Stijn Vandevoorde - London
This talent mobility story takes us to London. The place where Stijn Vandevoorde and his family created a new home for themselves, with a little bit of help from Azelis. When life took an unexpected turn for his family and suddenly started pointing away from Belgium, Azelis met this new opportunity head-on together with Stijn and sent him on his way to be Group Principal Manager, located in London.
Stijn is 43 years and was born in Belgium where he studied Bio-Engineering (Chemistry), following his passion for science. After his studies, he worked for a service company in Antwerp as coordinator for the food division. Three years later, he was hired by YDS-Chemicals and started selling specialty chemicals for homecare applications. In 2010, YDS–Chemicals was acquired by Azelis. Stijn first worked as a Sales Manager, later moving on to the position of Market Manager Personal Care and Homecare & Performance Chemicals, working with a great team in Benelux.
We asked Stijn how he ended up in London
At the end of 2015 my wife An, who was responsible for field sales in Belgium for Coca-Cola, was asked if she would be interested in the same position in the UK. Azelis was willing to support me in the move, if she would be chosen for this position. Long story short, three weeks after Brexit was voted, we moved to London.
How have you and your family been settling into your new life, and what did you find most difficult to adjust to?
We really enjoy living here. Our kids Eline (9) and Mathis (4) both enjoy school and speak two languages. This has so far been a really enriching cultural experience for all of us. You can find all sorts of great food in London, there are so many nice places to discover, and there’s this unlimited access to culture. UK people, in general, are extremely friendly, helpful and service-minded.
The weather is similar to Belgian weather, so I didn’t really need to adjust to it that much. And I’ve certainly started drinking more tea and less coffee! To be honest, it was not that difficult to adjust to our new life in London. I’m really thankful for the warm welcome and great support from the UK teams.
What are the most exciting elements of your new job?
What’s really exciting is the giant international network I am building - working with all those different people from all the different countries and market segments.
How is it different from what you were doing in Belgium?
My job is still in sales, but in the past, it was more about selling products to a customer, and now it means “selling” Azelis to a principal. I like working with strategic principals, making sure we are aligned and that the Azelis teams are eager to invest in the principal and the other way around. There’s also the additional element of doing something completely new, such as the improved CRM. I’m developing new skills - in the past, it was more about sales and team management, but today it’s more about influencing and presentation skills.
You can visit a principal together with the CEO and the next day you can visit a customer together with a local sales manager, and with this, you notice that we are all one big team with the same ambition - to create value and grow together.