistakes. That is the only way to learn, and you need to let others learn from their mistakes. In aviation this is called a “just culture.”

Tell us about a leader who has inspired you throughout your career.

I have no particular leader who inspired me, but several leaders in my career were to some extent an inspiration on certain topics or lessons in life. It all depended on the stage of my personal development and stage in my life.

The older you get, the more experience you gain by putting all inspirations together. This could be beneficial to share with other, mostly younger people who just started their journey in life and work and be their source of inspiration.

What is your personal philosophy?

I have some ground rules I live by.

  • The only one who can make you happy is you; in private and in work
  • As a manager, I will always make sure my colleagues can do their work in a safe environment and let them take ownership. The end responsibility is always mine. I can facilitate them with my knowledge and experience.

If you could fill a swimming pool with one thing, what would that be?

For swimming you would need water and I love a good glass of single malt whiskey, so I would fill the pool with “(fire-)water.”  From the Wiktionary:

Walter van de Waterbeemd

1 comment
  1. Roeki Wekker
    Roeki Wekker
    August 12, 2019 at 20:48

    Walter, wat een geweldig interview! Jouw denkwijze en inzichten zijn echt zo herkenbaar! :-) Drink graag een glaasje whisky met je!

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