Channel your ambitions

S&L at Work: Daan van Hulten

Introduction

The path I followed at Tilburg University was one of six years, in which I did the Bachelor Business Economics, a Master in Finance, several committees and finally a board year to end my student time. My name is Daan van Hulten and I was chairman of the board in the year 2014-2015. Currently I am a management trainee at PostNL in the area of finance.

First working experiences

I was asked to write an article about my working experience. Of course, I was happy to do this. However, I wrote this article a few months later than expected, since I quit my first job. This, however, does provide a twist to this article (and makes it a bit longer). I will start talking about these experiences (if you don’t like this, you can skip to the next heading).

September 2015, after several interviews I got two offers from consultancy firms. I thought about it for a long time, and made my choice based on which one fitted best. November 2015, I started working. I quickly found out that it was not what I had expected and I had a hard time filling up my days. I started thinking about why I started there, and concluded that instead of starting there because of my motivation for the job, I more or less took it because I got the offer and it seemed all right. When I got two offers, I was more busy deciding which of the two it was going to be, instead of thinking about the option they both might not have been what I was looking for. That thought did not pop up earlier, because I was thinking: “it’s going to be tough to find a good job these days, I should make sure I find one quickly!”

Although some people reacted surprised when I quit after already one month (“don’t you need to try it out for some time? / aren’t you taking a risk, since you don’t have any other income than?”), I knew it was the right choice for me. Luckily my family and friends supported me.

So, as of December 1, 2015, I found myself looking for a job again. I started right away, but the first thing I needed to clear was: what do I want? I thought this through, but it was not so hard for me to answer. I just did not pay attention to it the previous time. I really wanted to do something with my main two interests, namely leadership and finance. Leadership, is something I developed myself in during my board year, part-time job as manager, and by reading about the subject. Finance is my main interest regarding fields in business economics, which is why I also chose this as my master. Both, I missed at my previous job. Furthermore, I also concluded I wanted to be at one firm, where I could be a part of something for the long-term, having a common goal with a team, instead of doing a project and then hopping to the next client.

With this in mind, I started looking for jobs again and I landed on several train-eeships. I applied for three, of which PostNL was one. As I made steps in the ap-plication procedure, I felt more and more sure that this was my favorite option. First of all, it was the best option because it had the leadership trainings and finance aspect combined. Secondly, I really felt the match as of my first interview. Last, but not least, as I was reading to prepare myself, I found out how cool the market is in which PostNL operates, since it’s extremely dynamic and they thus have to change approaches constantly. I got two out of three offers, and instantly chose for PostNL.

Working at PostNL

How is the work?

Now, some time later, I still know I have made the right choice. Working at PostNL really suits me. I get good guidance and I have learned a lot in a short amount of time. My first project was implementing process improvement be-tween two departments: a really cool challenge, and not something most people get to do in their first months!

Currently, I am working on my second project. This one is at the parcels business unit of PostNL. I wanted to do this assignment, because it is more about business control, which might be an interesting position for me after my second project. But most of all I also wanted to do this assignment, because I wanted to experience what it’s like in Hoofddorp, where the parcels office is located. While Mail has decreasing numbers, parcels is growing like crazy. This also affects the culture and the way people work. My project consists of several parts, one of being control of a special division of parcels: food, which is a major growth market for the company, I believe.

After this second project, I will start in a finance function, probably as business controller. My experiences from my two projects should help me in determining what function and at which business unit.

What is the culture like?

PostNL has a really informal culture, with very down to earth people, who like a laugh. For me, this is really important. Since you spent a lot of time of your week at work, it’s very helpful if that time is shared with colleagues who want to get to know you, want to have a beer with you, ask about your holiday, and want to talk about Game of Thrones and stuff. Something I also like is that people really listen to you and make a lot of time to discuss things or show how they work. Everybody makes time to get a cup of coffee so you get to know one another. This culture also translates in the way of working. Working at home? Sure, no problem! Have to go home early because you have something planned? Nobody turns their heads, since everybody knows: each one has his/her own responsibilities. Whether you do that in the train, at home or at work doesn’t matter. This creates a feeling of mutual trust and is a mature way of working I believe. A firm policy where you work from standard time to time (+overtime because you need to make a good impression) is way outdated in my opinion.

What about the traineeship?

The Young Executive Programme of PostNL is a management traineeship, but your functions are in a specific area. For instance, I do finance, and there are also trainees doing logistics and IT, but we all have the same courses about personal development and leadership. We haven’t had our first course yet, because our group of people isn’t full yet, but I have been told it’s extremely educational and a lot of fun! Also, the fact that you have people of the same age around you who also just started to work, makes the transition to working life easier and more fun, since you have a group of people to join at lunch or meet up with to get a beer.

Help of S&L

The position I am in now, I could not have reached without everything S&L of-fered me. I met PostNL at an S&L event, I got in touch with the recruiter via peo-ple in my Asset network, and everything I learned at S&L, I could use in my ap-plication as examples of why I would be the right person. Besides, all the soft skills I used in my committees and board year, such as presenting, being able to have a say in important matters, and getting more out of talks/meetings when you know how to approach people, are just a few examples of things I know I learned at Asset and not during my studies.

Future

What I like most besides finance is leadership. I learned that in my parttime job as manager and in my board year as chairman. That’s why, in the future (hope-fully ten or fifteen years), I would like to have a management function. This is also why I chose this traineeship, to have both leadership courses and finance as a package deal. Getting a management position requires you to stay some time at a firm. Someone recently asked me if I would see myself working at PostNL in ten years. I said “yes”. Truly, you never know which opportunities come along the way, but PostNL is a very large company with a lot of possibilities to improve the firm or do different projects, so I won’t be bored very easily. Besides, I like living in the present and at this moment, I am liking the hell out of my new job.

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