Close up of Marlous Helderman | Jobs at Emakina

Encouraging people to own their career: Marlous Helderman, HR Manager

At our digital agency, we make sure that we take care of our people. Not only by giving them a good cup of coffee and a nice lunch, but also by taking their personal development seriously for example. That’s not an easy task, but Marlous Helderman took on the challenge anyway. We spoke with her about growth and personal development.

HR Manager at Emakina, what does that role include?

As an HR Manager at Emakina I make sure that people can be the best version of themselves. So they can do their work with energy, have fun, learn a lot and develop themselves as a specialist or a leader.

What does personal development within Emakina mean?

Because we don’t have 50 different roles within our digital agency, and thus no strict career path moving from role A to B, we make sure people develop in the areas that are important to them. And, of course, that match the ambitions of Emakina. For people working here, this requires a bit more soul searching and really putting in time and effort to figure out what their career goals and interests are. The employee is definitely in the driver seat and in charge of his or her personal development. We are here to support people along the way.

Why do you think personal development is so important?

In the digital era, the only constant is change. So you better make sure to stay ahead of the curve and develop yourself alongside this constant change. This could be in all different kinds of areas, from improving soft skills like presentation skills to learning new technologies.

You’re pretty new to Emakina, which initiatives within this area stood out for you?

What I noticed when I joined Emakina is that there were quite some initiatives on personal development, but they were scattered around the company. Nobody had a clear overview of all the things we do. So we started there. We collected all the initiatives and created a one-pager: an overview of all our development initiatives. Two training sessions of the past, were received really well, so of course we hosted the Presentation Masterclass and Influencing Masterclass again.

Marlous Helderman about Personal Development at Emakina

What is your next step within Emakina regarding personal development?

We started a pilot in which we selected ten employees to be part of the PDP (Personal Development Plan). I want to double the group before the end of 2019 and eventually make sure that everybody in the company has a PDP. On the training side, we are selecting a partner to help us organise workshops on goal setting and giving feedback. Being able to set strong goals is a huge driving force of personal development.

How does Emakina help people advance in their career?

It all starts with our talents shining in the role they have; to master their role with support from their manager, colleagues and others. It’s important for them to have regular check-ins and ask for feedback. If an employee is ready for the next step, we discuss what that step could look like: what should the employee do and how can we as a company support that?

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First, it’s about clearly defining the goal of the employee. When the goal is set, we create a plan for this in the shape of either working on a specific project, learning new skills or maybe an internship at another department. Good examples of personal development goals could be the things like improving on time management, upgrading some communication skills or attending a certain training. Some of these are very easy to measure. Others need some more tuning between an employee and a manager to get a mutual understanding of what success looks like.

Would you say personal development initiatives are off-the-shelf, or more tailor made?

There are training opportunities that benefit many colleagues at Emakina. If that’s the case, we choose to do training sessions companywide. We really believe learning together strengthens our company culture. We embed our culture and values in all the learning sessions we do. Trainers need to know us as a company and how we work before they can deliver a good workshop or masterclass. There are also subjects that are more specific and only of interest to an individual or a smaller group of people. In that case, we look for the right format, learning environment and study options, to find the best fit. These options are very much tailor-made.

How do people working at Emakina get to influence their own growth?

We invite our employees to show off their strengths and magnify them. We want our people to learn and we encourage them to own their careers. The conversation around personal development with the manager is super important. Together, or with some help from HR, they create a solid plan on how someone wants to grow, within the role they have now or into another role they aspire.

Let’s say a UX designer wants to become an Art Director. Is that possible within Emakina?

We support employees who want to make a move to another role. To be honest, this is not always easy and requires time and effort from the employee, the current and the future manager. I have an example in my own team, our Recruitment Coordinator has a strong ambition to become a UX Researcher. Now she works three days per week in the Creative team and only one day in recruitment. In about four months she will make the permanent move to the Creative team. I think this is a great example of how we support a horizontal move within Emakina.

Marlous sitting behind her desk at Emakina

How do you ensure people are at their best?

On the one hand by creating a nice environment to work in. A beautiful office building, nice activities such as yoga and bootcamp, drinks and parties… We try to make sure that there’s something for everyone’s.

On the other hand, it’s about the projects people work on, and we have really cool ones. And it also comes down to the people you work with. All the nationalities we have at our office and the close collaboration in the teams is what people like most about working at Emakina. We created a place where you can be you and where we care for each other. Those I see as the basic ingredients for being happy in your job and to be able to be the best version of you.

How do you personally help the people in your team set and keep their goals?

In our team (HR & recruitment) we are really open about our goals. We share them on a regular basis during our team meetings. Everybody knows about the goals another team member is working on. We also offer each other support if needed and we report back on the progress we made. We celebrate when we kicked ass, we evaluate if we didn’t: out in the open, really transparent. I really like this way of working. We are much better aligned and learn a lot from each other, also from mistakes we make and we keep getting better in setting the right goals.

If you could pick up a new skill in an instant, what would it be?

That would be being an inspiring storyteller. My way of communication can come across quite formal and I am always impressed by people that present in an inspirational way. As you can understand, this is part of one of my personal development goals ;).

Excited about Emakina‘s approach to personal development? Find out if we have a vacancy for you. 

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