For the love of tech… & chocolate Nathalie, Engineering Manager

At bol.com we know: new insights help us grow. Differences in culture, gender, age, interests and perspective increase our brainpower and expand our innovative thinking. That’s why we’re catching up with colleagues throughout the organisation in our ‘Talking Perspectives’ blog series. You’ll meet colleagues with inspiring ways of working, noteworthy backgrounds, and interesting views on life. One thing is for sure: we’re all unique. We have the same goal, but we each approach it differently. And that’s the way we like it.

Nathalie was born in Belgium, but has been living in the Netherlands now for 24 years. She grew up in her parents’ patisserie, where they also made the most delicious chocolates. But following in their footsteps was not her destiny. She left home and its endless supply of delicacies to study IT. Enthusiastic and motivated, with a passion for her profession, she has become an IT Manager. That’s Nathalie. Going for something 100% requires a great deal of discipline. As a woman in a so-called ‘man’s world’, her perseverance and other strengths have come in very handy. Now she passes on her enthusiasm and motivation to the teams she manages.

A “people person” in IT

“At first, I wanted to become a psychologist, but there was an IT college just around the corner from us in Brussels. My dad said: ‘With that qualification, Nathalie, you can always be an independent woman.’ So, I followed his advice and actually started studying informatics. Even though IT wasn’t my dream, I have absolutely no regrets. I’m really glad I followed my dad’s advice. All my jobs have had a focus on technology, but I’ve always been able to show my human side. I enjoy helping people improve their development and strengths. And I get a kick out of managing and seeing others motivated and growing in their work. So that’s how I’ve combined a bit of psychology with IT.”

“After my studies, I started working in Brussels for a year. After that I went to Hamburg for another year, and the third year of my career I got the opportunity to work in the Netherlands. It would only be for one year, then I’d return to Brussels. But things don’t always go according to plan. I liked the Netherlands, the culture and the people. Besides that, the job was also very nice. With all that together, I made the decision to stay. Now, 24 years later, I’m still here and enjoying every minute! I’ve been working at bol.com for almost 3 years.”

Motivation and leadership

“It’s important to me that the people in my teams are happy in their jobs and that they’re doing what they enjoy. When people do work they’re good at, they start to excel themselves. This helps keep the team motivated, full of energy, and gives them the desire to become even better. What’s more, I know from experience that people work better when they can work independently. I’m certainly not a micro manager. Providing guidance, giving trust and a lot of responsibility is more my way of doing things.

“Of course, I’m a woman in an IT world with lots of men. These days we’re getting more and more female colleagues, but it wasn’t like that when I started my career. I think that has made me stronger. My advice is always to grasp every opportunity that comes your way. That will contribute to your success. Sometimes people can be too critical. But if you’re offered a chance, it means someone else sees something in you that you haven’t yet seen yourself. Just do it. If you fall, get up, learn and get on with it — and keep getting better.”

A home away from home

“In my previous jobs, I was often the only Belgian. It’s the other way around at bol.com. Here I’ve met so many other Belgians who have studied at my college or lived in my parents’ neighbourhood. That’s why I felt at home here from my first day. I try to give others that same homely feeling. And I can do that because I’m also involved with Diversity and Inclusion here at bol.com. Within bol.com I am the community lead for the internationals, and together with a big group of colleagues we want to make bol.com a great workplace for internationals. I love to be involved with Diversity & Inclusion and the internationals. At bol.com you can really do what you love to do. I think that’s fantastic.”

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Staying active

“I’m normally a very active person, always enthusiastic to do something with friends or family. But, with coronavirus, none of this is possible at the moment. It takes some time to get used to that. Fortunately, I’m a positive person and I try to find a ray of hope in everything. Like walking with friends and drink a coffee to-go. It always does me good to get out. It’s important to stay active, especially now that we seem to spend all day behind our laptops. I love to take our Labrador out for long walks. That’s my favourite way to end the day. A walk in the woods with the dog, for an hour or so, without my phone. Just focusing on myself, and on the nature around me. When I get back, I can give my family my full attention.”

The Belgian chocolates

“As the daughter of a Belgian pâtissier, I’ve made and tasted plenty of chocolate. Before my parents retired, I used to bring back chocolates for my teams. And whenever there was something to celebrate, I make sure there were cakes or pastries. After all these years in the Netherlands, I haven’t found anything as good. A Bossche bol is fine, but as soon as I taste the Belgian chocolates, I really feel at home again.”

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