My name is Githa van Beurden, and I have been working in the export department of The Schippers Group since 2002. Yes, that has indeed been over 20 years, I never expected that!
In the third year of my agribusiness course at the agricultural school, I had to complete a five-month domestic internship. I then started looking for agriculturally oriented companies in the area and quickly came across The Schippers Group. During this internship, I worked in the “internal sales” department. In addition to my assignment, a customer satisfaction survey, I organized a press day for two new products (the Skippy and Reflexator). There was a lot of media attention for this at the time, with even two TV recordings. With Mark Schippers we were in Belgium for 'Man bijt hond', and in The Netherlands with Harrie Schippers for something like the RTL 5 news. This remains a nice story and a beautiful experience.
A few months after my internship I was approached for an export position and although I had not quite finished school yet, I started here. At the time, it was a department of two people, one of whom was going on maternity leave. Exports then mainly went to a few small dealers in Europe.
In principle, my position has not changed much in all these years, only very expanded. Where in the beginning we only traded with a few dealers in Europe, we now trade with the entire world. In the export department, we now focus mainly on MS Gold (products that we produce ourselves), which used to be much broader.
And where I used to have to arrange things from start to finish, now everyone has his/her own specialization. I remember that I used to have to type official documents with a typewriter and always had to physically go to customs with the drivers. Now there is much more focus and I am responsible for the sales side, logistics and documentation are in a different department.
It was always nice to be able to finish things from start to end, but now I have bigger and more challenging projects. For the past three years, I have been dedicated to the Asian market, which provides numerous opportunities for us as it is the largest growth market. I work very closely with the field advisors and, especially now that a few colleagues have emigrated, this offers many opportunities. I have contact with distributors, take care of registrations, ensure that everything regarding orders runs smoothly, coordinate purchasing and production and answer questions. They provide technical support to companies that allows us to add more value. So we really work as a team.
The international aspect makes it really fun for me. I also think that is why I have lasted so long in one department. The different cultures make it very varied, every country and every customer is different. After all these years you really build a bond together. And although I do not travel abroad often, it's nice to have a face behind a customer. This comes naturally over the years, either because customers visit here, or because I meet them at one of the international fairs. So yes, I still travel, but I do not have the ambition to be away for two weeks every month. For me this is the perfect balance. I like the contact with the customers when they are here, I arrange everything from start to finish. I occasionally travel to Asia for a trade show and I can do everything else from here.
In the world of export you always work with time differences. So some form of flexibility is needed to do this. Now that I focus more on Asia, this becomes easier. I like to start early anyway, so I make sure that I speak to everyone I need to speak to in the morning. In the case of physical contact, this is done via video calls and chat programs, but we organize most of the work by email. The nice thing about email is that everything is fixed and that you can look it up again.
The company's focus is increasingly towards export. Our export team has grown considerably in recent years, but the potential is still enormous. So yes, in the next five years we really have to take steps to grow and that is a nice challenge.
I also want us to be able to take HyCare further internationally. Now the focus is mainly on MS Gold products. .
And if I look back, you start with 2 people and a few dealers in Europe and now I work with 20 people and many local individuals all over the world. Still relatively small but with so many opportunities!
At HAS I was given an export course, I remember studying for the exam and thinking: "I'am never going to do anything with this." You then grow into a position and it turns out to be a very good fit.. So if I had to give advice, it would mainly be: "Be open to great opportunities even if it is not the first thing you think of as your interests". With an open mind there may be many more opportunities.
If I translate that to our company: "We are still small in the export world, so there are still so many opportunities to further develop yourself."
There are many favorite moments! We have always had a very active staff association. I must also say that I have missed very few staff parties. This ranges from hilarious quiz nights, ski weekends, theme parties to sports tournaments.
It is very nice to work for a family business. It brings an informal atmosphere with short lines of communication that I really like.
- Githa van Beurden