Interview part II: Moving up in the moving business

Have you recently been promoted within your relocation organisation? Or, do you have the ambition to evolve and take on more responsibilities? Then you will want to read this article carefully.

My name is Isabelle Harsch and – as a FIDI 39 Club member – I strongly believe in sharing experiences and learning from each other. That’s why I asked a few of my fellow 39 Club members how they rose to the top of the relocation industry.

In the first part of this feature, I asked my colleagues about the experience of moving up within their families’ organisations.

Presenting: our panel

presentation 3 interviewees


 

 

Were you ready for promotion?

Simona:  In my life I have never shied away from new opportunities – and this is what I did during my career. I thought I was probably not ready because of my age, but thanks to my desire to grow up, and with the support of my family and the endorsement of my colleagues, I didn’t give up.


“ I moved a lot with my family when I was a child; we moved every five years because of my parents’ work. At that time I thought the moving industry was just a matter of moving boxes. ” – Simona
 

Jackie:  Yes, I’ve always welcomed new opportunities or added responsibilities. I think in this industry much of what you learn is through experience. While formal training is essential, there is only so much you can be taught and you have to be willing to take on new and bigger roles to help yourself grow.

Matthieu:  I had the pleasure of gradually taking on more senior positions, and within the competitive but supportive environment Voerman provided it was not a problem to take the next steps. The progress was natural for me personally, even though some of the steps might have been quite large.

This is especially true of the step from Voerman to Aspire; going from a commercial role to a general management role brought some interesting challenges and, in retrospect, I was less ready than I thought I was. Luckily I could build on the knowledge of Gunnar Moeskjaer and made the position my own quite quickly.

 

Biggest challenge in your new role?

Simona:  The biggest challenge I’ve found is the pressure to perform, especially since we are talking about a company with more than 100 years of history. It is a big responsibility. I have been given an incredible opportunity and now I have to show that I was worth it.

Jackie:  As you are promoted within your company, and even though you may be ready and willing to do the job, you will make mistakes. It will happen inevitably, but in the end you learn from it and mistakes can make you stronger in your role.   


“ I remember in my job interview with my (then and current) boss, he kept saying “and you’re sure you want this job?” Yes, Phil, I am sure! ” – Jackie
 

Matthieu:  The biggest challenges in taking on new roles and responsibilities were mostly because of my own personality: being slightly impatient and wanting to know everything within a short time frame is not always helpful. Learning the hard way by trial and error, and accepting that I might not have all the world’s wisdom, helped me a lot.

 

Did you look for mentoring?

Matthieu:  I was fortunate enough to be employed in well-respected organisations where I could absorb the knowledge of people like Ed van Bodegraven, Wiebe van Bockel and the Voerman family, as well as Niels Bach and Gunnar Moeskjaer at my current employer.

They have greatly supported, and contributed to, my path of growth with their constructive feedback and mind challenging conversations. Plus they’ve also provided the opportunity to complete several FIDI Academy courses. Patience is a virtue, both for me as well as those that have had the ‘pleasure’ of managing me.
 

“ As with the majority in our industry, the plan was not to become a mover… as a matter of fact, there was no plan. " – Matthieu
 

Simona:  Guidance and mentoring played a very important role for me. I sought guidance from Clement and Robert Bolliger in particular, but also from colleagues who have been working for the company for years. I will always be grateful to them.

Jackie:  Definitely! Everyone should. I’ve been lucky enough to have the same managers for my entire career, and I am constantly asking their opinions or bouncing ideas off them. They also ‘keep me in line’ when I need it, because despite what I sometimes think, I don’t know everything. Mentoring is a good thing – seek it out and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

 

Any advice for young professionals?

Simona:  It may seem trivial, but the advice is ‘do good work’ and ‘lead by example’. Do everything to the best of your ability, invest in people development and don’t be afraid to ask questions. You are not alone and you are not supposed to know everything.

Jackie:  You cannot take on a new role and do it perfectly from day one – but you need to do it anyway. Don’t shy away from taking on greater responsibilities and/or actively seeking out new roles for yourself, and don’t be too proud to ask for help when you need it. You are surrounded by people with more experience and knowledge than you and they are a resource for you.    

Matthieu:  My biggest advise to the younger (damn, I feel old now) generation is that it all starts with attitude. You might not have all the knowledge or wisdom, but with a positive, proactive attitude combined with patience you will get a long way in your career. Listen to the experienced people around you, adopt their knowledge and make it your own.


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