Growth Accelerator day 5: Human Resources & Organization

A company is only as good as its people

One of the most useful things we learned at the fifth Econnections Growth Accelerator event was that telling your company’s story is one of the best ways to find the right people. So what’s the story there? Read on to find out!

The Beginning: Building a foundation

Memorable stories begin with a great opening, and this one started at IKEA Haarlem, where Martin Koning, Fulfillment Sourcing Developer for IKEA Netherlands, walked us through the company’s sustainability efforts – including some innovative plans to kick screws to the curb at IKEA and make all last-mile Dutch deliveries zero emission by 2025.

Deloitte’s resident organization design experts, Helen Sonneveld and Rob van de Molengraaf, then shared the story of how intentionally designing a company as it grows can help guarantee that the core values and culture grow along with it. Does codifying processes, people, and culture feel like a bureaucratic bog that most start-ups would rather avoid? Rob believes it doesn’t have to be. “Almost every scale-up we talk to says that’s exactly what we don’t want to become, that kind of bureaucracy,” he explained. “But being transparent doesn’t necessarily mean you limit control. Transparency and clarity also give you room for creativity.”

The Middle: A hands-on challenge

The middle of this story focused on the scale-ups themselves, with each company taking the mic for two minutes to give their elevator pitch and a quick pilot update. It stirred some fantastic dialogue and that collaboration continued in hands-on problem-solving sessions, where the scale-ups put some of what they’d learned into practice.

The End: Focusing on the future

The presentations closed with some priceless advice from three sage recruitment experts on finding the right people to join your next adventure. Recruitment rockstars (and newlyweds) Babs Bloemsaat and Arthur Rijk shared their own story, proving their point that great storytelling helps keep a company top of mind with top talent. And all the best stories center around the protagonist, so their key tip?

Babs: “Make it about the candidate. Make sure you know the candidate and have a moment of surprise when you reach out to candidates or write a job description. You need to be on point, because the whole world is looking for these people.”

Piet Hein Barkmeijer, founder of TechRise, then took the stage to talk about how to find senior-level leaders for the next leg of the scale-up journey. His expert wisdom is that when it comes to leadership roles, soft skills are more important than a laundry list of competencies. “It’s not about the hard skills in these positions,” he said. “It’s more the substance, what really completes you as a leader.” And like every adventurous tale, the journey to find leaders doesn’t happen overnight. His final piece of advice?

Piet Hein: “It takes a while, so start on time. You’ll be lucky if it’s done in two to three months. But on average it takes about four to five months before someone signs.”

Epilogue: Useful expertise in the expert sessions

While the focus of this story was on the main sessions, one of the most valuable aspects of Econnections Growth Accelerator events is the one-on-one expert sessions, where scale-ups get helpful advice tailor-made for their specific issues. We asked Pieter Waller, co-founder at Chargetrip, to give us a peek into what an expert session has to offer.

Pieter: “The great thing about the expert sessions is that, as a company, the challenges you face are extremely specific to your context – what customer deals you’re in, what financing, what organizational challenges you’re facing. And with this structure, you can ask those extremely specific questions to the experts. So we can ask questions about expanding to the US, how to set up our corporate structure, or how to deal with taxes and risk on that end. You have this entire machine of intelligent people at your disposal who have very deep expertise in their knowledge sector, and you can actually take the question that is relevant for you as a company and give them that question. They think about it and then come back with a very specific solution to help you fix the problem.”

 This story has come to an end, but there’s much more to come in September when the scale-ups share their successes, pilot insights and results at the Econnections Demo day. So stay tuned for more ideas for making e-commerce more sustainable!

Econnections is an innovation initiative from, Deloitte, Google Cloud, IKEA, Mollie, and PostNL to accelerate sustainability in e-commerce. The program aims to reduce the growing ecological footprint of the e-commerce sector. Its mission is to realize 500 million (more) sustainable online purchases by 2026. Seven scaleups are participating in Econnections 2022; Chargetrip, Drop & Loop, Greenplan, Manyfolds GmbH, Optiply, PlasticFri® and Returnless.

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