This is a translation of the Dutch interview with MaxGrippers Abbas Haidari and Chrissy Heimeriks. It was previously published in the trade media Europoort Kringen.
The one works with clients, the other has an HR role and is the sparring partner of management. When talking to Europoort Kringen, Abbas Haidari and Chrissy Heimeriks describe what their job roles entail, about what gives them job satisfaction and they talk about what characterizes the consultancy firm’s company culture. “This is an organization that really focuses on their people.”
Well-being is a priority
Chrissy Heimeriks and Abbas Haidari from MaxGrip are two of the three driving forces behind this initiative. Heimeriks has been working for 5,5 years at the consultancy company that is specialized in asset performance management. Her work as a HR business partner has two distinct sides, she explains: “On the one hand, I’m a sparring partner for the EMEA management team [besides Utrecht, MaxGrip also has offices in Houston (USA) and in Kuala Lumpur (MY), red.]. On the other hand, I’m part of the HR team. I consider the well-being of our employees as my most important job. With seventy employees in the Netherlands, MaxGrip is somewhat modest in size, however, it has many large clients. She continues: “That offers the opportunity to take ownership of many different activities. I’m, for example, also the safety coordinator and prevention officer.” So, Chrissy’s work activities are mostly focused on the internal MaxGrip organization and on MaxGrippers instead of on external clients. “I help management to guide our employees in the best way possible. MaxGrippers are highly-educated people, that we guide, coach, and want to help develop even more. To this end, I develop educational programs and organize internal knowledge sessions.” Chrissy knows every employee: “when a new employee starts working here, I always plan a meeting to get to know that person. That way, I get to know everybody and understand their ambitions. I want to keep the bar low to come to me for help, coaching or any other HR related matters.”
Knowledge and skills
Abbas Haidari has been a MaxGripper for a shorter time. “I have been working as a senior consultant for 1,5 years. Before this, I worked for five years in a similar role at a different employer and I have worked for twenty years in management roles at different industrial companies. In contrast with Chrissy, Abbas works mostly at clients’. MaxGrip’s clients are active in almost every industry these include the oil- & gas sector and the FMCG, as well as, for example, a water authority which he assists at the moment. Abbas explains: “There are two reasons why companies ask us for our assistance. They either do not have the capacity in house to perform all maintenance tasks or they want to improve their asset management but do not know how to. For the latter, these include the development of maintenance processes, scoping improvements and creating improvement roadmaps for asset performance or, for instance, taking steps in digital transformation.” He says that he benefits from his extensive experience as a manager. “Recently, we were asked to help an oil and gas company with making the maintenance organization run smoother; The processes and performance results could be improved greatly. In collaboration with our client, we improved the organization including updating roles and aligning tasks and responsibilities. The result is a professional organization which is able to achieve effective and efficient results.” Abbas sees communication with the client as an essential piece of the puzzle for success. “They know the organization, we have the knowledge to help them improve. If we combine our strengths, we can create a valuable long-standing solution.”
Chrissy considers a work day a success if she did something meaningful for someone else. “This can be something personal or something that’s considered a small success. Or for example, when somebody is reintegrating and they take a new step on this path. It is often very important to people to go back to work and to do meaningful things. It is nice to help someone achieve this.” “If a client is satisfied, I am satisfied as well. That is my goal”, says Abbas. “When I am working for a client, I have to work with people that have to execute our ideas and improvements. I like to include them, to coach and to guide them. Working like that gives me extra energy. My day was fantastic if I was able to help my customers and if I could offer them what they expect from me.”
MaxGrip is a company that really focuses on their people, is Chrissy’s experience. “I do not only talk to employees when they start working here, but also when they leave. We evaluate how they see MaxGrip. These conversations show that the employees are seen as people and not as a number. We give our people personal attention, colleagues are prepared to help each other and you can go to anyone with questions. The HR department is service-oriented; the system is not leading. Abbas agrees with Chrissy: “When I started working for MaxGrip, I immediately felt at home due to the human side of the company. The make-up of the team is diverse, and if I need help, I can ask for it. I get responses almost immediately. It gives the feeling that you are not alone.” Six months after Abbas started at MaxGrip, he had a very serious accident while driving his motorcycle. “I was wondering how my employer would handle this but I should not have been worried. MaxGrip gave me full support. Partly because of that, I was back at work sooner than I had thought I would be.” Chrissy adds that this is not an isolated occurrence: “When I applied at MaxGrip, I found out that I was pregnant after my first interview. At my second interview I immediately told them because there were more applicants. MaxGrip still picked me, even though I went on maternity leave three months after I started work. Luckily, there was room for thinking of a solution while keeping the long term in mind.
Traveling and sharing
“In this organization, there’s lots of room for development” Abbas continues. “Whether it is a course or training you want to follow, you can discuss it with your supervisor. You also get stimulated to share your knowledge.” Knowledge management is one of the pillars of MaxGrip, says Chrissy. “Knowledge should not be limited to one person only, so sharing knowledge is encouraged and facilitated. MaxGrip has different kinds of platforms and initiatives for this.” Abbas: “Besides all this, you can also work abroad for MaxGrip on different projects. You learn a lot from this. Many people have the wish to travel for work. We have a lot of projects with multinationals or international clients so we get asked to travel regularly. While we also work with them through online meetings, it is always valuable to work on-site and experience the day-to-day as well. In our experience, this gives the project more chance of success. And for me personally I consider it a great experience.”
Talking about what characterizes MaxGrip, Chrissy and Abbas continuously complete each other. For instance, when Chrissy describes the way of working within the company as accessible and informal and Abbas immediately adds: “Being open to each other is at the core; this makes MaxGrip strong. Everybody can join in. Someone who develops a tool, is prepared to share that. Everybody gives feedback, which helps us to improve our work.” This results in strong involvement, also due to the responsibility that is given and the ownership that comes with this. He ends with: “We are growing. We are starting a lot of new projects because more and more clients want to use our expertise. With our growing group of MaxGrippers we can help more clients with a growing set of expertise and services.”
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