At SThree we value all of our employees, but their career - and indeed life - trajectory isn’t always necessarily plain sailing. What do you do with your career, for instance, when you fall in love with a person you are sure you will marry, whose job moves them to another country? What do you do when both your careers are blossoming, but you have three children to consider?
The answer is to continue to create opportunities for our people. Take Liske Van Poelgeest, for instance, who faced all of these challenges, and shows how it is possible to achieve your dreams, in every aspect of your life.
Liske’s challenge is to continue on her hugely successful career trajectory, while also allowing her husband to pursue his. This in itself is nothing out of the ordinary, except for the fact that every stage in her husband’s career progression necessitates a move to another country. As if that weren’t enough, Liske also faces the challenge of how to achieve a satisfactory work/life balance when three children are added to the mix. However, in every instance, Liske has worked together with SThree to make her career a success.
Liske began her SThree career at Huxley in Amsterdam in 2004, and was soon winning plaudits, including Rookie of the Year, and highest target achiever in 2006. But then came a choice: stay in Amsterdam where she was leading a highly successful team, or follow her then partner to Brussels.
“I would have loved to have stayed in Amsterdam,” explains Liske. “I had put my whole soul into my career, and I didn’t view leaving my job as a great choice from a personal career perspective. However, this was the man I thought I might want to spend the rest of my life with, and he was going to Brussels, so I had to go too if I was to figure out if we were right for each other!
“My management didn’t want to see me go either, but immediately set about figuring out if there was opportunity for me in Belgium, and luckily, there was.”In 2008 Liske moved to Brussels to take up a position asTeam Leader, Accountancy, at Huxley Associates. The decision paid off. Within 18 months Liske had married the man she moved there for.
Enabling internal mobility
Key to SThree’s success is enabling its organic growth. For our employees, that means continuing to find opportunities where their skills and experiences will be put to the best use, whilst also allowing them to take their career with SThree wherever they want. Sometimes, this means a change of role.
Fully integrated into her new role in Belgium, Liske then received more good news: she was expecting her first child. After a three-month maternity leave, Liske didn’t actually return to her old role, but was presented with a brand new opportunity as Talent Acquisition & Communication Manager. She takes up the story:
“They wanted someone with my experience to lead the effort to develop our business in Belgium,” she explains. “This meant combining a business development role – getting our company known by candidates – as well as training managers on what good talent acquisition looked like.”
However, within 18 months Liske’s husband had to move back to the Netherlands, and Liske followed him once more.
“It was a shame, I felt that I hadn’t really proved myself in that role, but immediately my manager said that he thought I could go back into a principal consultant role in Rotterdam.”
Every time Liske had to move she had in-depth discussions with her managers, so that together they could find the best solution for her move, matching the needs of the business with her own career aspirations. By 2015 a new move was planned to Scotland. This time, discussions included going from a full time role to a part-time one.
Agreeing flexible working arrangements
As an employer we're well aware how important it is to provide our people with the support they need to build a fulfilling career and strike a balance in their work and their life. It’s about being an employer who helps their people to be happy in their private life, start a family and be successful at the same time.
Liske’s move to Scotland came after two years in her principal consultant role in Rotterdam, and with three children in tow.
“I had conversations with Computer Futures about working for the Glasgow office in Scotland, but the issue is that after two years you have embedded yourself in a market, and if you leave you have to start all over again,” says Liske. “The company came up with a better idea. I would continue to cover my clients in the Netherlands, but part time (20 hours a week) and from our new home in Scotland.
“My clients understand that I am in the UK, they’re fine with that. It suited me perfectly I was so happy! When you move young children in the age of four, three and one you have to be sure they are settling in. You have to have conversations with their teachers, you have to find the right sort of childcare, you have to organise a lot of things when you start a life in a new country!
Working from home brings its own challenges, admits Liske.
“You don’t get to bounce ideas from colleagues, when you’re at home you’re the one that has to make the effort to stay in touch. You have to be really disciplined and you have to work harder to reassure your clients that they’re still getting a great job from you. It helps that I do this job because I love, it, not because I have to! It’s this enthusiasm they want. Actually the hardest thing is sticking to the part-time hours. It’s so easy for them to creep up!
Since going part-time, Liske has been promoted to Senior Principal Consultant:
“I would like to stay within the company, and given my experience so far, the company have said that I can continue to do this from wherever we move to next. Even better than being promoted is being told “your future is here”.
If you want to gain more insights into how SThree enables their people to have a career with no limits, click here and browse similar stories.