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...
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.
While the job title may be new for Jeroen, he’s an old hand at managing Vetipak’s day-to-day operations: as a six-year veteran of the company, he initially served as Logistics Director and later as Plant Manager at the Veghel site. As it happens, he’s not completely new to the COO role either.
Jeroen: “We invested a full year in my development, to help me find my feet, ease into the role, and grow professionally. My remit was gradually expanded across the organization, adding another plant or another division each time. I was also entrusted with the HR and QESH (Quality, Environment, Safety and Health) portfolios.”
Through a wider lens
During this transitional process, Jeroen was released from his duties as plant manager, which he had delegated to his successor, Nadine van Helvoort. This gave the two Vetipak stalwarts the proverbial ‘soft landing’ they needed. The new COO tells us he’s already settled into his role nicely:
“I couldn’t be happier. As plant manager, I was directly involved in day-to-day operations, but this vantage point gives me both a wider perspective and a more objective overview. All in all, it’s been an instructive experience, as well as a lot of fun!”
“Our ambitious growth targets
should never undermine our company culture”
Jeroen van Herpen | Chief Operational Officer (COO)
Growing while staying true to Vetipak’s culture
Jeroen’s chief responsibility is to keep the machines running smoothly across all our sites – a process that inevitably involves planning and looking ahead. As he explains: “We want to be prepared for the future, but although we have set some pretty ambitious growth targets for the company, these should never come at the expense of the Vetipak culture. We intend to remain a family business, a professional environment based on values such as freedom and transparency; a place where people are allowed to make mistakes and where we all give 110 percent.”
Jeroen continues: “That’s why we always keep the lines of communication with our team members open. My fellow board members and I set the overall strategy, and together with the leadership team we then define the direction for the production facilities. Our team includes plant managers, Business Development, HR, and QESH managers, as well as the members of the executive board. We constantly take time to reassess and revaluate the business, and we also conduct an employee satisfaction survey at least once a year. As a team, we also encourage our employees to develop their business acumen and entrepreneurial skills, which allows the board to focus even more on the company’s goals as we make sure our facilities keep running.”
The new leadership team is just one of the new initiatives designed to ensure that we can grow while at the same time staying true to our values and identity. But the company’s operations obviously involve a lot more than that.
Jeroen: “For one, the position of product manager has been eliminated at virtually all our sites. Instead, the plant manager now communicates directly with the team leaders. Also, the sales department has become an integral part of the production plant, which means we can assist customers and meet their needs more quickly and effectively. At the same time, I’m also busy drafting a three-year plan for each of our sites.”
Sounds like appointing Jeroen as COO has been a smart and inspired choice. The organization is developing, Jeroen continues to grow professionally, and the bond between him and Vetipak is stronger than ever. To wrap it all up, he says: “I’m even prouder of Vetipak than I was before. Now that I’ve started looking at the company from a wider perspective, I’ve become even more aware of and impressed by our people’s creativity and talent. It’s clear that we are involved in something truly special!”
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