Hi everyone! My name is Tom Ouwerkerk and I am the Vice chairman, Treasurer and external affairs officer of Kraket. That might sound like a lot, but I can assure you that it is very manageable to balance my work and life. As the Vice chairman I am mainly a support for Lotte. It is her job to make sure that everyone in the board feels good and does their job, but someone has to look after Lotte too! :) As a Treasurer I monitor all the income and expenses of Kraket. I also make a budget for the whole year so every committee knows how much they can spend on their activity. Lastly as an external affairs officer I mainly focus on business meetings with companies to start a possible collaboration. I also support Lisanne with staying in contact with the companies and also managing the Company Compass.
The flow of money
As I said, my job as the treasurer is to manage the cash flow of Kraket. I put every transaction Kraket makes into Exact, our accounting program. For that I need a receipt or invoice for that specific transaction. It can sometimes be a hassle to collect every receipt or invoice, but it is very rewarding when you do! This is because Exact puts a big red cross next to a transaction if you haven’t closed it. But once you connect the right receipt to the right transaction that big red cross becomes a green checkmark. I myself like crossing things off so this is very satisfying for me. When I first started I thought accounting was very hard and I was scared to make mistakes because I am a bit sloppy. But this year I learned that making mistakes is nothing to worry about since there is a great auditing committee behind me that checks everything and helps me with problems I might have.
I also said that the treasurer makes a budget for the whole year. This is very very fun, because we have a lot of money to spend. And spending money is fun! For me it is really nice when I can make people happy because I made it possible that their committee or activity gets more money. One specific instance this year was with the sustainability committee. They had a really nice idea to have dinner after the Sustain-a-business, but they didn’t have enough budget for that. I will never forget the joy on their faces when I said it is possible!
In the summer Lisanne and I went to many many companies to discuss collaboration. This was a really great time for me. Not only because Lisanne is a great company and we make a great team. But also because I really like meeting new people! One of the things I am good at is talking to people. This is a really nice skill to have as an external affairs officer. For me the meetings with the companies were kind of like a game, a game of behavioral science! Because of course you want the company to purchase as much as possible so Kraket has more money for fun activities. But you also want to keep a good relationship with the company. If you push all the good deals too much the person you're talking to might find you obtrusive. Which means they will buy less. So I always tried to notice what the company is interested in. When I see from their reaction that they like something I try to give it more attention, but if they seem uninterested I will talk less about it.
When the business meetings are over the job of the external affairs officer is mainly to keep in touch with the companies. You respond to their emails with questions from them. For instance all the details about a formal event from Kraket or that they want to add a new vacancy to our website. Lisanne mainly does this, but I am always happy to help of course! I mainly focus on the Company Compass, but that is something I don’t like talking about :(.
A balanced life
As a vice chairman I don't really have day to day tasks. I step up as the chairman when Lotte is busy or on holiday. I also help Lotte with keeping up the morale of the board. It can be quite stressful as a board member, you have a lot of responsibilities and many tasks. All these tasks have to be perfect because that is the norm. If something is good it is normal, but if something is wrong it stands out and will be noticed by the members. This can lead to a lot of stress, but this year I have learned a lot about how to make a really busy schedule work in my life.
Before I started studying econometrics I went to a school where I learned a lot about how people respond to certain things, kinda like behavioral sciences. I feel like this is a really nice skill to have to make sure, together with Lotte, the board feels okay. But you never stop learning! I learned that it is really important to focus on the things that went well and to celebrate these little (or big) victories. When we started to do this as a board we were so much more happy and had so much more motivation to work. It is also very important to schedule in some rest hours. A moment in your agenda when you do “nothing”. This is not literally nothing, but something that is fun for you. It can be reading a book or playing a game. This way you process all the things that are happening and also rests your mind. A great way to balance your work and life!
Becoming a board member is a very big decision that you have to think very carefully about. You will face many challenges, big deadlines and negative comments. But I can assure that it is worth every minute. I have learned a lot this board year. From accounting to getting in contact with companies. And I am very happy with my fellow board members that became really great friends! But the one thing that I want you to take away from this is that no matter what you do, or what your work is. It is always really important to have a balanced work/life schedule. Hope to see you as a board member next year!