Interview Anouk Wissink

Denise Kooistra | 12 July 2017

Interview Anouk Wissink – Koninklijke Vezet by Jan Lugtig, Trainee Inspired-Talent, about talent development.

Can you tell me about your background?
I was born and raised in Twente, after high school I studied Industrial Engineering and Management at the University of Twente. At that point, I did not know what I wanted to do but I knew I was good at beta subjects and Economics. During my thesis, I got in touch with Ahold, where I started a traineeship after graduation. When I was asked about my dreams in a job interview I answered: “to become the boss of a large distribution center”.
Because of the traineeship and various growth possibilities I got at Ahold, I became manager of a large regional distribution center of Albert Heijn at age 33. Currently, I am Director Supply Chain & New Business at Royal Vezet in Warmenhuizen.

What is it about Supply Chain that appeals to you?
During my traineeship, I got in touch with various functions, including logistics and commercial roles. I have learned a lot and decided to pursue a career in Supply Chain. It gives me great satisfaction to achieve a result with a large group of people.

What type of company is Royal Vezet?
Vezet is the largest vegetable and fruit processing company in Europe that delivers freshly cut vegetables, fruit and meal salads. Our mission is to make it easier for people to eat more vegetables and fruit. That is also of high importance on the national food agenda: healthier and more sustainable food. This includes, amongst others, more vegetables and fruit. Our products have short lead times such that the cut vegetables remain as fresh as possible. To realize this, we have a team of planners on the Supply Chain department consisting of:
• Demand planners
• Tactical planners
• Operational & Supply planners
• A call-off planner
• A project team

How is the planning organized at Vezet?
Our market is very dependent on influences such as promotions at customers and the weather. As such it is very important to have a good forecast. The demand planner in cooperation creates the forecast with the customer daily. The tactical planner is responsible for the right capacity and checks whether there are sufficient resources and people. The operational and the supply planner make the production plan, place the orders and fulfill the daily planning tasks.

The call off planners ensures sufficient availability of raw materials, ingredients and packaging. Recently we have added a project team to the department that focuses on improving the processes. It is of importance to me that we pay enough attention to this.

What is your vision to the development of talent?
I think that new talents have a lot of theoretical knowledge and I find this very valuable. However, the most important to me are your competencies. Especially in Supply Chain you must be in control, cooperate with people from various departments to achieve the results. You need to have strong horizontal leadership. Because of this I think everyone should receive the opportunity and must invest in training such as, skill training, leadership training or personal effectivity training.

Students need to get in touch with companies early, so they know how it is to work in a company – through internships and projects for example. This should get a lot of attention and not be taken out of the curriculum, as is the case at some universities at this moment. Besides that, you will not only learn at universities or in high school. We will get increasingly older and we must work longer; as such it is of great importance to keep developing.

Are companies putting enough effort to develop talents?
That is hard to say. Vezet is always working on it. If you want to move forward as a company you will have to stimulate development of your people. That is why we have the ‘talent program’ and more focus on education and development for our management. Personally, I like to spend time training talent and I have planned to always create opportunities for development.
It does need to be a conscious decision of the company, since development will not go without effort. It needs time and coaching. The company needs to set the right priorities, even during busy times. This starts with simply allowing students to do an internship or write their thesis at the company. In doing so I am always looking for a win-win situation for e.g. thesis and internship positions. Any company can do so. Ultimately, that is a win for everyone.

Is it hard to find good planners?

Yes, it is hard to find good planners. The demand for good planners is very high since the discipline is growing so fast. Secondly, experience is important for many functions as well, such as the demand planner role. The impact can be enormous when the wrong decisions are made. To this I do not make concessions anymore. At operational planning, we have very interesting starter roles. In this function, you can learn how to plan, improve your communicative skills, learn how to cooperate and get to know the company. From this function, you can then progress into another role.

In addition, we notice that Vezet is relatively unknown in The Netherlands. For this reason, we are creating more brand awareness for the company as one of the most interesting and challenging supply chains of The Netherlands.

What is a valuable lesson you would like to teach starters in Supply Chain?
I would like to tell starters the not only content is important in Supply Chain, but realizing what you want to realize too. You will only succeed by cooperating. By yourself you cannot make the difference. To make the difference you will have to keep a clear goal in mind, knowing how to reach it. With this plan, you can proceed. Only once you have received the result you have made the difference. In addition, it is important to keep open minded about development. Only if you are eager to learn you can advance.

Is there a set path to becoming a good planner?
No, that totally depends on the person. In my case it was a traineeship at Ahold and I can recommend it to everyone, however it is not for everyone. Therefore, do what you like. If you go for it with 100% commitment, the odds will come true. It all starts with you… If you can passionately work, develop and achieve I believe a path will show and I believe this will always be a good way.

Which challenges do you foresee in Supply Chain for the upcoming years?
The technological development is progressing at a vast rate. Physical shops disappear while the online business is growing. Good supply chains make the difference in this new world, in which everything must be faster and more efficient. The supply chain must enable this and I foresee that the demand for good logisticians will only increase. The other challenge will be to combine logistical processes. You will have to look more into combining streams and processes inter-company.

At Royal Vezet we now also see the impact of another challenge, climate change. Harvests are more likely to fail, which other products are available in plentitude, but everyone wants enough food. The supply of qualitative vegetables, fruit and other ingredients will also become less predictable because of this, which can make the planning very challenging.
Besides that, we also see that climate change has an influence on the demand patterns. If it gets hot everyone in The Netherlands wants to barbecue with some delicious salads. We must be able to respond to this in time. The better we can forecast the better we can serve our customers.

Do you have any other comments or questions for planning talents?

Within Vezet we have agreed to become the best fresh Supply Chain in the retail business. To achieve this, you need good people. It is not a standard environment to work in. As such we need people who like to be challenged, are smart and can handle the pressure. What I find very inspiring is that with the products we product at Royal Vezet, we help people to eat more vegetables and fruit, which is both healthier and more sustainable. As such, we are not only relevant to ourselves but also to society. The fun part of Supply Chain is that it is and will remain ‘a peoples job’. It is a nice combination between hard and soft skills, which can lead to amazing results. It’s just such a beautiful trade!

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