Michelle Tijssen was only meant to work at Vetipak for two months, over the summer of 2014. In the end, she was there for more than four years...
Business is in their blood: an interview with the youngest shareholders
They’re only 16 to 23 years old, but they’re already mastering the world of entrepreneurship, production and innovation. Meet Nick, Iris, Koen and Elise van de Ven: co-owners of Vetipak.
They themselves don’t think it’s strange to be referred to as ‘co-owners’. Of course they know that it’s rare for young people their age to hold shares in a company, but they don’t let it go to their heads. “Otherwise Mom and Dad would bring us back down to earth”, says Koen. “I never really talk about it, except maybe sometimes at home.”
Indeed: Nick, Iris, Koen and Elise are the children of Vetipak founder Arno and his wife Mirjan. A few months ago, they became Vetipak shareholders via the family company.
Experience outside the company first
That doesn’t mean they spend all day working at the company, however; they still have to finish their studies first. But do they plan on working at the company after graduation? At the moment, none of them know what the future has in store.
Elise is considering becoming a physiotherapist, and Iris thinks that she should work outside Vetipak first: “I’m studying Technical Business Administration at the moment. Vetipak would be a wonderful place to work: it’s a company that innovates in a wide range of areas. That really appeals to me, but first I’m going to gain some experience outside the company.”
”I’m going to gain some experience
outside the company first”
And what about Koen and Nick? They’re keeping their options open. Koen studies Engineering, but he feels it’s still too early to make plans for the future. “And I’m studying Mechatronics”, Nick adds. “Vetipak would be the ideal place to start my career, with all of the robotics innovations at the company. But for now I’m focusing on my internships and holiday jobs.”
The Van de Ven siblings don’t have concrete plans for the future yet, but all four have been learning about the company and entrepreneurship for years already, under the guidance of Theo Quaijtaal, who has years of experience in entrepreneurship and consulting and knows the business world inside and out.
“We’ve been learning what
entrepreneurship involves, step-by-step”
Koen explains how it works: “During our sessions, Theo explains how entrepreneurship works. One quarter, we might learn about how to read a balance sheet, and the next we’ll learn about organizational structure.” Elise: “We’ve been learning what entrepreneurship involves, step-by-step. Our dad has taught us some things, of course, but he doesn’t talk about work very much at home.”
It sounds challenging. “And it is at times”, Elise answers. “Especially when it comes to figures. But Theo explains everything in such a way that we don’t have trouble understanding what he’s talking about.” “We also don’t have to apply it right away”, adds Nick. “It’ll come in handy later, though, no matter what line of work we end up in.”
What has been the most enjoyable subject so far? “The conversations about family values”, says Nick. “That might sound boring, but it’s been fun to see what everyone believes is important, and how that affects the way you see the company.”
Is there much of the Van de Ven family DNA in Vetipak’s genetic makeup? According to Iris, there is: “We all enjoy hard work, and we’re all innovators. Elise is still young, of course, but both Nick and Koen have a talent for technical subjects, and I have a knack for business. Those are all characteristics of Vetipak as well: seeing opportunities, rolling up your sleeves and getting to work. It’s great that we’re getting the opportunity to be involved from such a young age.”
“We enjoy hard work,
and we’re all innovators”
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Meet our ‘new’ board member: COO Jeroen van Herpen
At Vetipak, we always look ahead. And not just to the next five or ten years, but the next generation or two. Because we aim to offer our employees, customers, and suppliers a safe, innovative and appealing future. That’s also why we welcomed powerhouse Jeroen van Herpen to the board as Chief Operational Officer (COO) on January 1 of this year.