Erwin van der Hoek (29) started the Venturn Young Professionals (VYP) programme in August 2018. At that time, he was already employed at Neele-Vat and he was the first employee there to follow the VYP programme. In the five years since, Erwin has made several steps in his career and is now Manager of Oostvogels Logistics.
Erwin studied Logistics Management at Hogeschool Rotterdam. Born under the smoke of Rotterdam, his interest in the maritime and logistics sector started early. ”When I used to have dinner somewhere with my grandparents, we always went to a restaurant with a view on the Waterweg so we could see the ships passing by. We would also go into the port to find spots where we could watch the container ships pass by.” The interest in this industry came mainly from the shipping part, but during his studies Erwin found out he’s interested in the entire supply chain.
He wrote his graduation thesis in Logistics Management at Neele-Vat’s Gas Measurement Station. After finishing, he was asked to stay at Neele-Vat. Erwin started to work as a Corporate Management Trainee at Schiphol Airport in the air cargo department. ”They wanted to attach a learning programme to this, so in addition I was the first one to follow the Venturn Young Professionals programme. That was interesting for Neele-Vat because the collaboration with Venturn was still in its infancy. I was kind of the guinea pig, haha.”
Erwin looks back on the programme positively. ”It was a very interesting programme with trainers of a high level. I liked the data science part, because that was also part of my area of interest. But I also found the personal development part instructive.” Where does he think the strength of the programme lies? ”In speaking with the other VYP’ers. You learn a lot from each other. You’re all taking your first steps into the field. That is very valuable.”
”Everyone felt safe to share things: both work-related and personal.”
What Erwin has remembered most about Venturn is the sociability. Erwin himself was not employed by Venturn like most of the VYP’ers, but this did not make him any less involved with the group. ”I found it a very warm company. It is on a smaller scale, but I also liked the atmosphere within Venturn. Within the group there was a very nice atmosphere as well, everyone felt safe to share things: both work-related and personal.”
After completing the VYP programme, Erwin moved into the role of Process manager, then became Business Development Manager and currently he holds the role of Manager Oostvogels Logistics. Oostvogels Logistics was acquired by Neele-Vat in 2018. Last year, changes in the management and board team led to Erwin being asked to become responsible for Oostvogels Logistics. That seemed like a great challenge to him, and he grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
The focus in his job is mainly on business development. ”When I came in, a number of steps could be taken in terms of progress. For example, we looked at the organizational structure and made some changes to it. Furthermore, we also expanded the square footage of our warehouses. In the time I have been here, we have opened three warehouses.” In addition, Erwin also deals with people development, operational processes, financial tasks and, of course, the commercial side. His activities can best be summarized as developing, optimizing and expanding Oostvogels Logistics.
”It is important to gather the right people around you with the right competences that complement your own competences.”
Erwin emphasizes that he could not have done this without the team he has around him: “It is important to gather the right people around you with the right competences that complement your own competences. This is how you create a strong team and that is of great importance. You never do it alone.”
In a short time, Erwin has developed himself considerably at Neele-Vat: from intern to manager in about 5 years. How did he do that? ”In the end, you just have to live up to it. You must keep working hard, go for it 100%, and if you eventually show what you are doing then the opportunities will come naturally. And of course, it was the management of Neele-Vat who saw it in me. If that wasn’t the case, of course it becomes a lot more difficult.” For now, Erwin is still in a good place as Manager Oostvogels, but eventually he hopes to move up to Board Director one day. Why? ‘’When you become a board director, you have several business units under your supervision. Within all those units you have different challenges within the supply chain. And develop, optimize and expand the business is something I aspire to do. I already do this in my current role on a smaller scale, but as director I take it one step further.’’
To this day, Erwin still applies several things from the VYP programme in his current job. These are interview techniques and situational leadership. ”That is something I have really continued to apply, the part about selling yourself and the company. When I joined Oostvogels I really thought about this specific part: what do we stand for and how do you want to present yourself as a company?” His tip to current and future VYP’ers? ”Enjoy it. You do fun things together. Before you know it, it’s over.”